Thursday, March 6, 2014

It's a Process (the home study)

Have you ever been in an investigator's office?
You know like CSI Miami....
Cue the gigantic spot light lamp;
Sweat dripping from your brow, 
as you are asked the nitty gritty details about what you saw, who you saw, why.

Home studies kind of feel like this.

There are few areas that I have found that people ask the most about...
Our Home study and
Our Open Adoption, 
so I am going to spend the next couple of posts trying to unpack them.

Our home study for Eliana was completely different than our home study for this little one.
We still had to check off many of the same to do lists, 
but we did most of this after Eliana was born. 
Eliana was adopted through an independent domestic adoption, 
so agency adoption has been a different experience already....

Basically in an agency adoption, 
the birth rights are signed over to the agency after the child is born.
With Eliana, the birth rights were signed off to us the weeks following her birth.
With the rights being in the agencies court, 
agencies tend to do the extra mile of investigation
 in order to assure that they are placing children into legit homes. 

When we started our home study, we got a long list of items that needed to be completed
in order to set up our official home visit with the agency social worker. 
To be quite honest when I got the list, 
I read through it...
started to hyperventilate (slight exaggeration...just slight. I kid you not), 
and I put the packet up on a shelf. 
I shelved it for two months before looking at it again.

Two months passed, 
and I knew I couldn't avoid the checklist forever. 
I'm kind of an all or nothing gal, 
so the idea of this checklist was daunting. 
When in the world was I going to find time to do all this?!
I can barely keep my laundry folded
with a squirmy, screaming, lovely toddler at my feet!

I finally began to understand that all of this would be a process. 
It would not happen overnight. 
Day by day items would be checked off and eventually we'd get through the list. 
I named my laundry pile, "Georgia," 
and I marched on...
laundry took a backseat to a sweet girl and a long to do list. 

Many have asked what are some of the items on the "to do list". 

Here's my nutshell list: 
Live Scans (with FBI clearance)
more paperwork
Credit check
Employment references
Autobiographies (6 pages): Harder than you'd think to sum up your life in 6 pages.
Birth Certificates
Marriage Certificates
Financial Statement 
Tax Returns
Driving Records
A disaster Plan
CPR and First Aid Certification
5 book reports (each)
and some more paperwork...

Guess what?! We actually made it through all of it...
Please don't get me wrong; 
I am so glad that they do all this to ensure safe homes for these children!
I may or may not have sprouted some white hairs getting all of it done.

Next, we set up the actual home study...

We actually considered not completing our home study 
after everything that happened two weeks earlier.
I am pretty sure I looked at Brian several times during those 72 hours and said, 
"I'm never doing this just hurts too bad,"

BUT God.
God had called us, and who are we to bail when God has called us. 
We arrived home to Eliana, and over the following days, 
it was confirmed over and over...
this is why we do this.
Eliana Faith. 
God has answered Faith. 

So... two weeks later we welcomed our social worker into our home for 6 hours. 
She was amazing!
Super down to earth and lovely, but
I'm not going to lie; it was hard. 
We were emotionally raw, 
and the questioning...
So many questions...
All deep, emotional, real questions. 
I found it difficult to divulge my entire life story to someone I had just met a couple hours prior.
I'm pretty sure I barely slept the week leading up to it, 
and I had to excuse myself several times during the questioning to just breathe. 

This introvert walked away from the interviews exhausted. 
My husband, the more extroverted one, left the interviews pumped.
His exact words as the door closed and we were finished: 
"Wasn't that fun?!"

The truth is that adoptive parents don't have to be perfect. 
We were open books with our social worker!
We talked about the things we bicker about...
the things we get heated over,
parenting style, 
parenting successes, 
epic parent failures, 
and we laughed...
we laughed at ourselves. 
We just had to be ourselves, authentic, real, broken...
The Deans.

So what's next?
We just finished our expectant parent letter and profile, 
and now we spend the next month fundraising. 
(More on that soon!)
The plan is to be active, 
able to be shown to expectant parents,
 come April 8th. 

Could there be a better day to have finished the entire home study process than on our 8th anniversary?! 
God is so faithful. 
Sometimes life is a journey...
a process.
Things don't happen overnight, 
but they get done.
Through it all God shapes up, forms up, and equips us for what he's called us to do.

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