Good grief. We began the year with the fastest home study ever, and now find ourselves at a complete standstill. Since February 2nd. We are waiting on one tiny piece for finalization and it isn’t coming. Every couple of days I email my agency the same hopeful “Any news?” and they email back “maybe tomorrow.”
Until this week, I was mostly a little frustrated but understanding that this is just part of the deal when you sign up for international adoption. Yesterday I was bitter and cranky that I was working so hard and left hanging. Last night a momma posted pictures of her new daughter after they left the orphanage for the last time, and my selfish feelings came crashing down around me and I remembered that this is about getting a kiddo in a family where he belongs. I cried all night long. Every day delay is another day he waits. Ugh.
I’ve been lamenting on social media quite a bit about this one missing piece (it’s a Maryland state child abuse clearance) and many have had questions about the home study process, as the name makes it sound like they just come visit your home and look around. It’s perhaps the most involved step in the adoption process and involves one’s very best organization skills. If you are like me… that will be a stretch 😉
We used the Datz foundation in Vienna, Va. They were recommended by a big family friend and are also who we contacted for Ethiopia, so I knew they would take the time to answer my questions. I also knew they were big family friendly, which obviously was very important in our case.
They knew we needed to expedite the process, which means instead of twelve weeks they get everything completed in four, and they blew us out of the water by completing it in two weeks. The MD clearance is totally out of their control, so we are literally waiting on that so they can put their final signatures on it and notarize our four copies.
Here was the information required by the agency to complete the home study:
1. A questionnaire that covered our backgrounds, education, income, family dynamics, why we wish to adopt, etc.
2. Virginia state police checks and FBI clearances
3. Child abuse clearances for all household members over the age of 14
4. Driving records
5. Physicals for all household members, including TB tests and HIV tests (parents only)
6. pay stub and letter from employers
7. Three letters of reference from someone knowing you 2+ years, notarized
8. marriage license, divorce decrees is applicable
9. statement of prohibition of corporal punishment, interstate compact and a drawn fire escape plan
10. birth certificates
11. if you have adult children, a statement concerning their feelings regarding the adoption (Noah was present for the visits, so she spoke with him directly)
12. Sworn disclosure statement, signed, notarized
13. federal tax returns
14. financial statement forms
15. proof of insurance: life, auto, home
16. Home safety standards checklist (the home requirements, many pages long)
17. Emergency Evacuation plan and supplies
18. Pet vet records
19. Proof of adoption training completed (31 hours total for our country)
20. written statement from our foster care worker supporting the adoption and regarding our history with their department
After all of these documents are submitted, you are required to have three in person meetings with your social worker. She spoke to each kiddo individually, and then Brian and I separate and together. We talked about childhoods, discipline, marital relationship, future goals and our plan for Lucas’s forever care. She helped us make a list of resources and contacts for kiddos with down syndrome so we can learn as much as possible during our wait and be better prepared for his needs. Then she wrote an extensive report (I was BLOWN AWAY at how spot on she was in her detailing our family life) for us and our adoption agency to review. I seriously cannot say enough good things about Vivian and the whole Datz foundation. They are top notch professional, thorough, efficient. Loved working with them.
It’s a LOT. Luckily many of the documents were also needed for our dossier, so we were able to begin tackling that at the same time.
Our next step is a form called the i800a. This will be the next long wait, but once it’s complete all of our papers will be compiled in a packet called a dossier and sent to his country to be translated and presented to the courts. Stateside, it’s our last big step.
Here is hoping that pesky Maryland clearance comes today! If so, I will drive to Vienna, hopefully, to pick up our copies so I can mail the i800a Monday morning.
Every day I alternate between joy and excitement that we are “almost” there and fear and panic that anything could still happen. God is growing me in this season, I know it, so that when Lucas arrives in our arms, I will be the mommy he needs.