Category Archives: Homestudy

Part 1: How we came to match with Big Mama or How Big Mama sort us out.

One of the wonderful things about the Open Adoption Interview Project is all the new blogs to follow. One of the awful things about the Open Adoption Interview Project is all the new blogs to follow. I’m obviously going to have to spring clean my Google Reader so I can fit some new ones in. One I found last night via the project was a relatively new blog called Tears of/and Joy. While Anne, the writer, has been part of the adoption triad for a couple of years she has been blogging just a couple of months. Anyway, I was reading this post of hers called Losing My Religion, about how their mixed faith family was considered to be an impediment to adoption by adoption agency workers, and I thought ‘I’ve never shared how we came to match so quickly’. The two things are related. You’ll have to go to Anne’s blog to read her take on their situation and how religion is considered by adoption agencies, but I thought I would share an important part of our story. I actually wrote most of this as a comment on Anne’s post, but what the heck.

We’re atheists. There I’ve said it. Shock, horror. I’ve actually had people gasp when I’ve shared this. There are actually quite a lot of us out there and most of us are perfectly nice people. Atheism is not paganism and we’re not heathens.  Actually, we’re humanists which is what I’ve started saying rather than atheist, as it is a more accurate description and because there is such a negative connotation with atheism for many. What is humanism? As far as we’re concerned it comes down to this- We don’t believe in the supernatural. This earth here? This life? This is what we have. We have do the right thing this life time for others, for ourselves, for this place, no do overs. We are compelled by reason, by logic and by our humanity, which we believe is inside pretty much all but some total psychopaths, to do so. Not by some super natural being.

I worried that our atheism/humanism would be a major road block to adoption. There were agencies that wouldn’t even consider us.  In the end, being atheists/humanists was one of the main reasons why Big Mama, first mother to our son Fox, considered us.

We had our home study done by a local home study agency. The agency isn’t a matching agency and does no marketing to expectant parents, just home studies for foster and adoptive situations and pre and post placement counseling. We were planning to sign up with one of the big open adoption agencies on the West Coast. We didn’t qualify (not Christian, not medically infertile) for most local agencies and we were not willing to work with agencies who wouldn’t work with same-sex couples and weren’t focused on open ethical adoption. Big Mama approached our agency looking for potential adoptive parents who were atheist or agnostic or just not super religious just as our home study was making its final stops through the court system. We had been very upfront in our  home study interviews about our beliefs. Prior to our application we had debated waffling about being spiritual (you can be without being religious I believe) or something and didn’t feel it was an accurate representation. We settled on saying we were humanists/atheists and explaining our families religious leanings. When we questioned the home study social worker as to whether being atheists would be a stumbling block to being matched she gave an honest response, that for some expectant parents it would be, but that it would appeal to others and some just wouldn’t care; that it was important to be honest as the adoption triad is an ongoing relationship. We spent a fair bit of time explaining what humanism meant to the social worker as she wasn’t familiar with it. In the end it was that frank conversation about humanism and atheism that meant our names were put forth as one of a very short list to Big Mama.

Just a note, Big Mama wants Fox supported to explore and come to his own conclusions about faith, but  to know and understand no matter what route he decides that kindness to fellow humans and this place we live in is valued highly. This has always been our parenting philosophy, that our job is to support and guide, but not dictate. So that is where it started for us. A call, “We’ve got an unusual situation. An expectant mother has approached us.  She is wants to find a family for her son that isn’t religious, but maybe agnostic, atheist, just not religious. She wants potential adoptive parents who really want a fully open adoption.” A few other things too, but really that is how it started. I realize that for some who see adoption as a way to bring souls to the Kingdom of Heaven this placement is a disaster, but our journey, our charge is quite different, to be loving, stable, supportive parents to a child and  loving, open and supportive family members to his mother (first mother) and sisters (plural – Big Sis and Bean).

We were to have our second visit today, but Big Mama’s car wasn’t up to the drive, so we’re going up to see her in the next few days and, like her, I’m excited and nervous all at the same time. The last visit, when Fox was less than two weeks old, was both beautiful and heartbreaking. This visit will be shorter than we had originally planned for today, but we’re already talking about our Solstice visit. I’m hoping for a beautiful visit again, and wishing for less pain in goodbye. A girl can wish. Right?

And because this post needs a photo and this photo, or rather the very fine shirt that was embroidered for Fox, should be seen. I present to you,
Reformed Blastocyst by a most talented and gracious friend ML.
Oh how my science geek rejoices at this.
IMG_2142

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Filed under Adoption, first parent, Homestudy, humanism, open adoption, visit

Adoption Home Study Update

Thought it was about time for an update, especially as I just finished chatting with Kristin from Parenthood Path who is just plain awesome. Thank you Kristin for talking and listening and prompting me to think for the past couple of hours. However, I must say I am not sure how grateful I should be for the additional blogs to investigate that you suggested.

The latest news is nothing. Well not nothing. Our homestudy report is with the judge. Once he or she approves us (hopeful) then we can start making more noise and putting it out there that we’re hoping to adopt. Fingers crossed the judge will approve.

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Filed under Adoption, Homestudy

Home Study Visits in Review

Why on earth did I have my knickers in such a twist? Really? She came. She talked. She listened. She took a tour of the house led by Bean. The dog didn’t yap incessantly, but laid by her feet or on the sofa being petted, being the best little puppy a family could ask for. The cats meowed and presented themselves for petting, but not annoyingly so. They were all their best selves, and hopefully we were too. Bean was awesome and enthusiastic, but awesome enough to act out a little so we could demonstrate dealing with a preschooler. No way you’re getting off to preschool in the morning without a little drama, especially if your kid has the kind of hair that mats overnight into clumps of impenetrable carpeting.

She prompted us to think, and to discuss. Just how could our children disappoint us? I expect the *right* answer is that they couldn’t, but neither Green nor I answered that way. It wouldn’t have been honest. How would you answer? Could your children disappoint you? Green’s answer was better than mine, I couldn’t get past the loaded nature of the question and semantics. We both discussed it in terms of who they come to be as adults and how they treat people and the disappointment being directed at ourselves for our parenting failures. What we both felt was implicit, but didn’t articulate was that none of these feelings preclude loving your child.

Green surprised me with his emotion and honestly with his answers in the joint interview. I had to get up and walk away at one point for fear that I might become emotional watching him be emotional. I know he listens to me, but apparently my incessant chatter for the past few years about open adoption has been listened to AND processed. I mean, I knew it had, but I hadn’t given him credit for how articulate he could be on the topic. And because it is Green, how passionate he was about it. I love how he has strong convictions and stands by them. That characteristic was part of the attraction way back when too. (Got to love a man who stands up to those who sexually harass or are sexist when he sees and recognizes those actions. Good God, I am one lucky woman.)

So now it is a waiting game. Waiting for the report to be written, waiting for the judge to review and hopefully approve. Writing and writing, filling out more and more forms, attending another workshop in California at the end of the summer and then waiting some more. Waiting, for expectant parents to decide that they do not want or can not parent. It feels awful to be waiting for someone to make that difficult choice, but it is their right to make that choice and there are multiple situations I can imagine where that would be the choice. Okay, getting heavy here again. Anyway, just to prove our house was clean (Although because we live in the desert, by 4pm when she arrived on Monday a layer of dust had settled on all the surfaces despite being dusted just 4 hours or so before here are some pictures taken a few days later (See Mum, I kept it clean.Maybe we should have dusted before she came back another day for the first thing in the morning visit, but we didn’t) Note, I also have to practice taking interior shots. I have no idea what I’m doing. Rebecca, didn’t you guys find something about interior shots? Melissa, thoughts?

A weird shot of the living room floor toward the dining room. Note that clean dog hair tumbleweed free floor! Oh and a couple of new pictures on the walls. Please note we do have chairs and a sofa:
lroom

I debated putting this picture up before the home visit. Would they think us odd? Americans can be a bit funny about the whole human body thing. I bought it a while back after seeing this featured in an apartment therapy home tour that Portland Sunshine linked to (she has such fabulous fun taste.) The original one reminds me of the images in a “Where do babies come from” book that my brother and I had as kids. Isak

Yes, I’m sharing a picture of our bathroom with you. Don’t you like to being nosy around other people’s houses? I shouldn’t admit it? Oops. Oh well, at least I put the toilet seat down.
bathroom

This shot is for anyone who has been in our home in the past few years, the mudroom without junk on the cupboards. I planned to redo the shelves in the fabric cupboard, but there wasn’t time. Mmmmm fabric. Mmmmm yarn.
mudroom

I think the lady liked our yard. Perhaps was surprised by it. You can’t tell how large it is from this shot, but the house is so modest, the yard is such a pleasant surprise. Oh, and for those from elsewhere, this is what green looks like in the Arizona Southwest.
yard

There are more, but for next time perhaps.

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Filed under Adoption, Domestic Diva, Grow Garden Grow, Homestudy, Remodeling

Mad Dash AKA Home Study Minus Three Days

Yep, three days until the first home study visit. I think I’m supposed to be washing walls, or baseboards. Honestly, our house is just not going to look like a model home ever. It is a cute, dainty, modest first home bungalow from the 1950s. Our furniture is mismatched and recently some pieces are puppy chewed (Waaaaaaaaaalllllllllllllace ). It has the feel of a house is in lived in, which of course it is.

So what are we doing? We’re putting up pictures that have been sitting behind the sofa since we painted the living room last year and removing the stickers that a certain four-year old likes to stick to every mirror surface. Bean and I are sanding down the beat up dining room chairs that don’t match the dining room table and I’m spraying them white so hopefully they don’t look like something we just dumpster dived or left them out in the sun too long (the latter is true). We’re finally getting the towel rack and toilet paper holder up that have been sitting in their packages for five years in the master bathroom. I’m decluttering every flat surface in the house, and the sloped surfaces. Bean can dust then. Oh, how she loves to clean, must be something she gets from her father’s side, or perhaps just skips a generation. She also hums when she eats (totally me) and wakes up like a cranky pants (not me, but someone sleeping right next to me).

Do they look in your closets? I may have to do a little organization there.

Finally, we’re making an addition to the chicken coop. A hatchery/infirmary. We also have an isolation ward set up that Bean and I made last week while Green was on the mountain doing the telescope thing. We’re having some pecking problems. Yeah, I don’t think that the social worker will give a crap about the hatchery either, but we have eggs arriving today and luckily a broody hen who’ll love to sit. We hope. A little more distraction from our work.

Will post pictures when it is all good and clean and my camera is fixed : (. Pictures of the chicken hatchery AND the house. Wish us luck. We certainly need it. Maybe we should just have the whole home study meeting outside in the back yard. Just have to cover up the beer making equipment and the zip-line so as to not suggest delinquency and reckless behavior.

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Filed under Adoption, Cluck, Domestic Diva, Homestudy

Home Study Initial Paperwork

So, it has been ridiculously quiet on this blog, not for lack of things to talk about or things that are festering (really festering is the most appropriate term for my state of mind often), but I was a woman on a mission. So while it isn’t in the mail, it will be tomorrow, our initial home study paperwork is complete.

Adoption Orientation Sheet – check
Agency Contract – check
Homestudy 8 page Application (this is so much longer than you’d think and I had to retype a lot of the actual form I had so many corrections) -check
Adoption Autobiography (10 pages of things you never knew about us. Oh wait, it is us so you probably did know.)-check
Financial Declaration (just what is our net worth? Assets & liabilities revealed)-check
Financial Statement -check
Fingerprints- check
Mug shot – that is going to have to wait
Medical -check
First of numerous large checks – check

CPS clearance requested – check
Six references contacted and letters requested – check (be kind darlings, be kind)
Accumulation of various official forms -started

Physical Home Study Appointment 1 & 2 made (if anyone wants to come over and help clean. Just saying. )

Phew.

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Here we are again – Adoption

About a year ago we started seriously moving toward trying to adopt, and then we backed off. Remember the post about the home study application? Well, we’re back on again and this time we’re serious! There is a check list and I’m making serious progress on it, all toward having the home study done. We still need to work out the larger agency, but we’re already further along than last time, and I’m ready. Green? He was always ready, just waiting for me.

Plan: Submit paperwork by end of week next week. I am a woman on a mission. Scratch that. We are a family on a mission.
Adoption Checklist

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Rain. Wet, Wonderful Rain.

Definitely Welly Weather
One of my favorite rain photos from two years ago in Pisa. Did I mention we get to go back for a few weeks very soon?

I’ve recently turned a corner in the whole adoption thing and it means we’re back working on paperwork and I’m really excited about that. More about my navel gazing at another time, but in the meantime K., my plan is to send you some stuff to look over tomorrow. Okay? Today, it is raining in Tucson, grey skies and cool. Who would have thought that within the past week or so it was 95 degrees and now this. Love this weather. We haven’t had near enough precipitation this winter. Love snuggling up with my family. With that in mind here are some rain songs. Do you have any good rainy day music?

and this one because it reminds me of my homeland:

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Filed under Adoption, Homestudy