So...what Chris and I have done so far to get us that much closer to expanding our family to Plus One:
1. Made the decision to adopt
2. Talked with friends, family and colleagues who have been through the adoption process
3. Met with a social worker from a homestudy agency in MA
4. Met with a social worker from an international adoption agency in RI
5. Searched on-line for other adoption agencies and sent away for informational packets
6. Set up an appointment via conference call with an adoption agency based in CA that specializes in domestic adoptions
7. Started this blog
8. Solicited more advice from friends, family and colleagues
9. Continue to have long conversations about domestic adoption vs. international (we're leaning toward domestic)
10. Started banking all of my salary to use for adoption fees and kid-related stuff
And even though we've done all of the above (which feels like a lot already!) we've barely skimmed the surface of the process. Oy vay! By all accounts from friends, colleagues and the adoption professionals with whom we've talked so far, the rest of this process is relatively tedious, complicated and time consuming.
"It's pretty much a full time job for a while when you're pulling together all of your paper work," one of our friends says to us.
Our next step is to select an organization to help us complete The Home Study. This part of the adoption process is apparently quite the adventure (or ordeal/trial...depending on your attitude...) involving five to six visits from the social worker - a visit/interview with both Chris and I, individual interviews with each of us, followed by another joint interview and an actual home inspection. Both of the adoption professionals with whom we've met assured us that the vast majority of couples looking to adopt pass the home study with mostly flying colors.
"I only had one couple that I didn't think would do very well," says one of the social workers to us, "I walked into their home and they had white couches, whites chairs and a glass and steel coffee table that didn't have a single finger print on it. All I could think was, 'Oh my, what's going to happen when there's a little person with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in this room???'"
Since our entire house is designed to deal with the cat barf from three old and barf-prone cats (slip-covered futon furniture), I feel strongly that we're prepared to deal with kid barf and peanut butter and jelly smears. Thus I'm hoping that we'll at least pass the home inspection.
While we're completing the homestudy there is apparently a myriad of paperwork that will need to be completed/collected/submitted - financial statements, marriage certificates, proof of employment, character references, photos of ourselves and our families, fingerprints, etc.
We even have to write individual autobiographies.
All of this is going to take time. Lots of time.
This is one of the hardest parts of the adoptions process.
When you're pregnant and someone asks you about your due date you can say, "Oh, the baby will arrive in September." With adoption...who knows?
There are no guaranteed timetables in Adoption Land.
We could complete the homestudy in record time get all of our ducks in a row and a baby might still not be available for some time. Or we could get hung up in the home study and paper work phase. Or any number of things could happen. We'll just have to be positive and move forward. We can't necessarily say when, but hopefully the waiting and wondering and paper gathering and home studying will not dampen our enthusiasm for becoming Plus One.
Chris and I mentioned one night at dinner that we are leaning toward pursuing a domestic adoption. Toward the end of dinner, my mother-in-law had a sort of funny, serious look on her face so we asked what she was thinking.
"If you guys are doing a domestic adoption," she says with a suddenly huge grin, "your baby could be in-utero right now!!!"
Indeed... Our Little One may very well be out there right now, growing and getting ready to join the world and our family. We're waiting for you, Little One!