After that conversation finished, we discussed the home study process and paperwork. All the forms were explained to us, one by one.
Whew! There is a LOT of paperwork! We've done a good amount of reading about what takes place in an adoption, so it wasn't a huge shock to get form after form after form, but every state is slightly different, and our agency has some forms of their own design, too. We are optimistic about it all and recognize even this paperwork is a blessing. We are so incredibly grateful to be taking steps toward an adoption that even copious amounts of paperwork seems much more like a blessing, than a burden. And strangely, none of it feels overly invasive. Yes, it is making oneself vulnerable, but isn't that the nature of parenthood? We'd like to think all of this paperwork just begins in a very distant way to prepare us for that exciting time and sacrifice of parenting well our future beautiful child! But back to the meeting...
It took about 45 minutes to have everything explained. The staff was very gracious with all our questions. We definitely wanted to make sure we knew what to sign and where, what to fill out, what needs notarized, etc., to not waste time in having to do anything over.
Here's a sampling of the paperwork we'll have to do:
Some of the forms are basic "sign & date" forms: the fee agreement, service agreement (contract with the agency), etc. So those will be pleasantly easy.
We have to provide copies of our birth certificates and marriage certificate, our latest tax return, and proof of auto insurance.
We each have to write an autobiography, and we have to draw a floor plan of our house and show escape routes in case of a fire.
There are also some appointments we have to make with various entities: our doctor's office, to get physicals and lab work; the fire department, to do a fire inspection on our home; and the police department, to get fingerprinted and have a background check done.
We have to show all pertinent financial forms (savings, investments, etc.) and a typical monthly budget. We have to send in certified driving records and letters from our workplaces certifying our employment there.
Our two housemates also have to provide medical records and get fingerprinted, and even their dog will play a part! We have to submit up-to-date vaccination records for him.
We have to attend an in-day pre-adoptive parenting training (we did that on June 20) and two online education classes.
We had to choose four references to send in letters vouching for our suitability as adoptive parents.
Then, after all that paperwork is filled out, signed, notarized as needed, and mailed to our agency, we'll be assigned a social worker. He or she will meet with us four times: once at the agency, once in our home, and once with each of us individually. And the social worker will meet in person with one of our references.
Then after the visits are done, our social worker will write up what technically is the "home study." This is a formal document that summarizes the agency's evaluation of us as prospective adoptive parents. It can be shared with other agencies we might work with, as well as courts or lawyers, as needed.
So that's about it! Deep breath..... It seems like a lot - and it is - but we're confident that at the end, it will all be worth it. In fact, it already is. We are so grateful to even do paperwork. It is a small sacrifice compared to the birth mom's sacrifice and the great gift of being able to parent for the first time. And when you really stop to think about it, we would give so much more than paperwork (and we will) to love a precious child as our own and welcome him or her into our home . . . Wow! Bring on the paper work!
"The joy of the Lord is your strength." - Neh. 8:10