Friday, November 23, 2012

What is a Home Study?

During National Adoption Month, you may be thinking of choosing adoption for your own family.  If so, you will inevitably have to complete a home study.  This is the phase we are currently in.  It's a tough one and a long one, and when I tell people we are working on our home study, they always ask, "What's that?"  Well, here are all the nitty-gritty details. 

For our adoption, we have a placing agency and a home study agency that we are working with.  The placing agency is the agency that we are contracted with (AGCI) who has people on the ground in Bulgaria.  They will guide us through every step of the adoption here, and they will be there in Bulgaria to make sure things on that side of the ocean go as smoothly and as quickly as possible.  Our placing agency does not have an office in our state.  Thus, they recommended a local agency in our state who can complete our home study for us.  Our placing agency and and the Bulgarian government want to be assured that we are capable of being fit parents to our future Bulgarian beauty.  They want to know that our home is safe, that we are well-prepared for parenting, and that we are legal, honest people with no malicious intentions for our child.  To be assured of this, our home study agency requires us to complete a TON of paperwork so that they can know all about us.  Yes, we completely lose our privacy!  Once we complete all this paperwork and collect the needed documents, we send it off to our local home study agency, and then we complete a series of interviews with a social worker.  One of those interviews will be done in our home.  Told ya this is a loong process.  The social worker will prepare an official home study report and this report will be a crucial piece of our Dossier paperwork that will be sent off to the U.S. and Bulgarian governments.  We cannot adopt without a completed home study included in our Dossier.

We have a huge need for time right now.  Our fall semester at seminary has been brutal- by far the most rigorous semester we have had thus far.  School has left us limited time for adoption stuff although we are trying our best to chip away at our adoption to-do list.  We are fundraising, but sometimes I wish we could "timeraise" as well.  We are hoping that Christmas break will be a time when we can make huge strides on our paperwork.  If you're wondering what kind of paper work I'm talking about, here's a to-do list for our home study paperwork.

to-do list updated 12/18/12
  • write personal autobiographies
  • fill out post-adoption service agreement
  • fill out home study history pack (10 pages) - - just a few gaps left
  • complete financial statement
  • photocopy most recent tax returns
  • photocopy of marriage certificate
  • photocopy of passports
  • photocopy of birth certificates
  • take photos of inside and outside of home
  • proof of life insurance
  • proof of health insurance
  • letter stating that adopted child will be covered by insurance agency
  • reference letters (neighbor, family member, employer, friend)
  • fill out duty to disclose form
  • guardianship letter
  • NC child abuse registry form
  • NC sworn statement
    Found out that the following things take a little longer and can be sent later!
  • complete health examination forms  
  • get veterinary records for our dog
  • fill out community resource sheet
  • get fingerprinted at police station
We also have to complete 7 adoptive parenting classes before we can begin meeting with our social worker.  People sometimes ask me why we are required to take parenting classes?  After all, any average couple can get pregnant and have absolutely no idea how to parent a child, but they are not made to take parenting classes.  I understand this response, but this is a requirement from our agency and from our country, so we will abide by it.  Also, I truly believe we have a lot to learn and that these classes are going to be very beneficial to us.  Adoptive parenting is different in many ways from "regular" parenting. Here are the titles of the online classes we have to take.  We also have to complete a lengthy workbook that touches on many of these topics as well.  (almost done with this too!)
  • medical issues in international adoption
  • the journey of attachment
  • the conspicuous family: multi-racial families
  • ain't misbehavin' - disciplining the adopted child
  • let's talk adoption- a lifetime of family conversations
  • finding the missing pieces- helping adopted children cope with grief and loss
  • Adopting the older child
Can you see from these titles how adoptive parenting can be a different kind of challenge?  I know we will learn so much invaluable information from our parent education courses.  When we finish a class, we get to print a certificate and send it along with our home study packet.

When we finally do gather all of this stuff, we have to send it in to our home study agency with a payment of $2,000.  That's our current fundraising goal.  Adoption is so costly, but I am thankful that it broken down into smaller payments.  Will you consider helping us reach this goal as soon as possible?  We definitely want to have this payment ready so that when our paperwork is in order, nothing will be slowing us down from moving this process along.  

You can help us in several ways:
  1. PRAY for time and funds for our family.  
  2. DONATE to our general adoption fund through the Pay Pal button over to the right
  3. PURCHASE a t-shirt, a bag of coffee, or a graphic print - - a % of all these sales goes toward our adoption fund. 
Please let me know if you have any other questions about the home study.  I will be sure to post updates on how we're doing with this phase.

Thanks for reading


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