March 26, 2011

While Doing Adoption Home Studies: Part 1



 Part I

     My input on three adoption home studies was influential.

     My husband Monte and I had had to withdraw our application for adoption from an agency in the city where we lived because we were relocating to a new jobsite.  About a month after moving to our new community Monte and I submitted our application to a local adoption agency.

     At the same time, I responded to a classified ad seeking part-time help at an agency that needed to catch up on their adoption home studies. The job was located in an adjacent county.

     During the interview with Sonya, the agency director, I stated two conditions. First, I gave notice—when a baby was placed in our home (which could be three days or three years), I’d have to leave the position immediately, without warning. Second, I emphatically stated that I would recluse myself from any decisions on which couples (or persons) should or should not have a baby placed in their home—I felt that the fact that my husband and I were in the midst of the adoption process might influence my input.

     The first condition was met successfully—I gave my notice in late May. Since our baby wouldn’t arrive home until she reached five pounds, I had a window of opportunity to complete the home studies I’d already started.

     My response to the second condition surprised even me. I adamantly contributed my opinion on three placements.

     In the first situation, Sonya was prepared to place an infant with a couple whom she liked, a couple who had had a foster child in the past. The child had been removed from the couple’s home because the wife had disciplined the child by filling the bathroom sink with water and holding her foster child’s face in the water.

     “Don’t you think she could change?” Sonya asked.

     “I don’t think so,” I responded.

     The placement was not made.

     Another case was a private pre-placement placement adoption that the courts had asked the agency to study. While interviewing the prospective single mother, who already had the child in her care, I felt that she needed the child so badly that her needs were overshadowing the baby’s needs. Again, I shared this with Sonya. Later on, she told me that the judge had not approved the adoption, apparently picking up on what I reported, and supporting my findings.

     The third situation was just the opposite. I worked up a home study on a couple who lived on a farm. Just before I arrived, the wife had finished canning a batch of fruit. The couple showed no discouraging signs—a solid couple, great environment for a child.

     When I returned to the office, Sonya told me that she didn‘t intend to place a child with this couple because they belonged to a faith that was borderline fundamental.

     “An adopted child has enough to deal with besides that.”

     Sonya was simply going to hang onto the application until she could tell the couple they had reached an age when they were too old to consider for adoption.

    I expressed my surprise at her sentiments, and told her how positive I felt about this couple. Apparently she listened, valuing my input. It wasn’t long before she told me that the agency had placed an infant with this couple.

     These were extreme cases. In general, I was able to keep to my second condition. I counted myself among the very fortunate that I held such a personally therapeutic job while I was undergoing the adoption process. During the moments of discouragement, I could schedule a home study. While discussing adoption with other prospective parents, they unknowingly helped me through the process.

     The home study is a nerve-wracking but necessary evil of the adoption process, and when done right can have many benefits for prospective adoptive parents and the agency acting on their behalf. But in the end, the adoptive parents can know that they have something that bio-parents lack: the stamp of approval from society on their eventual becoming a parenting couple.

Watch for Part 2 of this post.



Five States Allow Adoptees Access to Original Birth CertificatesAdoptee Finds Biological Family: Mine

My Mother’s Secret: An Adoption Story

Oprah and I: Adoption Reunion Experiences


1 Comment »

  1. Got to disagree on one point – the adoptive parents do not have “stamp of approval from society” simply because a home study has been done by an agency, by one person. It’s a matter of what that person feels, it depends on what the agency thinks (such as not liking the parents belonging to a fundamental religion), but is not the approval of “society”. It’s simply a tool we use, sometimes it works out great, sometimes it doesn’t. In truth, it isn’t any different than being a natural parent. Sometimes it works great, sometimes it doesn’t.

    Comment by Fran — March 26, 2011 @ 12:20 pm | Reply

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