March 28, 2011

While Doing Adopton Home Studies: Part 2



To read the first part of this story, click on While Doing Adoption Home Studies: Part 1.


     What does the color orange signify, I asked myself.

     I had just toured the home of a couple hoping to adopt a child from the agency where I held a part time job doing home studies. What impressed me was their use of the color orange—splashed throughout their modest home—the deep shade of pumpkin skin to the soft shade taken from an evening sunset. Orange on walls, furniture, carpets, window hangings, accents. Not unattractive, but a statement about this family.

     So what does the color orange signify? I researched the subject, and learned orange is the color of warmth. And, interestingly enough, the couple I had interviewed were warm people.

     Working for an adoption agency during the time my husband, Monte, and I were undergoing the adoption process, was a rewarding experience. I  recall several of my experiences.


     One couple, I’ll call them Roger and Diane, were so petrified of the home study that I couldn’t get them to talk with me. I understood—after all, I was going through the same process. We viewed home study interviewers as powerful people,  people who held our fate in their hands. What if we do or say something they didn’t like? They could very well deny us of our desire to have our family.

     Yes, I understood this. I was also taught that to be a professional, you focused on the other person, and didn’t share aspects of your own life.

     I decided to through the professionalism concept out the window, and began sharing my story with them. They visibly relaxed, freed of the reins that kept their story captive. I left them having a positive interview.

         One thing was comforting about doing adoption homestudies while undergoing the adoption process myself. Whenever I was feeling down, scheduling a homestudy would unite me with others sharing the same experience—even though I didn’t share my end of the situation.


     Part of the adoption work was delivering babies. That is, picking up a baby from the hospital and taking it to its new parents. I attended a couple of these deliveries, happy, joyous, occasions for the new parents.

     Then one day I went to a hospital with Sonja, the agency director. Sonya assigned me the task of carrying the baby from the nursery to the hospital exit.

     The nurse, Roberta, directed me to a wheelchair. After I sat down, another nurse brought me a tiny bundle wrapped in a blanket. She placed a five pound newborn baby girl in my arms. I fell in love with her almost immediately. How could I let her belong to someone else?

     Roberta began pushing me down the hospital corridor, with Sonya walking beside me. For all intents and purposes, I was a new mother taking my baby home.

     “What a beautiful baby,” someone said. “Congratulations.”

     “She’s not mine!” I snapped, as Sonja glared at me.

     “You’re not supposed to say that,” she admonished me quietly.

     Sonja brought the car while Roberta and I waited, my heart breaking all the while.  Roberta took the baby while I climbed into the car. Then she placed the infant in my arms (this was before child car seats were required, and people held infants and children on their laps).

     We drove out into the country, and arrived at a modest ranch house. I got out of the car with the baby, and Sonja and I entered the house. Then I literally threw the baby into her new mother’s arms. It was fortunate that the new mother was so excited that she didn’t notice.

     On the ride back to the agency, I told Sonya that I couldn’t do that again.

     About two months later, I held my very own five pound beautiful baby daughter in my arms.  


     It was funny. Monte could neither say nor do nothing wrong in the eyes of our adoption caseworker, who had close to forty-years of experience. She really liked him. Yet, she didn’t like me. To her, I could neither say nor do nothing right. Although Greta had had forty years of experience and I was a newbie to the adoption caseworker field, I felt the root of our problems rested on the fact that I was working in the same field as she was. It was a difficult, unique twist to the adoption process.

     I shared my observations and feelings with my boss.

     “Don’t worry,” Sonja said. “If that agency refuses to place an infant with you, I will do so through this agency. I might even assign you to do your own home study, too.”

     This was comforting. At least, it assured me that a child would be placed with my husband Monte and me. I began imagining how I would approach doing my own home study. Finally, I sat at my desk and began what it seemed would be a tome. I would have to shorten it…

     Fortunately, it didn’t come to that. Our call on our daughter came in mid-May, and she arrived home in early June. But I sometimes wonder: what would it have been like to do my own home study? Would I have been able to reject my application if I found something extremely negative?



Five States Allow Adoptees Access to Original Birth Certificates

Adoptee Finds Biological Family: Mine

My Mother’s Secret: An Adoption Story

Oprah and I: Adoption Reunion Experiences

Why I Haven’t Written About Meeting My Sister


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