Reflecting back on the adoption process there is one thing that was almost as bad as being chemically altered by hormones and that was completing the home study. I did not like the adoption home study process. Let me repeat. I did not like the adoption home study process. The thought of having to prove that we were worthy and capable of taking care of children to someone who has met us twice and only really knows us from the documents required was very stressful to me. The process was especially frustrating when I would hear of another baby born to an unfit parent. I didn’t understand why we had to prove we could raise a child and others, who should never have a child, popped kids out like a Pez dispenser. Logically, I understood why we needed to go through the process, but emotionally, I had trouble. We started the process in November and finished in early February. I don’t know if that’s a normal time frame, but for me, it felt like forever.
The first part of the process was finding an agency in Kentucky that didn’t cost an arm and a leg and who had some clue about embryo adoption. Bethany Christian Services is linked with the NEDC, but at the time, they were not licensed to do home studies in Kentucky. I talked with numerous agencies and they had prices from $1500 – $3000. Three grand sounded like a racket to me, so we opted for a less expensive agency with a flexible payment arrangement. Adoption Assistance was recommended by a friend from work, so we decided to work with them. They were extremely patient with my unending questions — I didn’t want to screw up anything.
I began to gather all the required documentation, which included financial statements, employment verifications, criminal and child abuse background checks, birth certificates, medical exams, reference letters and so on. We had to disclose any arrests even if they were no longer on record and lo and behold, Jeremy was arrested when he was 19 years old. I believe the exact charge was “young and dumb.” Since it was disclosed, I had to go to our court house and get a letter stating that there was no longer any record of this arrest…I can say I didn’t exactly fit in with the rest of the people getting arrest records at the courthouse. Another hoop was required to jump through because at least one of my reference letters mentioned our pets. Because of this, we had to provide records of their rabies vaccinations as well as a letter from the vet stating that none of them, including our dopey beagle, were viscous. Our cats were due for their shots and I was determined to get this home study completed, so at the beginning of our historic ice storm in January 2009, I carted them to the vet’s office for their shots. Thankfully, I didn’t slip and break any limbs.
Even though we were going through embryo adoption and child-proofing our house wasn’t going to be needed for some time, we had to childproof the house. I think I made at least three trips to Target to get the right things to lock certain doors or cabinets. I guess it’s one thing we won’t have to worry about once we are in need, but I found it odd to be going through the exercise when the need was likely at least 18 months off.
We met with our home study case worker twice. The first time, she interviewed us individually and together. Jeremy said she asked him if he really wanted to do this, because sometimes husbands get drug along for the ride and really don’t want to adopt. She also asked us both what our wedding anniversary was and how we met. Thankfully, our answers were the same. Additional questions about our upbringings and desire to adopt were asked. The second meeting was at our home where we discussed positive adoption language and our house was inspected to ensure we had adequate shelter and baby proofing.
After this second meeting and providing an inch thick stack of paperwork our home study was written and sent to us for review. I have to admit, we sounded like saints and soon my fears of getting denied started to go away. Once Adoption Assistance blessed us, our home study was sent to Bethany Christian Services to be reviewed per the NEDC’s requirements. Within a couple of days, the NEDC was notified that we were approved and we could finally move on to the next step which was scheduling our first trip to Knoxville. I was so relieved to have this part of the process completed. To me, it was forward progress to the goal. Our first appointment with Dr. Keenan was scheduled for May and I could actually relax…at least for a few weeks.