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Orientation

August 17, 2011

Now, we are officially expectant parents once again and anxious to get the process moving forward. First step to that end: orientation. It sounds harmless, right? Upon learning about our acceptance on Friday, our social worker emails us a huge stack of documents we have to print out and have in front of us while we go over everything with her by speaker phone. So, we make an appointment for the coming Wednesday and arrange for Eliza and Jude to spend the afternoon at a friend’s house and Tim to get his last period covered so that he can come home in time. Simple enough, thanks to some sweet friends and a generous principal.

The orientation was exciting. The first document we went over was a flow chart of how the process works. A step-by-step visual. For a type A, list maker like me, it was thrilling to have it all spelled out. After that, we went over each document one by one. Most of it was what you would expect: a service agreement with the agency, release forms notating that there are third-party things out of the agency’s control, agreement forms for post-adoption services and the like. The last document we went over was the one that took me by surprise. It was a form listing a ton of different disorders and diseases, which required the adoptive parents to select “yes” or “no” for each one. I almost choked as I looked it over. It basically looked like an “order form” for a child, requiring you to choose what is and is not acceptable. Now, please know this is standard procedure and nothing weird about our agency, but I was just not expecting it at all. Needless to say, Tim and I had the hardest time filling it out. More about that later.

After she had gone over all of the documents and asked if we had any questions, our social worker brought our attention back to the first sheet, the flow chart. She pointed out that the step after orientation was “home study.” She explained that she was traveling to Houston (remember, the agency is 3 hours away in Waco) the coming Monday in order to do a post-placement visit with another family and wondered if we would be interested in doing our home study then. She told us that we could split the mileage with the family doing the post-placement visit, and it would save her a second trip to Houston at a later date. Everybody wins.

We about fell out of our chairs at this point. We had just submitted our application ten days earlier, and now we were already talking about scheduling a home study four days out! After we finished stuttering, “Uh… well… I don’t know…,” we finally started gathering information of what that would entail and discovered that we had to make some changes around our house to make it home study ready, fill out detailed individual autobiographies for each of us, do 8 hours of online training and fill out all the paperwork we had just gone over during orientation to give to her when she arrived. Oh, is that all?

Our social worker of course explained that she would be happy to come to Houston at a later time if we didn’t think we could do it. There was no pressure. She just wanted to let us know about the option. We thanked her, asked if we could let her know the next day, hung up and looked at each other. After a few minutes of “can we do this?” “it’s a lot of stuff” “I don’t know if we can get it all done” etc., we finally just realized that as crazy as the next four days would be, we were really looking forward to being done with the home study step, so we decided to go for it. You can probably imagine the insanity that ensued. Stay tuned.

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