As some of you know from a recent Facebook post, my journey to motherhood is on track. I have finally been assigned a licensing caseworker and she made her first home visit with me shortly thereafter. Yay! I am very pleased with the experience, professionalism, expertise, and compassion that my licensing worker brings to this process. She has worked as an adoption worker as well as a foster care caseworker. She brings over ten years of experience to the ministry of helping me through this life altering journey. In
addition to several forms that Ms. K, as I will call her, required that I fill out during our first home visit, she checked the temperature of my hot water; it was too hot (more than 120 degrees F). I have a temperature control dial on my hot water heater, so I have attempted to cool it down. Ms. K will recheck it during the second home visit this month. Ms. K also had to measure all the rooms in the house to make sure there is adequate space for the number of people who will be living in the household including the child (just me and her). She had a gadget that she placed on an opposite wall and it beamed a red light to the other end giving her the measurements from wall to wall -- cool. I think it is a laser distancing tool. She also asked about any medicines I take and whether they are properly stored away. The only medications I take on occasion are aspirin, Aleve or Ibuprofen, which are kept in the medicine cabinet or in my purse. That seemed to satisfy Ms. K.
When the child first enters my care, she will be a ward of the state and thus in foster care while in my home until the adoption is finalized. Thus, the state will make sure that every effort is made to maintain a safe and healthy home environment. I had to develop a home evacuation plan in case of a fire or other emergency, submitting a copy to the agency and keeping one for myself. I will discuss this plan with the child when she arrives in my home. Also, a phone must remain in the home at all times for emergencies. Since land lines are being phased out, it is now acceptable to have a cell phone that is always kept in the home (along with emergency contact numbers). Check!
Something I never thought about as a safety risk was the small pond behind my apartment. Post the first home study visit, Ms. K informed me that I must put an alarm or bell on the patio door that faces the pond. To my surprise there are several types of wireless bells or alarms that can be easily installed. I purchased a set of two for about $15 at Home Depot, placing one on the sliding glass door and one on the screen door as well. As soon as one opens either door a loud shrieking sound alerts me that the doors have been breached. It took me less than five minutes to stall them.
Ms. K did not leave me without my homework. I had to complete an eighteen page self home study that asked me in detail about my upbringing, my parents and their backgrounds, my siblings and my relationship with them growing up and now, all the schools I attended, what I learned from my parents and what I would do differently, my knowledge of child development, what values I would install in my child, my parenting style, the demographics of my neighborhood, the schools my child would likely attend, what recreation facilities and parks are available, my faith and religious habits, my work history, etc etc. I sat down for hours to reflect and complete the self home study. This was a good and helpful exercise. I am becoming more and more aware of how planning, intentionality, and consistency will be my some of my closest allies. Another lengthy form that I had to complete was a self assessment of the characteristics and challenges I was not willing to deal with or would be willing to deal with with appropriate training -- issues like bed wetting, aggressions, withdrawal, sexual abuse, children who are on medication, mental disabilities of various levels, etc. I know that it is important for me to be realistic about what I can physically, emotionally, and logistically handle. I know that some issues could arise later in life, but I must be honest with myself in terms of my situation now. I will, of course, continue to work/teach (God willing), but also to write. This expectation figures into what kind of issues I can handle or want to handle. While I plan to devote the necessary time to the child I adopt to ensure she is well nurtured (educationally,emotionally, spiritually and physically) and loved, I cannot lose sight of self care and nurture. I will certainly have to rearrangement my life, but I don't have to give up my other goals, as some seem to think or have suggested. Someone recently said to me that I would not be to write anymore. I feel that a big part of what I do or do not continue to do is up to me and my ability to be creative and take care of myself while taking care of my daughter. It will certainly be an adjustment(s), and it will likely be quite rocky at first. But I believe it is doable, and with sanity.
Over my lifetime there have been people (non family) to offer me help, but when the time came to do what they offered, they fell short -- too often. So I was (and maybe still am) a little worried about my support system. All of my immediate family (siblings, nieces, nephews) live in Ohio. Since I started on this journey several people outside of my biological family have said that they would be a part of my support system when I need someone to step in and care for my child in emergencies, particularly. I was told that people will promise to help but whether or not they will submit to the needed background check is another thing. So far the three people who offered to be a source of support have submitted to background checks. I am grateful! I am also grateful for sisters who have adopted (one a baby and another a teenager) who have stepped forward to offer a listening ear and/or advice -- they know who they are. At a later time and with their permission I might mention their names.
I was also very pleased when Ms. K offered to reach out to the caseworker of the child I am interested in adopting. She has requested a report on the child and when it arrives it will be shared with me. Keep praying for me and for my child to be--wherever or whoever she may be.