The biggest part of the home study process that I have struggled with is the feeling of being judged. I know that is not the intention. The intention is to vet us thoroughly in order to provide a safe, loving and stable home for a child to live and thrive. But, in order to do that, it is the social workers duty to use judgement.
Before we started the process, my biggest fear was that my past mistakes would stand in the way of ultimately receiving approval to adopt. As we began to research adoption agencies, it jumped out at me that many agencies treat couples who are in their first marriage differently than couples where one or both spouse is in their second marriage. It’s another reason we settled on NHA. There was no judgement based on previous marital status. All couples were treated equally. Not to say it wasn’t discussed during our home study. We covered all the ugliness that accompanied my previous marriage. But, I felt like I was in a judge- free zone as we answered questions about the past honestly.
It never dawned on me that it wouldn’t be my past that was scrutinized. My husband is straight and narrow. He is everything I prayed for in a spouse. So, it is often incredulous when others learn that he had a bit of a rebellious streak in his late teens. It was twenty years ago. So what? Not a big deal. So, again. we answered questions about the past honestly.
So, after our third and final home study visit, we felt pretty good as things stood. I was working one morning when I received a call from Josh. Our social worker had emailed to notify him that he would be required to complete a chemical dependency assessment. I lost it. Cue the alligator tears. Cue the heavy sobs. I mean, this was an ugly cry. What did this mean? Were we not fit to be parents? As soon as we hung up, I called our social worker. She answered and I barely seemed to get the words out between sobs and gulps of air. Immediately she said “oh, I knew I shouldn’t have sent that in an email.” She explained it was customary and simply part of the vetting process. I wasn’t sold. I calmed my tears but remained distraught. And angry. I mean, come on. Anyone who knows Josh, knows how ludicrous this assessment was!
As I was pouring my heart out and probably crying again to my best friend later that afternoon on the phone. She just started giggling. It turned into a hearty laugh. She helped me turn something devastating at the time into something ridiculously humorous. She was right. This was funny. Josh is a stand up guy. His idea of a perfect Friday night would include reading for hours uninterrupted. We go on vacations and play cribbage in our hotel room. He has a masters in accounting. He’s more like David Spade in Tommy Boy verses Chris Farley. Anyone completing the assessment would see that right away.
This was probably the biggest derailment we encountered throughout our home study. It was ridiculous. I felt judged. I felt angry that we were singled out for this. It felt unfair to be scrutinized for something that happened twenty years ago and is no longer relevant to our character today. It felt unnecessary.
The rationale side knows it is necessary. We should be scrutinized to the tenth degree in order to adopt a child. It’s the irrational side of me that triggers the many emotions that I’ve felt on this roller coaster ride. I guess that’s what makes me human. I guess that’s what makes this journey real.
Oh. And p.s. Josh passed with flying colors. The counselor assigned to complete his assessment was adopted herself and offered to be a resource in any way should could help facilitate the process for us. Another God thing we’ve experienced along this journey.