We were on placement number two. The social worker was coming in a few hours. Turkey-man had learned two new phrases, had joined them into one sentence and was walking around repeating it over and over. “Mommy angry. Mommy drop [Little-Flower].”
(Disclaimer: I did not actually drop Little-flower. I almost did, but I caught her. And, yes, Mommy was angry, but it was with Turkey-man and had nothing to do with Little-Flower nearly crashing to the floor.)
Anyhow, I was praying that he forgot his newfound ditty before the social worker arrived because what he was saying sounded pretty incriminating and I would have some explaining to do! I did not need this on my home visit documentation!
In chronicling our journey, this seems like a good stopping point to discuss post-placement home visits – what to expect and how to survive them!
We had gotten through the poking and prodding of infertility treatment, our lives being scoured for our home study and now that we had finally achieved parenthood, we get to have a social worker visit for six months for us to demonstrate we were actually capable parents. Doesn’t that sound fun?
Where we live the social worker comes once in the first week the child is in your home and then every 30 days for a total of seven visits before the adoption can be legally finalized. In reality, they are not coming to be intrusive, although it can feel that way after going through everything needed to become an adoptive parent. Really they want to make sure the child is not being neglected or abused.
To me, these seem like overkill, but apparently somewhere along the line someone was adopting children with ill-intent in mind. As desperately as it seems most who adopt want to become parents it is hard for me to envision any child not being showered in love and adoration upon entering an adoptive family.
The social worker asks basic questions like the weight and length statistics for each monthly well-child check-up. She (Or he, but for the sake of the article I will use she because all of our social workers were female.) will inquire as to how things are going, how much is the child sleeping, eating, etc. We had to show her where the baby was sleeping. Really, it is all pretty basic. She is not looking for perfection, just signs that the baby is being taken care of.
Although I logically knew she was not looking for perfection, the visits always made me anxious. Was I doing a good enough job? If I had to do them again, here are some tips I wish I would have kept in mind:
- Relax! Note as I said above, she is not looking for perfection. She just wants to make sure the child is being taken care of. Life as a new parent is tiring and overwhelming. That is true even for biological families. Waiting for years to become a parent does not make the transition any easier.
- Relax! (Wait, did I say that already?) Your house should not be freakishly clean! If it is, you are probably not attending to the baby as you should.
- Relax! Be honest about how things are going. It is okay to admit that things are not perfect. She works with adoptive families for a living. She has probably heard and or seen the struggles that you are facing before and could probably give you some tips or resources on getting through it.
- Relax! Have a sense of humor about the experience. Yes, there are mothers (I use that term here loosely!) out there who take little care of their children popping out baby after baby with no one scrutinizing their every move as a mother and here you sit with someone documenting your every moment as you work to adopt this little one. It will drive you insane if you think about that too long! Humor is your new best friend as you cope with the overwhelming new responsibility that adopting a baby brings!
- Relax! She is not there on her own accord to be intrusive. The state laws mandate that these home visits occur. Do not resent her presence.
If you don’t get the theme yet, my basic advice is to relax. You will get through the process. You can even have a major “Mama Fail” and still survive! Before you know it, it will all be behind you. The paperwork will be signed and a judge will proclaim you as a legal family! Now you’re onto the easy part-parenting! Oh, wait…it is actually the not-so-easy part…!