Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Our Home Study

We're done with our home study!! Eeeee! 

We're just a *tiny* bit excited.

A lot of people have asked me what exactly a home study is for and what all we have to do for it, so here's the lowdown on the Neely home study.

Home Study- A series of interviews and supporting documentation put together in a report by a licensed social worker for the purpose of adoption. 

Things we needed......

Our autobiographies, pictures of our family, pictures of our home, birth certificates, marriage license, copy of driver’s license, copy of health insurance card, latest tax return, copies of pay check stubs, fingerprinting and  criminal history clearances, child abuse clearances, medical exams, employment verification letter, financial statement of net worth, international adoption financial worksheet,  guardian forms.....I could go on and list all the other many forms and papers we had to read and sign, but I'm sure you aren't really THAT interested. :) 

Paperwork date at the kitchen table

Completion of the required education.....

International Adoption Clinic seminar (8 hrs. of videos), Inter-country adoption journey Hague-Compliant training from the National Council for Adoption (10 hrs. of videos and readings), required reading- The Connected Child, pre-adoption education from the Department of State on Ethiopia, discussion questions, trans-racial exercise....I think that was all. It's all kind of blurring together...For our trans-racial exercise we were working on getting prepared to be a trans-racial (involving two or more races) family. For one part we had to go to a place where we would be put in the position of being a minority. It was good to experience being in that situation....we're typically surrounded by people who look like us, and that won't be the case for our adopted little one. We've been challenged to not automatically flock towards people who are the same as us but to try to make our surroundings more diverse. I like the way it was put in one of our International Adoption Clinic videos-

Try to surround your child with diversity. At the same time, help them to realize that physical characteristics are only one small aspect of what contributes to "matching" as a family group. Send the message that the power of a family surmounts differences of race or skin color, and show them that as a family you do not categorize other families or groups by race.
And this quote by Russell Moore in Adopted for Life-

Emphasize the good providence of God in putting your family together. "God chose to bring this child into our family through adoption. He chose to bring this child into the family through birth. Isn't it great how God brings families together? We are so happy he knew that you were to be our child!"
In our Adoption Clinic Seminar, the NCFA videos, and The Connected Child we learned a lot about development and the effects of early institutionalization.

  • The basic needs of a baby or toddler often go unmet: to be fed when hungry, to be changed when wet, to be warmed when cold, to be comforted when experiencing pain/fear/distress, to feel safe, to be held/rocked. Even if there are good caregivers in the orphanage, there usually aren't enough to be able to meet the needs of all the kids they have to take care of. 
  • Neglect and trauma during the early periods of rapid growth in the first year of a baby's life often cause problems related to areas of the brain controlling sleep, appetite, and behavioral regulation. So a lot of the education was preparation for the possibility of dealing with those kinds of issues and knowing why those issues have a high chance of showing up in the future. 
  • They haven't gotten their needs met, they have missed trust, consistent nurturing, normal attachments, safety, predictability, and what a family even looks like. 
  • Establishing a connection and building trust with a child from a hard place like that takes time, repeated loving and nurturing actions (over and over and over), physical and emotional closeness, eye contact, safety and structure.

As time consuming as the education part of our home study was, it was SO worth it. We have learned a lot, and I'm thankful Lifeline requires it. We still have a lot to learn, and I'm sure most of it we're just going to have to experience to really get! The next step for us is getting approval from USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) to bring an orphan into the country, and then submitting our Dossier. Maybe there will be another post explaining what a dossier is in the future. :) 

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