Today I worked from home (I'm still miserably sick) all morning and then in the afternoon a social worker came by to do her first evaluation of our household. This is a necessary step for the State of California to ensure that we aren't some crazy family (which we sorta are, but don't tell her that!) that wants to adopt children for the little bit of money that comes with them (which we aren't). The meeting went well, and much of our anxiety about changes we'd have to make in our household to accommodate another child were dispelled.
For example, we had previously been told that we couldn't have children in the house sharing a room that had an age gap greater than 6 years. We figured she would tell us we'd have to move our oldest son to a different room from our youngest son (despite them only being 5 1/2 years, and we were prepared to argue the distinction). This would've seriously caused problems in that we don't have 2 extra
rooms available (1 for our oldest son and 1 for the new child). Nevertheless, this turned out not to be the case.
In addition, we were worried that she'd go all Nazi on us about earthquake proofing the house, which also wasn't the case. We do need to get some child safety locks to lock up our medicines (expected), anything chemical-related that is marked "keep out of reach of children" (mostly expected), and the chemicals in the garage (unexpected). In the end, we felt buoyed up and quite prepared to take on another child, which is good because, you know, we already have 3 and they live safely with us, too.
Some of her questions made us laugh. My favorite was when she asked if we have enough food in the house for 3 days. We reminded her that we're devout Mormons with a substantial food supply. But, really, 3 days? Who doesn't have enough food on hand for 3 days?! We showed her the fridge (full), the cupboards (full), the closet under the stairs (full), and the shelves in the garage (full). Yeah, we're not worried about that one.
The two things that surprised her quite a bit were that my wife has dual-degrees in elementary and special education (she kinda knows how to take care of and teach little ones ...) and that I have been CERT trained, both the normal training and the psychological training (I kinda know how to respond in the event of a major disaster). The astonished look on her face was priceless when we shared these tidbits with her. She was also surprised that we had done so much homework on the whole process and that the children were so well-informed and supportive of the idea.
A few things that pleased her was that we are interested in a child that is older than an infant, up to about 4 years old, and that we're open to adopting more than 1 child if that is an option. Our only caveat is that at least one of them must be a girl (to maintain balance in the household).
This interview by her was the first of 3. The next one will be lengthy one-on-one interviews with each member of our family. The last one will be a "final check" prior to getting certified. We also have to go through some training classes, which will eat up our Saturdays in January.
So, my Gratitude List today is related to this experience:
1) I'm grateful that the state has programs in place to keep children safe when their parents don't. I wish they were even more effective. It is troubling to me that somewhere there is at least one child that we will be adopting that may be in unsafe or neglected conditions right now.
2) I'm grateful that my wife and I feel confident in our decision to adopt another child.
3) I'm grateful that my children are not only willing but anxious to adopt another child.
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