Thursday, July 25, 2013

Foster System Lesson #3 and A Home Study Meeting

I woke up to the sounds of Noah and Miriam bickering over seating arrangements for morning TV time. I knew better than to think the day would be peaceful. All I wanted to do was go back to sleep, to take a day for myself to process my feelings about having lost my grandma. But there was breakfast to serve. A dozen rooms to tidy. Questionnaires to complete. A yard to mow. Reality wouldn't wait, so my feet found the ground. My hands poured cereal and milk, and my mind set itself on deep cleaning and organizing.

By noon I was wondering how we'd ever be ready for our home study meeting. We had 24 hours left to prepare and 48 or more hours of preparation left to accomplish. I wasn't handling the stress anymore. I felt feverish, overwhelmed, and as if all motivation was gone. My sweet husband sent me to nap and took the kids to town for lunch. I thought about my grandma and cried myself to sleep in my silent house.

I could have slept until Friday. Instead, I awoke two hours later in much the same mood but feeling physically strengthened. And I moved on to work on our bedroom. In that moment, sitting on my floor in a pile of storage to be sorted, not a single part of me cared about the outcome of our meeting. By now, the kids had been through ten days of constant activities and were also sad about grandma. No one was getting along, and Amos and I were both scraping the bottom of our patience reserves. I wanted to cancel the meeting altogether, even if that meant abandoning our entire adoption plan. I voiced these thoughts as I continued moving through the motions of organizing, cleaning, and typing answers. At 2 AM, I typed the final period of the final answer to the final question. The to-do list wasn't finished, but I was.

I read recently that stress is one of the enemy's greatest weapons, and last Thursday he used it well. It was truly only by Jesus' hand that I managed to limp through the day, and only by the grace of God that I awoke Friday morning feeling rested and content with my cluttered house.

When Ms. S arrived and I realized that she really did expect all of our paperwork to be completed, I felt content working through the last of it as she read through our questionnaires. I didn't offer excuses for the unfinished paperwork or clutter left around the house, probably because she didn't seem at all concerned with it. She seemed less than concerned with a bedroom that still waited for a door to be installed or with the medicines that had yet to be secured under lock and key. She didn't seem worried about the household chemicals that were stored at ground level and didn't even seem to notice that our island counter was sitting unsecured on the cabinets below. I expected a dozen things to be on our fix-it list when she left, but it was simply: 1) email a reference's address and 2) post our fire escape plan. I asked her if she had any other items that we would need to complete to be licensed, but there were none. She'll visit once more where she'll look at "anything changed that we want to show her" and finalize paperwork. It should take about 15 minutes.

My most recent foster system lesson: #3 is

Don't stress over your home study! 

A home study feels like the be all and end all of foster licensing. In reality, it is only a part of what is necessary for licensing. Our social worker and her supervisor (who teaches our class) will also have a say in the decision. I'm wondering, now, if their opinions will matter more than the home study. We were told on the first night of class that the entire nine weeks would be like a very long interview. At the time, I thought it was a metaphor, but I'm learning how true that really is. The social workers observe us from the first contact we make. They see what our priorities are, how organized we are, how respectful, cooperative, and willing. It is the social workers who get to know us. The home study is simply a double check of what the social worker has already seen, a verification that there isn't a red flag that may have been missed.

Amos and I were far more concerned with the condition of our home than Children's Division was. I think that is probably the case with most responsible families.

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