Thursday, April 26, 2007

We've been Visited, Interviewed and Educated

This is slightly overdue - I have a few things to update on. First, we had our international adoption class last Friday. Second, we had the "home visit" yesterday. Third, we had individual interviews with our homestudy agency today. It's been a good week and the end of the homestudy is in sight!

The Class

The class we took was an 8-hour course on issues related to bringing home internationally adopted children. It was required by our homestudy agency, and probably the state too. The subjects ranged from bonding and attachment issues, to specific behavioral issues related to being in orphanages, to approaching the adoption subject with the child. It was eye-opening to say the least and it sure brought us down to earth.

The class basically started with video clips from orphanages around the world. The conditions in these places are very tough, sterile and institutionalized. There is no giggling, there are no hugs and no individual attention. You can only imagine what the conditions are like for any length of time. It was easy to understand that there will be certain behaviors that will likely result from living in an environment like that. It won't necessarily be easy to figure out how to handle that. But we did get pointers, and things to look for. We got advice on how to react to certain behaviors - as opposed to resulting to discipline. It seemed to make sense, but again, we'll see how we do in real life!

The Home Visit

OK, was I really worried about this one? It was a piece of cake. Let's put it this way. If you read this whole entry, then you probably spent more time on this than the social worker spent at our house yesterday.

I'll give you the blow-by-blow anyway. Basically, we sat down at our dining room table for about 5 minutes. We chatted for a bit about how the class went, and how she is doing with getting our background checks and such done. Then we took her on a tour of our abode - um, 2 minutes upstairs and 2 minutes downstairs. She had a couple of documents I wanted to make copies of - then, poof, it was over. Easy.

Before we knew it, Ryan and I were off to happy hour and had a great little dinner of cocktails and appetizers.

So, nothing to worry about. She didn't look in any cabinets, drawers or our pantry. Really the best thing about it was that it made us pick up around the house and clean out the "kid's room." (I have to put that in quotes, since it isn't really anyone's room right now.) So, we can check this one off our list.


At our happy hour dinner last night, Ryan and I talked about issues that might come up in our individual interviews today (yes, to get our stories straight). Again, we over-prepared. Our interviews were about 45 minutes long and they both went well. Mine was second, and I got confirmation that our answers were consistent!

Essentially we had to talk about our relationship, our upbringing, our views toward parenting and thoughts on discipline. I don't really like talking about myself that long, but it was over soon enough. And, check that off our list!

So we accomplished a lot this week. We are really in the home-stretch of our homestudy. Our next immediate steps are the medical exam and getting notarized criminal background letters. Hopefully I'll be reporting back on those very soon!

After that, we have a few tough steps for immigration and our dossier (the packet sent to Poland), but it is manageable. My hope is that we have all of this done and our dossier on its way to Poland by August 1. That is a realistic date, but a lot of it depends upon the government, so we'll see!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Coming Soon: The Home Visit

We've been in the "home study" process for a few weeks now, but next week is the official home visit (or at least the first one). This is when the social worker will come to our house to get a picture of what our living environment is like. So what do we do to prepare for that? Well, one camp says clean up and start childproofing. Another contingency says tidy up a bit, but look normal - have some normal clutter around. Then I've even heard tips like put coffee on, have a plate of cookies out, etc.

I'm pretty sure I know where I fall…right in the middle. I think there is something to be said for presenting a clean home that at least has the beginnings of childproofing. I don’t think that I will go around and put plastic covers in every outlet, put breakables on high shelves or childproof all low cabinets just yet. And I don't think I want to clean so much that it looks like we always live that way and will be intolerable of messy little people.

Perhaps a little tidying up, checking the smoke detectors and getting another fire extinguisher will be sufficient. Of course we will put away some of the booze too. And I'll put on coffee…but not do cookies. Seems a bit over-kill.

I think we are ready for it. I don't really have anxiety about it, just want to be prepared! Want to see an explanation of what they do in a home study? See Adoption at

We have our all-day adoption class this Friday. Time to get some education. I'll report in after that.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Thoughts: Globally and Locally

So many people are adopting!! I swear, every time I tell someone new about this, they tell me of someone who is or just has adopted. So many are adopting internationally too. The most common countries have been China, Guatemala, Russia, Ukraine, and Ethiopia. I still think we may be the first in Nebraska to adopt from Poland though!

I do want to address the whole Angelina Jolie factor. She has really put a spotlight on international adoption. People joke that she has popularized it to the extent that picking out children is like picking out a new purse. I'd like to think that she is giving homes to children in orphanages who otherwise would grow up without a family. Also, she isn't exactly adopting newborns - her recent addition was a three-year-old from Vietnam. Once the children are toddler age and older, they become "harder to place." And their chances of getting adopted fall dramatically every year.

When asked about preferred age, many adopting families say "the younger the better." I suppose we say this too. I mean, we are going to be first time parents. Of course we want to have our child with us from the earliest point in their life possible. It is arguably better for adjustment and attachment issues for the child. (Although I've heard plenty of people say that the older children transition better because they understand that their parents have come for them.) But is an older child any less deserving of a family and a home? Of course not. OK, enough of the age subject. I'm sure I will go more into it when we are officially "waiting."

I will say this - the more people adopt internationally, the more colorful and interesting our local world becomes. (This is coming from monochromatic West Omaha, Nebraska). One benefit is that our child will not have to look far to find people who came to their parents in the same way he or she did.

I guess these are just some miscellaneous thoughts for the day. I was considering writing on some infertility stuff. I know some people are coming to this Blog who are dealing with infertility. They may have decided on the adoption path, or be considering it. We came to adoption after about 3 years of not being able to get pregnant. I'll write more on it soon - it is certainly part of our journey.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Adopting a Culture

My Aunt sent me an email stressing how important Poland and being Polish is to the Poles. It got me thinking that it is time to immerse myself more into learning about the culture and history of Poland and in embracing the links that I do have to Poland.

My understanding is that the powers that be in Polish adoption are very keen on placing children with families that have this connection and hope that the children will know their heritage. Beyond this, I think it is important to embrace the culture and history that one has; especially for internationally adopted children. By the nature of being adopted, a child will always have the wonder of where they come from, and what could have been. They likely know very little about their birthparents and will naturally have curiosities about the people of the place of their origin. I'll be proud to have some essentially ancestral connection to my child.

I think when we are done with this procedural paper pushing, and when we are officially "waiting", that we will make more efforts to learn about the culture and language. Right now, honestly, we are still a bit in disbelief that we will really be parents. I think that must be the infertility issues talking. I mean, we've been disappointed before. We have this sort of, "I'll believe it when I see it" attitude. I don't want to have this attitude. But it is what it is.

I truly believe that it will take having our dossier being finally submitted to Poland to really be able to enjoy the anticipation and believe that this is real.

OK - back to the "ebracing a new culture" part of this post. OK - I've taken a brief glance at Polish linguistics. Holy crap! I know nothing about Slavic languages. I mean...I've taken Spanish, French, Latin, Greek...I understand a bit of other romance and germanic lanugages and even some Cyrillic (just insofar as the Greek characters are similar). It looks very difficult, to say the least. Well, we will probably just take it one word at a time. Our aim will be to try to pick up enough to get around when we visit Poland and maybe have a few words in common with our child when we meet him or her!

Quick update - we just got our homestudy fingerprinting done. It was easy. Then we sent a few things to our social worker. Next step - medical exams and reference letters.