Sunday, June 24, 2007

the home study

Well, the first big step towards becoming a mom was picking a home study agency and getting started. My friends L and D both used Vista Del Mar for their home study. I had worked with them as a social worker and child advocate and I knew they had a good reputation. So, on February 1st I sent off my application (and a check) to initiate my home study.

In return, Vista sent me a packet of paperwork. I had to write an autobiography, which honestly, up to this point, has been the hardest thing for me. I had to summarize my life in 4 pages or less. I'm 38 years old for crying out loud...what do you include and what do you leave out? Somehow I managed to get it done in 4 full pages, double spaced. The rest of the stuff was pretty easy - criminal record statement, fingerprinting, medical exam, employment verification, tax returns, bank statements, birth certificate and a bunch of agency forms. I also had to ask 4 dear friends to write letters of recommendation for me. Thankfully, they were all more than happy to do so. (My friends rock!) I finally finished everything and dropped it all off to Vista on March 14th. The next day, I was assigned a social worker.

I was nervous about my first visit with the social worker. I just didn't know what to expect. The visit took place in her office on March 28th. It was pretty casual really. My sw was very friendly. She asked a bunch of questions about me and my family. A few, I'm embarrassed to admit, I couldn't about my family ancestry. We spoke for a little less than an hour and then we were done. Needless to say, I went home and immediately starting researching my family history. I didn't want to look stupid in the second interview.

My second visit was on April 4th, again, in the sw's office. Again, it was pretty casual. We discussed the information in my autobiography. We also talked about why I chose Vietnam and my parenting style. The final visit, a home inspection, was scheduled for the following week.

This part made me nervous. I cleaned my apartment like it had never been cleaned before. I actually unpacked boxes that I'd had in the closet since I moved in 3 years earlier. I threw out old magazines even cleaned out the fridge. I bought fire extinguishers and had flowers out on the table. I even moved the cat's food off the dining room table and down to the floor where normal people feed their animals. *side note* I keep bailey's food and water on the dining room table because I had a horrible ant problem a few years ago, and this was an easy solution. Since I'm single, I rarely eat at the dining room table anyway. And when I do have guests, I just move everything. I know it's not normal!

When the sw arrived at my place on April 12th, she had a draft of my home study with her. She asked me to read it over and mark any errors. I can't tell you how it felt to read the last page where it said I was "approved and recommended for the adoption of one child." The sw stayed for a short while and really wasn't interested in the nooks and crannies of my place. She didn't open a drawer or closet. She just wanted a quick tour and then we sat on the sofa. When we were talking about baby proofing, I had to bite my tongue when she told me I'd have to find a higher place to keep that cat food so the baby can't get to it. I told her I'd see what I could come up with. We talked about what my next steps would be and about the vacation I had planned. I was going to London and Rome for 2 weeks and she told me I could start buying things for my daughter-to-be.

And just like that, the home study was done. All that was left was for her to print the final copy. Then it had to be signed by her supervisor and notarized. I was going on vacation so she told me I could pick it up as soon as I got back.

We got home from Rome on Monday, May 7th. I took the 8th off work to recuperate and picked up completed home study on May 9th! Now that was one thing I could check off my list!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

the decision to adopt

Last year, on my birthday, it hit me that I was another year older and still single. I wasn't just single, I wasn't meeting new guys or dating anyone. I have always wanted to be a mom and I realized that at this point in my life it was more important for me to be a mom than to be a wife. So, I decided not to let the fact that I'm still single stop me from being a mom.

I pretty much knew from the get go that artificial insemination was not for me. I didn't want to be pregnant alone. I also knew, thanks to my years as a social worker and child advocate, that adopting thru the foster care system was not something I wanted to do. I don't think my heart could take it. There was something about International Adoption that felt right. With the complete support of my family and friends, I started looking into it.

I knew a couple of people at work who had adopted from China so I decided that I would start with them. I soon learned that not one, but two of my co-workers were in the process of adopting from China. I called my friend L and she was so amazing. She shared all the info she had and offered to help any way that she could. Before I knew it, I was on the waiting list for a baby. All I had to do for this to happen was fill out one page and fax it to US Asian Affairs. Then, they said, I had to wait until I was high enough on the waiting list to start my paperwork. Sadly, little time passed before it was announced that China was closing to singles. My friend L had been in the process so long that she was just waiting to be matched. My other friend, D, was on the waiting list like me, but she was high enough to still qualify. I was too far down the list to proceed. Bummer, I thought. Now what?

I have some friends who adopted a little boy from Russia so I started looking into that. Everything sounded good except the travel. You have to make two separate trips which total over a month and I knew there was no way I could take that much time off from work before I even had the child.

I remembered that my best friend E had a friend who had adopted from Guatemala several years earlier. We got in touch via email and she talked me thru the process. Actually, Guatemala sounded great because the babies are younger, it's a short flight to Guatemala, you only have to stay for about a week and the wait times didn't seem too long. I started researching agencies and found one that I liked that is located in NC. Then I joined a few listserves for people adopting from Guatemala. It was then that I learned about all of the turmoil going on with Guatemalan adoptions right now. I decided to start my home study with a local agency that I used to work with as a social worker and at CASA. (More on this in a future entry) Eventually I came to the decision that the process of adopting is stressful enough and I didn't want to deal with the country possibly shutting down to adoptions so I decided to choose yet another country. Since I had already signed with a placement agency, I had to look at what other countries they had available for singles. That's how I got to Vietnam.

Looking back, I'm not sure why I didn't consider Vietnam in the first place. Probably because I didn't know anyone who had adopted from there. Now, however, thanks to the good ol' Internet, I have a huge circle of cyber friends who have either adopted or are in the process of adopting from Vietnam. They are a great source of information and support! In fact, if it weren't for them, it never would have occurred to me to start a blog.

So, that's how I made the decision to adopt and to adopt from Vietnam.

Friday, June 22, 2007

gotta start somewhere....

So, I've been saying for a few weeks now that I wanted to start a journal. It was something that my social worker recommended when she came for my home visit. Really, it sounded like a great idea. I could write about all the things I had to do and go thru to finally become a mom. I even bought a cute little book, but just couldn't get myself to start writing in it. Then I started thinking. I'm on the computer ALL THE TIME. And, I've been enjoying reading the blogs of others who are in the process of adopting, so I thought I'd start my own. Not only will it be a record of the process for my baby girl to see one day, but it will be a great way to keep my friends and family informed of my progress. it is. My blog - "and bailey makes three." Anyone who knows me knows that bailey is my cat.

And when my baby girl gets here, there will be three of us. Hence, the name.

Well, I'm gonna leave it at that for this first post. This weekend I'll start writing about my adoption journey so far.