Friday, March 14, 2014

The Inspection. Intimidating?

We did our inspection back in July and August of last year. I just waited till now to write about it.
We were pretty nervous about this part of the process. When I shared the fact that we were worried the most common response we got was "Really? Why?" In our heads we were thinking okay people here's what's going to happen. A stranger is going to come in to our home and use a code book to help her deeply inspect every nook and cranny of our house. Then she'll do an in depth personal interview with each of us individually  followed by another interview with both of us together.  She will then use her findings from the inspection and interviews to determine if we were fit to be parents. Does that not sound a little intimidating to you?
We were meticulous in our preparations. We spent 2 hours each day working through the list of things we needed. Things like a fire escape ladder in every upstairs room, a fire escape family evacuation plan drawn up and laminated, a 2A10BC-rated 5lb or larger ABC fire extinguisher on every floor, fireplace or woodstove barrier, and an extra battery for each smoke detector. Do you get the sense they are a little concerned about fire? But there were other things too like child proofing everything, blinds without strings (we ended up having to get custom ones with a pull handle) working flashlight, tamper-proof electrical outlets plugs, grab bar or non skid bathtub mat /decals, hand railing on the stairs (we had to install one).  Three locked boxes for medication storage (one for internal human medication, one for external human medications and one for animal medications), typical medications needed for infants and toddlers and an infant sized CPR breathing mask ($15).  Not to mention all of the typical kids supplies like a 3 in 1 crib, basic toys, gate, car seats stuff like that. There was lots of other stuff too but you get the idea.

If you read my post Not a Fairy Tale, you'll remember that they had specific guidelines about how to prepare a foster child's room. Things like only neutral colors, no gender specific toys or interest specific toys, no wall decorations etc. explanations as to why are in the other post but this is our end result.

We had our appointment set up for 2pm on a Friday afternoon. We both took the day off work, the house was spotless and we were both in our best "we will be awesome parents" outfits. At 1:45 we sat at the table with family pictures, resumes and our code book open and ready to go. We wanted to appear super qualified and on top of things. Then we waited for what felt like forever. It was 2:15 and she still wasn't here. Did we get the wrong time? Was she lost? What do we do?

We decided to call her office and they told us she had left over an hour ago  but traffic was really bad. They assured us she would get to us as soon as she possibly could. We checked online and they were right, traffic was showing as a huge fat red line all the way to our house. We didn't know what else to do but sit at the table and talk? We proceeded to have the most awkward nervous conversation we have ever had in our lives ever! It was worse than a bad first date!

Around 2:30 I started feeling nauseous with anticipation. I just kept picturing a strict old lady in a pant suite and big glasses walking around our house criticizing everything and making us feel like worthless people that would be terrible parents. You know the ominous "adoption lady" that in all the movies. Bret voted  we needed to distract ourselves. First we played backgammon on my phone. I won yay! But now it was 2:40 and still no social worker. We ended up just playing candy crush. I was starting to get really hungry so we grabbed some cookies to munch on. At 2:50 we heard the door bell ring. She was finally here!! She came in to see us playing candy crush on our phones while covered in crumbs from  our cookies awesome.... So much for our "super qualified on top of things" first impression! We wiped the crumbs off the table and started the interviews.

I opted to go first just to get it over with. We had to fill out 30 pages of personal questions as part of the application process so she already knew pretty much everything there is to know  We went through each question and the answers I had submitted one by one.

A few questions in I was starting to feel a little unsettled that she knew everything about me and I knew nothing about her except her name and job title. Many of those questions were deeply personal like "describe your most traumatic experience and how you coped with it". It was one thing to write it down. It was a whole different thing to have a stranger read it back to me. She could see I was starting to feel uncomfortable. She gave me a warm smile and said something very close to "Kristin I have read through many intimate details of your life and your husbands life and have determined that you are both wonderful people that will be great parents. I will do everything I can to find the lucky children that will get to live with you. We just need to read through all of these to make sure I understand correctly what you were expressing and we can decide what information you would like included in your parent profile." It was the perfect response. For some reason it hadn't occurred to me that our case worker would actually be on our side. Shame on me for stereotyping them based off of Hollywood.

Everything was a breeze after that. Bret had his interview after mine. Then we did one together that was really fun actually. She shared lots of fun stories about previous home visits and some of her past experience. We were both struck by how sincere and dedicated she was to her job. By the end of the interviews she almost felt like an old family friend. We love her!

Now it was time for the inspection. I thought she would spent like 20 minutes in each room looking through every time thing. In reality she spent about 2 minutes. She did look in closets, under beds and opened a few random drawers but it was more like a quick peek. She said there's no reason to do an in depth search unless she suspects something. She did go thought the checklist which we passed with flying colors yay! The only thing we hadn't done was the front door knob. Apparently we needed to have one that opens from the inside even when it's lock just for fire safety. Somehow we had missed that oops. I'm not sure how. We went through that list a gazillion times Oh well at least its an easy fix.

The next step was creating our profile. She explained that she would take all the answers to our questions and what we had told her in the interviews and compile them into a 1-2 page summary of us for our adoption profile. She would then bring it to our 2nd and final home visit for us to approve.

During those 4 weeks she told us to get that new door knob and select 4 pictures to include in our profile. They wanted two of us together, one of the outside of our house and one of our kitty. The pictures we selected are all included on our pictures page of this blog.
4 weeks later she came back with her summary. There were a few things that we apparently hadn't explained to her very well. So those got rewarded, she approved our pictures and checked our door knob. Everything was good to go. She said as far as WACAP was concerned, we were approved foster to adopt parents!!!!! All we had to do now was wait for the state to approve all the paperwork.

So in the end our friends had it right. As long as you're prepared and honest, the home visit is really nothing to be scared of at all. It was a great experience. We came out on the other end feeling much more confident and like we had an ally and friend in our caseworker.



1 comment:

  1. Oh what a lovely end!

    And what a lovely kind explanation she interrupted your interview with. I love the insights you shared about your assumptions.
    YOu have a way of wording things that helps me see it both in your situation... and my totally different one that i could apply it in, too.