We had our second home study meeting with our social worker this week. She split us up and spent about an hour with each of us (Kristi and I, not the kids). This one went a little bit deeper.
We thought this was going to be the session on marriage, but it was actually about ourselves. It was another chance to look back on our lives, but zoomed in much closer this time.
It was a good chance to think hard about how your past shapes the kind of person, and the kind of parent, you are. What is your relationship with each of your parents? What was it like when you were a child? How about with each of your siblings? What was school like? Your social circles then and now? What were the defining events of your life? (moving away to California for me, Kristi’s brother passing away for her) What was your parents’ relationship like? What about their parenting? What about their discipline?
It will be interesting to see how she writes this up in the home study report. There are certain questions that got me stuttering and defering to my answers in the written exercises we had to do. Like: what’s your personality like?
Others got me telling stories … of homeschooling in junior high … of playing out in the woods … of my parents salvation experience and the church culture that so influenced our lives … about the dynamics of my relationships with my sisters when we were young and how much age and birth order has played into it.
It’s hard to define yourself conceptually without all the context, the history, the stories that make you up. And of course this plays into adopting a child because you are abruptly pulling a lot of that history, context, stories, and even relationships, away. Even a newborn loses a lot and has to deal with bouts of grief and loss throughout her life.
My dad asked me whether I thought it was worth it going through this whole process to adopt. He asked what was the alternative for these kids and why they have to make it so long, hard and expensive for adoptive parents.
A lot of people have asked this question, but it’s really two questions. Yes, I think this process is worth it for Kristi and I. We are learning about what we are taking on, which is much bigger than we could’ve imagined. We are developing understanding and tools for the future. We are investing ourselves through this process as a commitment to our future daughter. And we are building networks for how we deal with potential provlems down the road.
The second question I don’t have an answer to yet. I know this work is important to avoid child trafficking and ensure that adoptive parents are prepared and supported for new challenges that are very different from those with biological children. But it’s true, the alternative for many of these children is not bright. So should the bar be lowered to encourage more adoption? It would help some and hurt some, and I don’t know if the good would outweigh the bad.
For now, we embrace this process and use it as our “pregnancy” stage of preparation – more preparation than we had for our own kids, but with new things to learn and understand.