Expectant Mother – Adoption Journey Series…
On the very same day that I submitted my Questionnaire, I sent a follow up email to ensure Theresa received it.
Subject: Questionnaire complete
I dropped off my questionnaire for you today.
Please let me know if you have any questions, or need any clarification. Sorry about all of the “extra columns” and additional notes/comments…hope that’s OK… I like to play outside of the lines a little!
It feels a little vulnerable to have filled that in and submitted it. Actually I can only imagine what picture forms from reading it… I don’t feel uncomfortable about any of it myself, but from the outside looking in I realise it can appear “difficult”.
I’ll look forward to hearing from you, and look forward to the “next step” when it is ready to go ahead.
Theresa responded the same day and I appreciate that about her so much, she never left me hanging.
I have reviewed the questionnaire already; most people definitely feel as you do; it’s a very vulnerable state to be in; someone looking at your past and seeing its role in your present and future. I have been through the process myself so I fully understand.
Believe me, there was nothing shocking.
So, next step is to start the home study process.
I would suggest meeting at your place some day after work or a day off; I can be flexible.
Thinking maybe 1-1/5 hours…just as a guideline.
I was glad that there was nothing shocking in my questionnaire, and that she let me know she’d been through the process herself. That was helpful in allowing me to relax and have faith that she would not judge me because I had a sometimes unstable upbringing.
This was good news.
“Nothing shocking.” Also good.
I personally feel that everything in my past, both seemingly “good” and “bad”, has made me the amazing person I am today, and without those experiences I might not be as enlightened, or as interesting, or as compassionate, or as forgiving, or as open to understanding and accepting others, or as loving.
And perhaps most importantly I may not have known myself as well as I do. I am so thankful that I’ve spent as much time as I have understanding me, it is a lifelong love affair and I plan to continue for the rest of my days! A process that may not have occurred if I’d had a perfect upbringing.
I feel grateful that as an adoptive parent – I have first-hand skills at teaching a child to turn their past into an asset in their now, to turn those experiences into the opportunity to grow through those experiences and to know themselves better.
I feel very positive about my past and how it’s shaped me into the person I am today and I feel very grateful for all that I’ve learned to date and all I continue to learn.
If Theresa truly understands this, then I won’t have to explain as much, and that is a relief. While I’m an excellent writer (), in person, I’m not the best linguist and would hate to be misunderstood.
We went on to discuss times and dates, back and forth over the next few days, and settled on a date two days from the email about it.
To say I was nervous would be an understatement! I had no idea what to expect, so I asked:
How does the home study work? Do you have a list of questions, guided discussions, topics you want to cover? Will you give me a list of things you’d like to discuss? Or is this more informal than that? Is it like a counselling session, will you take notes and say “mmmhmmm, very interesting, and how did that make you feel?”…
No leather lounge seat in sight. It is super casual, informal. We will go over the answers of the first questionnaire and remember; no right or wrong answers!!!
She had told me many times already that the Ministry needs parents with a good understanding of what these kids have been through, and the best understanding is experience.
I reminded myself “you can’t fail this.”
Then I got online and Googled “first home study” to see what advice others could provide.
All of them mentioned it was “kind of like a therapy session” in the sense that you “get to talk about yourself for an hour or so,” which most topped off with, “so enjoy!” The threads I read all said that they too had been told that the Ministry wasn’t looking for a perfect parent, more a parent who would understand their kids.
Well then, I believe I am one of the best candidates there is!
Some suggested baking cookies, and ensuring refreshments were served. I’m not much of a baker, but I did manage a seasonal fruit platter and some cold cranberry and soda drinks! (it was early summer).
When she arrived we got right down to it, and I was thankful for that.
She had my questionnaire out and had highlighted things to discuss, and made notes on her copy, and away we went.
Note: I am going to cheat now and paste some excerpts (truly this is not the full email!) from the email I wrote to my friends directly after the first home study.
Subject: My first home study…
Today was the first home study with Theresa – my adoption social worker. Fascinating stuff. Truly.
She had highlighted several things on my adoption Questionnaire to discuss. I had taken the time to draw my own columns on the form where needed to give “timeframes” like 0-5 this happened, 5-8 this happened, and 8-16 this happened. One question that asked about my mother’s relationships with her partners I’d listed 0-5 and 8-16 and she asked me what happened between 5 and 8? It was just my mom and I; no external relationships.
We talked about my marriage first, she wanted to get that out of the way because we’d touched on it at the meeting in her office and she felt it wasn’t as important as my childhood. She called it an abusive relationship. I didn’t disagree with her, but I don’t fully agree either. It wasn’t my ideal relationship and I definitely wanted out of it for a long time, but my fears about leaving were my own. I don’t like to place blame, without that relationship many wonderful things would not have happened, and I might not be sitting right here in Canada writing about becoming an adoptive parent! I am grateful.
She also called my childhood abusive. And was a bit hard on my step-dad even though he was the most amazing man in the world in my mind, and the perfect specimen of man and father… she asked me why he didn’t pursue a relationship with me after I was kicked out of home.
My answer: My mother.
She made everyone’s life crazy and to associate with anything that she touched (including me) was often repellant to people. She didn’t agree fully (although I gave her a few examples and she started to see…).
She told me that – even still – I was a child, the child, his step-child, and he abandoned me. Well, I didn’t disagree that was hard on me sometimes, but I didn’t really agree either – and perhaps that’s because I’m so grateful that he didn’t stay in my life, I may have ended up like my step-siblings did and I’m so thankful that I got out when I did. If he’d pursued a relationship with me, I might have felt obligated to stay close to home.
She said that as a “child” I had a right to have a family who stuck with me past the age of 18, and who are present in my now.
Okay, so that nearly made me burst into childish tears when she said it, and even repeating it now it makes me feel sad. It’s true. I did/do deserve that.
She was surprised that there is no one, friends or family, still present in my now from my childhood. None of my blood family tried to pursue a relationship with me. Even my Aunts who I finally felt were in my life again for good as of a few years ago, both just stopped communicating this year (again because of my mother… it just becomes too complex).
She did appreciate that as an adult I kept in contact with those people who were family after 18 – like my ex-husband’s sister and mom, though not my ex himself as of 7 years ago and she agreed that was a good choice. And that I’ve formed relationships with friends that is family-like and forever.
She agreed that shows I am capable of creating a forever family.
“Plus,” I said, “I’m ready now.”
What makes you ready? She asked.
I told her “I can feel it, I can see myself as a parent now, I can see and feel myself in that role – I am ready to create a family and be with them forever. I told her that I am also aware that because of my life so far, I will need those kids as much as they need me.”
She told me she was happy I was aware of that because she was going to suggest it to me.
I also told her I want to use this year ahead, this “pregnancy” time, to become a clean slate, to come to those kids as best as I can a clear, clean, safe, loving parent. One who is ready to be open to loving them in such a way that is not only forever in words, but that they feel from me that I will be there with them forever and to really mean it. I want to feel that commitment within myself and I want to shed all that “guff” from my own childhood so that I can be with and for them not try to live through them.
We talked a lot about all sorts of things. My mother featured quite significantly and there is too much to share right now!
She even shared some of her history with me, and commented that our backgrounds are similar. That was nice to hear and feel like she might understand without so many words on my part.
She said it is “odd” but not “bad” that there was literally no one from my huge family (especially my dad’s side) that stayed in my life. She said that that is common in the kids who stay in the foster care system, but she hadn’t met anyone not from foster care with a situation such as mine. Interesting.
Honestly, because I had a family for those formative years with my step-dad and siblings, I have never thought too much about the longevity (or lack) of it. I was just grateful to have experienced it at all!
Sometimes I do feel that lack of a parent to call up, or an aunt or uncle or sibling – or a husband/life-partner – a family member you know will always be there. But I’ve always just accepted that that is how it is for me. I’ve always returned to that feeling of gratitude for having lived the good times at all.
She felt that will make me an especially good parent to a teen or tween who has been moved around a lot. Oh and she told me that 2 or 3 children is not only possible but probable!! I explained to her that I feel that two or three would be less intimidating for me as a single mother than one alone. She agreed, and said if she was adopting herself after all she’s seen and been through, she would adopt a minimum of two also.
I’m glad she agrees with me on that, because I really do want two or three rather than one. I was an only child for a while, and it was not so much fun. Having siblings was way, way, way better. Of course my mother was not the greatest example of a one on one relationship, but still one alone does make me feel more nervous than two or three.
I feel really good about this process so far, and I’m starting to paint a picture in my mind of the kind of mom I feel I can be…
I can feel it in my heart too, and that’s an amazing place to be – after all of this time.
And maybe you don’t have to “feel ready” to have kids, goodness knows enough people have whoopsies! But it feels nice to feel this way now too preemptively, to feel myself blossoming inside, to feel the fears peel away one by one, and to feel the love and desire blooming. To imagine what I want to be and feel myself taking another step toward it, and another step, and another step – like today’s meeting… another step. It’s beautiful and I’m so thankful I get to live this moment.
Can you believe I’m doing this?
I feel so really proud of myself for coming all this way and feeling ready now. It’s saying so much, it’s huge. HUGE.
I feel that I am going to be a mom, a wonderful mom, and I feel ready to be one. Isn’t that wild?! It is truly an amazing thing. Something I wanted to feel, but this is the first time I’m “realising” that this is my future – if I want it, this is my absolute inevitable future. No fear that someone will take it away.
I trust Theresa when she says that I can’t fail this. I can’t fail this.
If I want to be a mom, I will be a mom. If I want to have and create a family, I will have a family, at the end of this process, I will have one – for better or worse, for the rest of our lives.
I have never known that as a certainty in my life before. It brings instant tears to my eyes and love (and huge gulps of hope) to my heart.
I’ve always known that people come and go, accepted it even, acknowledged that any day now that person that I love might disappear and never come back. Even if they’re blood related, it’s not only possible but probable that they will disappear eventually.
This adoption process has already saved my life in so many ways. And I’m better for it, no matter what else happens.
Of course, I just told myself that I may find my kids don’t feel the same way and choose to leave as soon as they turn 18 and never look back. I hadn’t really considered that as a possibility – and I’m not going to again, because I’m not going to be my mom, I’m going to be more like Erin, Jemma & Sam’s mom! Who are healthy well-adjusted kids who even when they leave home still want to be deeply connected and involved with their mom.
So that’s the run down.
Sorry this was so long. Oh my goodness what a day. What a life!
I’m going to be a mom! Wow. That is truly an amazing and astonishing feeling for me. I’m so grateful.
Warm smiles and Love,
All in all, the First Home Study left me feeling hopeful, excited, energized, and once again like I am on the right path with adoption – and that it is the right path for me. The feeling inside of my heart that grows stronger by the day is that I am meant to be an adoptive mom.
I can’t wait to meet my kids when we are all ready to come together, I imagine what they will feel like and hope that my daydreams will touch them and fill their own hearts with the hope that sometime – soon – they will get to meet the mom they’ve been day-dreaming about too.
Warm smiles and Love,
Ali Jayne 🙂