The adoption paperwork is done. Our home visit with the social worker happens next week. This process has been emotionally grueling.
We each completed a 128-question questionnaire (most of them essay questions) on everything you can imagine. Tell us about your childhood. Tell us about your parenting styles. How did your mom show love? How about your dad? Tell us about any childhood traumas. Tell us about any adult traumas. Any mental health / alcohol / addiction / violence in your childhood home? Tell us about it. How did it affect you? How did you cope? Tell us about your health issues. Are you over your infertility grief? How do you feel about open adoptions? How do you feel about birth parents who may have harmed their children? Have you ever had counseling? If so, for what, and what was the outcome? How do you deal with stress? Anger? Sadness? How is your sex life? No really, we want to know about your sex life. How about religion? When would you consider leaving your spouse?
And on and on it goes.
Medical exams, extensive bloodwork to test for all the possible drugs we might be on, fingerprints, criminal background checks. Detailed financial disclosures. Recommendations from five friends who are willing to answer a series of lengthy questions about us – how they know us, how strong our marriage is, how we are with kids, whether our house is clean/safe, whether we are stable human beings.
Multiple hours-long interviews with the social worker, who then sent us back to marriage counseling for a quick tune-up and a letter from the counselor attesting to our … I don’t know what … fitness as a couple? So back we went for a few months, and, wonder of all wonders, we "graduated." We are officially a healthy-ish couple and we may now go forth and do what we've been doing non-stop for the past 7+years: We can parent.
Look. I’m a lawyer. I get it. They have to make sure they’re not handing a kid to someone who will screw them up worse than they already have been screwed up by their families and the foster care system. They want to make sure that a kid’s issues don’t trigger an adoptive parent’s issues. They want to make sure we have the skills and the background to deal sanely with whatever may come our way. They want to find the best parents for that one special kid. It’s not about us at all. It’s about finding the best family for that child. It makes perfect sense.
I’ve said this before, but I’m gonna say it again here: If all parents had to go through what adoptive parents have to go through before they can become parents, there would be very very few children born in this country, and all of those children would be wanted children. Desperately, deeply wanted kids; much-loved, much-longed-for kids; and their parents would walk over hot coals for them.
And still. A few broken parents would sneak through the cracks. And some children would suffer.
Perfection is not possible in this endeavor. Frustration, though – phew. We’ve got that in buckets. Now we just have to buy a giant-size fire extinguisher, because some bureaucrat decided that foster families need the really big ones.