The Home Study is a prerequisite for approval to adopt. It is a 4-step process: 1) interview of spouses together, 2) interview of spouses together again, 3) examine the home to ensure our environment is fit for children, and 4) interview of spouses individually. In the middle of all this, we’re also required to complete 8-10 hours of on-line training.
The first interview was more informational in nature — we had a chance to ask questions that were on our hearts and Bethany went over 20-some-odd things they needed to tell us. The interview took about 2 hours in total.
Some of the questions we had were “In raising our child, how do we honor their heritage and birth culture without overemphasizing it to the point that the message always is ‘You’re Ethiopian – you’re different’?” and “What kind of rude or inappropriate comments or questions can we anticipate people will make to us or our child and how do we respond when they do?”
Our social worker said the culture thing was a balance, depending on the child. She said it was important to honor and value the child’s birth culture because it is very much a part of the child and will help the child process the adoption in a healthy way. However, if the child starts indicating that s/he feels too much of Ethiopia is emphasized, then we should pull back according to their wishes. Basically, it is very important for us to integrate Ethiopian culture into our family life when the child is young, but the child should dictate how much we do so when s/he is older.
Regarding the questions, the social worker said it is hard to predict, but she advised that we have standard answers or strategies in mind for whenever a question comes up. Like a politician, we don’t have to answer questions directly. So for me, when people ask about our child, if possible I want to work in the gospel message in my response – since that’s the reason we’re adopting. I also want to emphasize the positive character attributes of our child, the uniqueness of our child, and how much we are blessed by the child (versus the child being blessed by us).
The social worker also mentioned something that I hadn’t thought of — we also need to think about how we will teach our child to handle inappropriate comments from other adults or children when we are not around. She pointed out that kids see all adults as being authorities in their lives, so if another adult says something inappropriate to our child about their adoption, then our child might not recognize that it is inappropriate but instead might think the comment is true.
Lots of things to think about –