Unbelievably, our home study visits are all done. Our home study social worker was contracted from a private agency to work with us and after she writes up our profile, we won't be working with her any more. We will really miss her humour and enthusiasm and especially her prompt replies to any of our questions. We are now back to dealing with the government office swamp where questions are left to rot in inboxes. It's not the fault of the government social workers, I'm sure they are doing their best with what they have. It's just that after working with a cushy private agency, we've seen how smooth it can be!
Now, I promised some tips. Here are the two most important from my perspective:
Tip # 1
Have your relationship all figured out and be on the same page with everything.
We have a great marriage (yeah, I went there). We talk about everything and can't keep secrets from each other (even birthday presents). This may make us sound annoying but it was great for the home study. We never had to "do home work" because we are already very comfortable with each others needs and values. There wasn't a questions that we weren't prepared to answer. So tip number one is to talk with your spouse about everything in the world before you start the home study. It's worth it because you get to hear praise on how solid and awesome your relationship is which feels pretty great.
Tip # 2
Background: When I was 18 I was diagnosed with OCD (with a specific phobia of vomiting) and anxiety disorder. The OCD started off mild but got to the point that it was affecting my work and social life. I went to the doctor and asked to be referred to a specialist. I went once a week to a psychiatrist for about a year and learned a lot about my brain and how it had been affected by trauma and anxiety. I worked really hard and haven't needed psychiatric care ever since. My OCD 'symptoms' have been gone for years and if they were to ever pop up again, I know how to recognise them and seek help.
My doctor recommended that I not disclose this on my adoption application. He thought that I was in good mental health now and was worried about red tape. I convinced him that I wanted to be honest about my past and was not worried or embarrassed by it. I naively thought that having dealt with anxiety myself, it might make me a good candidate for parenting an anxious child.
The government workers contacted my psychiatrist (who I have not seen in about 7 years). Dr. C said that I when I left I was doing well but she couldn't attest to my current mental health because it has been so long since I saw her last. I must now have a written assessment completed for the sum of $175. This is not covered by healthcare or my extended medical. Even though my doctor has already signed off on my current health and our home study worker assessed me and has recommended that it is not necessary as I am stable, mature and self-aware they still want a letter from the psychiatrist I saw 7 years ago.
Moral of this story? I still believe in honesty. So my advice would be to call up any old specialists and ask them about assessments etc and get these done before the home study. Right now our profile is in limbo while the social workers figure out whether my potential crazy is worth a $175 signature on a piece of paper.