I want to do a little series as we move along the process; hopefully it will be helpful to those who might be looking for more information or who are overwhelmed with the amount of work involved in adoption.
So what is a homestudy? Basically it's the process through which adoptive parents go to be approved by the US government to adopt. An agency studies your home environment to make sure it's (and you're) suitable for raising children.
Step one is to find an adoption agency. If you've chosen international adoption, your agency may very well not be located in your state. Ours isn't. But your homestudy and post-placement visits must be carried out by an agency within your state. [this may get confusing, the whole two agencies thing. I will try to use "adoption agency" and "homestudy agency" for clarification.]
Keep in mind that your adoption agency may have extra requirements. There's this thing called the Hague Convention. A country is either part of it or not. This sounds like no bigs, but it is bigs. It's very bigs. Anyway, agencies have to undergo a process to become Hague accredited. And if your adoption agency is accredited, then your homestudy must be completed by an agency that is also Hague accredited, even if your country is not party to the Hague convention.
That was our deal: Nightlight (now A Helping Hand Adoption Agency: a Nightlight Affiliate) is Hague accredited, so we needed an homestudy agency who is also. The good news is that most adoption agencies will send you a list of homestudy agencies they know they can work with when they send you your big, wlecome-to-the-agency packet.
Unfortunately for us, it wasn't updated. So I did a bit of snooping and checked to see if we could do our homestudy through Generations Adoptions in Waco.
We were going to go with Lutheran Social Services of the South, but a couple of things changed our minds (which are only personal preferences). LSSS has its own training, which they do in one all-day seminar in either Houston, Austin, or Dallas. This would be difficult for us because Ezra's never been away from me that long, and we are still nursing. Generations has online training, which isn't covered in their homestudy fees, but we can complete it in a few sittings rather than one very full day.
Another thing was that LSSS charged an application fee and Generations didn't. Their fee for the actual homestudy is also slightly less. I know it's not necessarily good to go with the cheapest everything all the time, but let's face it: we already can't actually afford to adopt. The less we have to raise through fundraisers and grants, the easier on everyone.
I'm really happy with our decision. Everyone I've spoken with at Generations has been very helpful, prompt, and warm. And honestly, I'm not a businessperson; if everyone I talk to throughout my day speaks to me like we're going to be friends, I'm on cloud 9. Especially in unknown and overwhelming territory.
I'll do part 2 of this series after we have our home visit, March 27th!