All week I’ve been getting ready for the social worker’s visit on Saturday…sort of. I’m afraid that even in this regard we’re seeing a little Second Child Syndrome. The first clue is that I knew it would take a week to do it, and that it would never get all the way clean. The second clue is that our standards of neatness and cleanliness are way lower than when we had the same visit for Zinashi. Waaaaaay lower.
After an adoption is completed, there are further visits from a social worker, in most cases the one who does the home study. The social worker writes a report detailing the child’s adjustment to placement, growth, health, etc. Depending on what type of adoption you complete (domestic, foster to adopt, international, etc.), the requirements vary. For us, adopting from Ethiopia, we must have a social worker write a three month, six month, and one year report, then self-report annually until the child is eighteen. Saturday’s visit will be for our first post placement report, which means that we’ve had Elvie home with us for nearly three months. It seems like it’s been longer than three months since we first stepped off the plane at SFO and made our way through immigration, but at the same time this three month mark sort of snuck up on us.
Because we’ve been through this before, it’s a lot less stressful than the first time. We weren’t at all worried about our home study this time, and we’ve sunk to new lows when it comes to our level of comfort with messes. I do plan on wiping up the scrambled eggs I spilled on the stove top and doing a quick look around the house for recently regurgitated cat hairballs, but beyond that, I’m just letting things go. Because what I know is that while I’d prefer things to be a bit (okay, a lot) neater and cleaner, what we’ve got going on is not harmful to our children, and in fact is the result of meeting our children’s needs before attending to trivial things like housework. (Yes, I just called housework trivial.) A little bit of mess won’t make her write an unfavorable report. I mean, we’ve at least cleaned up enough over the last week that it no longer looks like we’re in danger of being on one of those hoarding shows.
The post placement visit is really nothing to stress about, so if you are in the process of adopting, and especially if you have brought your child or children home and are incredibly stressed out about living up to that “excellent cleanliness standards” bit in your home study, just stop. If you are meeting your child’s needs well and are developing a loving attachment, then you’ve got nothing to worry about. This is really a time to show your social worker how your child is doing. It’s also a great time to ask any questions you may have about your child’s adjustment. If you are having trouble figuring out what normal family life at this stage looks like, your social worker can help. If you need help finding additional services, such as for play therapy or development assessments, the social worker can help you find those resources in your area. The social worker is writing a report to submit, but he or she is also there to help you.
As I look at my house today, I know there are some things I’d like to put in order before the social worker arrives, but they’re all things I’d do if we were just having friends over. This evening may be full of many interruptions, and if I don’t get it all done, that’s okay. I’m pretty sure the social worker will take one look at Elvie and forget about everything else. I mean, how could she not?