Personal History Booklets – check.
Police Vulnerability Sector Check – check.
Medical Report – check.
Financial Information – check.
Reference Questionnaires – check (x5)
PRIDE Training – check.
SAFE Homestudy – pending
SAFE stands for Structured Analysis Family Evaluation. On one website, it’s accurately described as a microscope. The goal is to obtain a thorough, accurate profile of our family in order to “arrive at a decision about the characteristics of the children most appropriate” for us (Adoption Council of Ontario).
I write this hours after our second SAFE homestudy visit. Our case worker is conducting face-to-face interviews with us which appear so far to be an expanded, deeper version of the personal history questionnaires we completed in early 2014. I remember having to take my time completing those last year, pausing for a couple of days sometimes before answering some questions. We were asked about our birth families, relationships with parents, experiences growing up, our marriage, parenting, lifestyle, and hopes for the adoption experience. Seems basic enough but I must admit that some of it felt like I was laying out my baggage and dirty laundry for all to see. And the same thing happens as we sit down in the living room and have to actually speak the words. I feel like we’re in therapy, I joked with our worker today.
Here’s the thing: if you have unresolved crap, you’re not ready. Like my oxygen-mask-on-you-first life policy suggests, if you are not at peace with your past and your life, you are no good to your spouse or your children, much less a child or children with extensive emotional or physical needs.
Ben went first, and as I sat beside him on the loveseat, listening to him recall his childhood, youth and his adversity very much in past tense, I felt his pain but heard in his voice the resiliency he developed over the years. As if it was possible, I loved him a little bit more than I already did. Perhaps now from the mother-side of my heart, so proud of him for how far he has come.
When it was my turn I didn’t anticipate struggling with some of the questions. But then she asked me what my mom was like.
I couldn’t remember.
She asked me to describe my relationship with her.
I stared at a spot on the wall above the piano, as if the answer might be written there.
Eventually I managed to get something out, but not before wishing I could kick everyone out of the house and start crying in the fetal position. And when I looked at Ben he gave me a small side-scooped smile that seemed to say I’m sorry, that sucked, didn’t it?
As pitiful as that moment was, I am grateful for it because it was an opportunity to reach back thirty years and un-blur the images I have of her and me with her, even if just by a little bit. It’s an exercise I need to be more intentional with.
I continue in the hot seat next week, since we ran out of time today to finish my story. We warned our case worker that mine would take a while, with 5 siblings, 3 parents, 2 turtle doves, a partridge in a pear tree and the fact that I could talk for days….miraculously, she hasn't run out of paper.