As part of the adoption process, the state of Maryland requires us to be foster parents for six months before we finalize and become Teddy’s legal parents. During those six months, the agency acts as Teddy’s legal guardian while making sure we’re adapting well to life with Teddy and he’s attaching to us. (If this is not happening, it’s much easier to remove a child from a foster family than an adoptive family.) To determine all is proceeding well, our social worker, E (who is wonderful, by the way, and super easy to talk to), the same one who completed our home study, visits us on three separate occasions. Now, these visits are no where near as nerve-wracking as the home study visits, when she was determining our readiness to be parents. But I still feel a little anxious when she’s coming over. I want everything to be perfect. I want her to be incredulous at how well Teddy is developing. I want her to express disbelief at how attached Teddy seems to be to us. I want her to declare that she’s never seen a more suitable placement. I want her to say we’re doing so well there’s no need to continue with the six-month waiting period–we should go ahead and finalize now.
None of that happens, of course. (Although she does note how energetically Teddy jumps in his exersaucer. He loves that thing and has been bouncing around in it since he was 2 1/2 months old.) But I’m getting ahead of myself. What follows is a peek inside my head before and during our second post-placement visit.
The afternoon has been a bit crazy and I don’t have time to make dinner, so I decide to pop a frozen meal into the oven for us to eat before E arrives…except Mike isn’t able to get out of work in time to eat before she gets here, so he’ll be scarfing his ready-made manicotti during the interview. Not only are we eating a frozen meal, but we’re eating it in front of her! Won’t that seem rude? I’ll offer her something to eat, but I know she won’t accept.
I think about where to set up Teddy and briefly consider hanging his doorway bouncer in the doorway of
the laundry room. But then I stop myself. There’s laundry detergent in here. Would it look bad to have my child bouncing around so closely to cleaning supplies?
To try to de-stress a bit–and because it goes well with manicotti and tomato sauce–I pour myself a glass of red wine. As I’m about to enjoy the first sip, I hesitate. Right, should I really be drinking when E comes over?! Oh well. It’s poured.
Mike arrives about two minutes before E does–not enough time to eat first. So while E settles on the couch, and I hold Teddy, Mike puts his bag down and digs in–but not before offering E a beer or glass of wine. I know he’s being polite, but really?! That can’t look good, offering our social worker an alcoholic drink! She declines, but doesn’t look perturbed. She accepts a refreshing glass of ice tea instead. I imagine it’s probably a rule not to drink on the job; I’m sure she doesn’t think less of us for having a relaxing drink after work.
Then the questions begin. How is Teddy? What’s he doing now? How’s he sleeping? Is he rolling over? All perfectly innocent questions when asked by anyone else. But they’re coming from E’s mouth; we know she’s listening for anything that could raises an alarm. Fortunately, I know Teddy is developmentally right on track, even ahead of his peers in some areas (the jumping, my word–our boy’s got hops!) So this part of the meeting doesn’t worry me. Also, Teddy is the easiest baby on the planet, so there’s no inconsolable fussing to freak me out and make me project concern onto E.
She asks how I’m adapting to life as a SAHM. I enthusiastically reply that I love it. I’m not trying to score points. I genuinely enjoy being home with Teddy. Then she asks what a typical day looks like. Hmm. What does a typical day look like? I have one of those mommy amnesia moments. Our days are quite busy. Busier than I expected, in fact. But sometimes, I get to the end of a day and can’t think how it went so quickly, can’t recall how we spent it. What should we be doing? How should my day look? Should it be structured? We should totally be going to the park every day. I should be playing stimulating educational games with Teddy. Is it ok to admit he plays quite happily in his exersaucer for large chunks of time? Should I tell her that Teddy’s so chill and can entertain himself so well that I can blog while he’s awake? I tell her we have a weekly lunch date with other SAHM friends, that I take him out in the BOB at least once a week. Getting outside and seeing other friends with kids–those are good things, right? Mike adds that I typically have one big errand to accomplish every day. But I’m not happy with my answer. I should be doing more…
E takes notes the whole time, which of course makes me crazy. Is she jotting just what we say, or is she adding analysis, too? Most importantly, is anything we’ve said a cause for concern?
In the end, I simply ask. She assures us we’re doing great, that she neither sees nor hears anything that worries her. She’ll put together a report for each visit but it’s essentially to check a box. Teddy’s clearly attaching to us, and vice versa.
As E packs up her things to leave, I finish my wine. All that worrying for nothing.