If you are considering, or are in the process of adopting through the child welfare system, dealing with Social Services will become a way of life for you.  Like the IRS, we are accountable to these authorities, and just the thought of talking to them can be worrisome, even frightening!

It is important to remember that these folks can be just as suspicious of, and intimidated by, prospective parents.  Let’s reframe the whole process from their standpoint. 

 

  1. They are in the business of caring for and protecting kids who have already been through neglect, abuse, and worse, and want to find an appropriate, safe, forever placement for these kids. 
  2. They deal with a lot of really ‘loser’ people, and like a cop who pulls over a speeder, they never know if the person they encounter will be friend or foe. 
  3. They are overworked, underpaid, jaded by the system, and yet, usually, want to do the right thing. 
  4. They are sinners just like us, and can make mistakes.  They need forgiveness and mercy just like we do.
  5. Social service workers usually have their heart in the right place, but have a duty to the system they work for.

Keeping that in mind, it behooves Christians to reach out to social service workers in love.  What better place than in our own home do we have the opportunity to welcome strangers and show them the love of Christ flowing  deeply, freely, and unconditionally?  Why not look at home visits, and filling out the lengthy accompanying paperwork, as an opportunity to show who we really are:  people who want to change the world one child at a time, and do it simply to honor Christ?

During the adoption process of our five children (two sets of siblings) which spanned a 6 year time period, we had several different caseworkers come to our home for initial, and subsequent placement visits which were once a month for six months at a time, twice.  Here are some things we did to insure successful home visits:

  • remained optimistic and relaxed so our children would sense this and remain the same
  • talked with our kids beforehand about what to expect
  • told our kids to be truthful when they were questioned, whether with us or separately
  • tidied and organized each room of the whole house, and the yard
  • straightened the bookshelves and stocked the pantry
  • put on our best – bathed, fixed hair, trimmed nails, and put on ‘going to town’ clothes
  • set visit times to start at mid-morning so case worker could see kids doing home school work upon arrival
  • baked treats beforehand so the house smelled good when they entered, then served refreshments
  • showed off each room of the house and toured the property
  • took long walks for fresh air and ample discussion time
  • enjoyed one fun activity such as playing baseball or soccer, horseback riding, or playing in the yard on the swing set and trampoline 
  • relaxed in the living room, then moved to the kitchen answering a battery of questions
  • My husband and I also made sure we were very truthful; we were able to share our about our life experiences and background (good and bad), our marriage relationship, our philosophy of parenting including the nuts and bolts of  discipling, disciplining, nurturing, loving, and educating our children at home.

We were caring, friendly, generous, helpful, honest, open, relaxed, and warm.  We were able to express that we weren’t perfect, but we cared and wanted to do the right thing for the orphans of this world.  We also showed a submissive spirit and willingness to be accountable to social services through the process of adoption.  In essence, we were just our humble selves.

Each visit went well, in fact, great!  We enjoyed meeting and getting to know our caseworkers, and they likewise, us.  I remember jokingly telling our first home study case worker that ‘on paper’ we might be her worst nightmare:  ‘conservative Christians, home schoolers,  a bunch of kids already, live in the middle of nowhere, have firearms and know how to use them!’  She laughed, and said thanks for letting her know up-front.  We also had the chance to share with her how much we loved kids, the basics of our daily schedule, our plan to accomplish all that we do, and our desire to adopt kids who were hard to place (siblings, older,  multi-racial, developmental delays).  After interviewing our kids separately, she said her biggest concern was that “adopting kids might ruin the wonderful family we already had”.

Dealing with Social Services can be disconcerting – a Christ-like attitude and thoughtful planning will help insure success.

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