Monday, December 26, 2011

Tis the Season . . . (For Home Inspections)

It’s been a busy couple of weeks and that’s not just because this time of year is crammed full of shopping, parties, programs, neighbor gifts, and Christmas cards.  It’s been a busy couple of weeks because three years ago this time of year our adoption homestudy with our private agency was approved.  I remember taking a deep breath after completing all of the mounds of paperwork and interviews and thinking “Now we can RELAX and enjoy the holidays!” 

However, three years later since we have not yet been fortunate enough to adopt, means, out of necessity, this is the time of year we must renew our home study- which also includes paying the annual renewal fee (as if December isn’t lacking in busy-ness or expenses)!
So . . .  not only did our adoption caseworker come to our home last week to do an annual health and safety inspection of our home and “check up” on us through an informal interview, but our licensor through foster care came the same week a few days later to do a walk-through inspection of our home so that we can be re-licensed for the coming year.  We usually wait till after the holidays for our foster care licensor to come as our license doesn’t expire till after the new year, but apparently a lot of people are being licensed or re-licensed [which is a good thing] so she’s been swamped with appointments and asked if we could do it a little earlier.
SAFETY is the top priority in these inspections so medications, firearms, cleaning supplies, and any alcohol must be locked up and out of children’s reach (Fortunately we don’t have any firearms or alcohol to worry about).  There must be working smoke detectors on each level of the home and safety gates must be at the top of each stairway in the home as long as there are children under five years of age, (even if, as with Rose’s case, they are not yet crawling).  We must also have a first-aid kit in our home as well as  one in the car.  A fire extinguisher is a must but it can’t be just any fire extinguisher- size and model are specified.  Those are the big requirements- there are a few others addressing the size and space of each child’s bedroom, too.
I understand the necessity for safety guidelines in the home of adoptive and foster parents, and smoke detectors and outlet covers are something we already use in our home- no big deal- but I totally stress out each year when our home inspections roll around because not only do I feel like our home is scrutinized for safety standards but I feel the need to take CLEANLINESS to a whole new level; hence, I want my home to look like a page out of Martha Stewart Living and I am overcome with the  overwhelming urge to thoroughly organize every single sock and underwear drawer in the entire house and alphabetize all of my spices.  Okay, so maybe that’s a slight exaggeration but only slight.  Yes, cleanliness is important in inspections, but there are no white glove inspections and the only drawers or cupboards which are opened are those in which medications or cleaning supplies are stored .  
Last week as our caseworker and then our licensor inspected our house and interviewed us I was a little annoyed/discouraged/overwhelmed and even humored at the thought that our family can’t have any children reside in our home without having the right size fire extinguisher!   I was equally humored by being casually asked by two different caseworkers within days of each other- as part of the required interview process- “Any marital problems over the past year?” to which part of me thought. Well, Dr. Phil,  let me tell you all the private details of our family life! 

Such is life as a foster and adoptive family.     

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