In order to adopt, you must submit to a home study by a licensed social worker. The process varies by state but typically involves one or more visits by a social worker who interviews prospective foster or adoptive parents and inspects the home to make sure it’s safe and clean.
Both times we’ve been through it, the social worker kicked off the process with a long checklist of documents that needed to be filled out, obtained, or processed by a third party. We’ve had to come up with a full account of our finances, a home brew fire escape map, autobiographical statements responding to questions about our upbringing and ideas about parenting, and reference letters from friends and employers.
There are also a variety of background checks (many with fees) that plumb federal FBI, state child welfare, and local law enforcement databases for any sign that we might be bad parents.
As with many of the steps necessary to complete the home study, it’s not a simple matter of filling out a form and handing it to the social worker. Nope, you have to go in person to the local law enforcement office, schedule an appointment ahead of time and then pay with a cashier’s check.
Several months ago, when we started the process of trying to adopt again, I figured out which two hours a day the local sheriff and police department were open for background checks and made my appointment. Then I went to the bank to see about this thing called a cashier’s check.
“Hi, I’m here to get something called a cashier’s check. Is that something I can get through this bank?”
“Yes, but there may be a fee.”
“Okay, how do I know if there is a fee?”
“If you have a SelectStandard account with us, it’s free. But there may be a fee if you have a StandardSelect account.” (I made up those names, but they were something like that, I swear.)
She looked up my account, which is a joint account in my name and my partner’s name, and announced there would be no fee.
“Who should the check be made payable to?” she asked.
“The Sheriff’s office. I need to have one made out in my name and one made out in my partner’s name.”
“Oh! The Sheriff’s office. Are you and your wife getting your concealed carry permits?” She positively beamed with enthusiasm about this prospect.
It took me a second to understand what she was talking about. Something wasn’t processing right in my brain–or hers. (Wife? Is she mistaking me for someone else? Concealed carry?). Then I remembered that concealed carry actually means “hidden gun.” (That’s right, gun rights crazies, you can’t fool me!) Ohio, like most states, allows people to carry guns around in many public places, hidden somewhere on their bodies.
It was one of those split seconds when you have to decide whether to just nod and say, “Yeah.” Or try to be honest without brutally ripping open the banality of small talk at the bank counter.
“Um. Oh… No. My partner and I need to pay for background checks because we are trying to adopt a baby.”
“Oh…okay.” Her expression was somewhere between neutral and confused.