The latest with the home study and the extinct agency

Since discovering that our home study agency was shut down by the state, we’ve been trying to get our file transferred.

Travis tracked down our former social worker at her new job, a social services agency that works with children in the foster care system. When she picked up the phone, she was rushed, flustered, and offered no apology. She said she “might” have our home study in her files at home, but that her “next few days would be busy.” We were to call her the next week if we hadn’t heard back.  She said she’d been abruptly fired last summer and given four hours to leave. But still. It’s hard to believe she didn’t feel responsible for informing us that she was no longer our social worker.

Meanwhile, the director of the old agency was not returning my calls. So, Travis naturally turned to Facebook, found her, and sent a message. She responded, telling him she didn’t have the files. We’d need to contact the social worker.

The social worker only partially came through. She sent the new agency a copy of our home study but said she was missing all the supplemental paperwork—the fire inspection report, the numerous background checks, the medical forms, the confirmation of insurance, etc.

I called our contact at the state agency to see if she had any other suggestions on how to compel the former director to transfer the entire file, assuming she has it. This time the woman at the state office seemed impatient, interrupting to ask, “Why don’t you just get a new home study?”

I wanted to ask, “Why don’t you not be an asshole? And why don’t you do a better job of making sure agencies that you close actually follow your protocol and inform their clients?”

Instead I asked, “Is there no other recourse for us?”

“The only thing I have the power to do is shut them down, and that’s what I did. And under state law, the former director can’t open a new agency for at least three years.”

Only three years! In three years, that woman could open a new agency and people like us, searching for a home study agency would have no idea about this woman’s professional past. Once this ordeal is over, I am tempted to put her name and the name of the former agency on this blog so Googlers from the future have at least some chance of knowing her background.

It’s not clear yet whether the new agency has enough information to accept us as a transfer, or whether they’ll have to update our home study. I’m waiting to get the final word.

Our original Ohio home study cost nearly $2,000 and was supposed to be valid for two years—until late this spring. If we are told we must start over, we’re going to have to make a choice whether to keep going. Travis is a professor and will be on leave as he finishes his book from May 2012 through January 2013. Our plan is to temporarily relocate, possibly out of state or to a city nearby—somewhere Miles can be exposed to greater diversity. If we somehow find the money for a new home study, it would only be valid for a few months anyway. I’m not sure what we’ll do. I really wanted the remaining six months to keep trying to adopt.

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10 thoughts on “The latest with the home study and the extinct agency

  1. Ugh, Josh, that sounds SO frustrating. If you had to get a new home study anyway, could it be a “fresh” one with the usual 2-year expiration date? Seems like that’s the least they can do. Not that bureaucracies normally come forward with decent, human solutions… but sometimes. I am rooting for you guys (as always)!

    Also, why would you NOT publish the name of the ex-director on the blog, and anywhere else you can? If there’s any chance she’s hoping to open a new agency, you should do what you can to save others from her. Right?

    • Hey Daniel – Yep, we could get a new home study. And that’s what we’d do, no question, except for the fact of us temporarily relocating next spring. When you change address, especially moving out of state, the home study is no longer valid. So if we pay for a new one now, it’d be valid for only five or six months. Then we’d need to get a new one after we move. I had really seen this two-year period–the supposed duration of the home study–as our window to try for a second infant adoption. So now it’s just feeling like that time and that chance might be cut short, and that’s pretty sad to me.

      I am pretty sure I will publish the name of the director and agency. I think you’re right: we have an obligation to do so for the sake of whoever comes next. I just want to make sure we’re officially done with her and don’t need anything else from her before doing so. I’m also seriously considering filing a small claims against her–not because of the money (I’m guessing we’d never see it) but to hold her accountable in the only other way I can.

  2. Ah, I see, the moving will cut short the utility of the home study, not the old study’s expiration date. So frustrating! And I vote yes to the small claims court thing, too. It’s terrible. The whole home study thing seems like such a racket…

    I would like to humbly suggest Oakland for Travis’ leave “somewhere else.” Diversity: Check. Awesome weather: Check. Plenty of great people: Check.

  3. Oh, Josh. This is so sad. Frustrating, too. Infuriating even. But mostly just sad. When I think about this kind of bullshit derailing an incredible adoptive family like yours, everything feels so hopeless. I mean, it’s just not about fairness or justice at all, is it? If you and Travis decided to stop trying on your own accord, that would make sense; that would be your choice. But it shouldn’t come down to this: to horribly unethical practices on top of an already bureaucratic system. I feel like you (and a potential baby, and a potential birth mom) are just being robbed. I hope you find some peaceful way through this. Some path back to your own choices. I’m sorry this is happening to you.

    • The way you frame it makes me feel like trying all over again. This has to be about our choice, not inept people we barely know. So thanks.

  4. I’ve just come across your blog and I can’t believe what you’re going through with your homestudy. That’s utterly horrible. And I cannot believe that there’s no accountability or recourse. I hope that somehow, it will all work out for you.

  5. Pingback: Adventures in reading gay, #6 – deja vu at the bank | Regular Midwesterners

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