Thursday, March 12, 2009

Homestudy Update~NO! Homestudy DO OVER!

We have some adoption news, not the best, but thankfully we have turned it around, and hopefully this does not affect any other families. I wanted to give a heads up, just in case anyone else is using this agency for a social worker. Now that I've panicked, cried and calmed down, this is long, (sorry about that), but here goes.....

We are waiting for a referral, it has been 48 weeks, or 11 months since we were added to the "Wait List", officially Pregnant on Paper. Our placing (adoption) agency sent an email a few weeks ago, saying it was time to get the home study updated. Figured this was coming because of the extended wait time. No problem. Started calling the social worker. After 6+ messages and several emails, over about two weeks time, I still hadn't gotten any reply, in any form. Worry, panic and a few other emotions started to creep in. I left every possible phone number, and email address I have and still NOTHING! What could be going on ??? Was she on vacation, were her kids sick?? No answer was more stress being added to the existing stressful & bad week I was mom was admitted to the hospital again (emphysema & pneumonia), dealing with the doctors and family updates for her, then two lengthy and involved projects due (a day apart) for the kids, and to make it even more fun, the construction company I work for started to remodel the office, with no place quiet to hide, talk or make calls. I just wanted the SW to call me back and something to go as planned. Nope. Nada. Zip. (heavy sigh)

Our social worker works from a satellite office in NJ but the main office is in Maryland. At the time we used them last year, she took every bit of SIX months to complete our homestudy. (no joke) Comparing other agencies this should have only taken about 6-8 weeks. When I was given this agency's name, I was "cautioned" to 'keep after her, she needs reminders'. This office worked with Taiwan and the placing agency, OK, great. Thought no problem, I work with accounts receivable for a living, so I'm always reminding some one to pay, I can do that. Boy, I had noooo idea how many reminders she needed until it was happening or not happening. So when we were asked to provide an update, I knew I'd better get after her, hoping this doesn't take a long time again. (note: she is a nice person but had outside issues to 'deal ' with that had nothing to do with our homestudy, at that time, once committed & paid, we were at her mercy) After no replies, and a stressful week, I kicked into collection mode and called their main office located in Maryland. I left at least three messages for their executive director. On the last message I think the overload & stress came out by telling them how unprofessional this organization was and I couldn't believe I haven't heard anything back. I also left a desperate, but stern message for the social worker in NJ. Good or bad, please just call me back!! The NJ SW finally called me back, two days after the mean message to the director, telling me she received a call from her boss (about my call). Finally, I thought, progress. The SW proceeded to tell me that she was laid off from her agency approx. 4 weeks ago, but she didn't get to finish or send a list of other agencies to help or to contact. She offered to do a "quickie update, shouldn't take but more than a couple of weeks" if I'd like. Translation, I'm thinking I'm looking at least a month for an update (based on last year).....I didn't think an update should take too long, swell, nothing changed. Here's the best part, then she explained that the main office has decided NOT to renew their license, expiring in June 2008, in NJ. Tears building fast........

So even if I accepted her offer, the homestudy wouldn't be valid for long, nor would she be able to do the post placements once we received a referral. All I wanted to do at this point was cry!!! Tears are coming big time.....So I hid in the conference room, closed the door and cried. Overload set in and it all caught up. About half an hour later, I washed my face, grabbed pen and pencil, and back to the conference room I headed. I called our adoption agency, explained the drama and asked the 'what now?' question. They were great, very supportive and helpful. Home Study DO OVER!

Now armed with the decision that it would be best to find another agency for the homestudy and post placements, and re-assured that we wouldn't loose any time with them for a referral, I made several calls. I couldn't trust this SW anymore and my gut was telling me to RUN! We decided to use Holt International, (the same agency we used for Adam & Emily's adoptions), and felt very good that they weren't going to be closing any time soon. Holt sent me documents to complete via email that afternoon and they were completed and returned ASAP. Don't you just love Fedex!! Our fingerprints (yes, we have to do them over too, they are non-transferable) are updated and submitted too. Hopefully the State of NJ doesn't get too concerned as to WHY we are in the system again and again ! :-) Holt didn't think that getting an update done in a few weeks was a problem, we plan to meet our new social worker, next week. My prayers were answered, Thank you God and Double Amen!!!

My first call to the unreliable SW was on February 16th and I only rec'd ONE return call from her and that was on March 5th. As of today I still haven't gotten a call back from the Executive Director (boss) in Maryland. I'm not expecting to at this point, probably because I put it out there due to overload or honesty. I am shocked that they do business like that. I would have gotten fired if I didn't follow up with my customers !! Who is the wonderful agency you ask (sorry for the sarcasm) ........We used World Child International Adoption, based in Maryland. I am not the kind of person to talk bad about anyone, but I felt that there maybe other families would want to know. An agency cutting back while you are waiting is a horrible thing to deal with. I hope that anyone who is currently using them has a better situation that we did. I cannot speak for everyone associated with this agency, but I feel better that we will not be using this office or SW in NJ.

Now that my tears have dried, my blood pressure has come back down, our new homestudy is underway, my mom is home, doing much better, and the kids projects both received A's, (Awesome job kids!!!) I can honestly say that I have the best husband and family.... they put up with my grumpiness and tears, helped with my mom and helped around the house so together we got through this tough couple of weeks. God answered my prayers by giving me strength and a great family!! I hope that I haven't upset anyone by posting this, because I try not to post anything negative, I guess it was an awareness and venting moment!

I am trying to be optimistic for a referral soon and for final rulings for some other waiting families, saying my prayers, crossing my fingers and toes for Good News Soon!!!

Thanks for listening :-)

PS - At work, the construction is still going strong, up to remodeling the bathrooms now, Dust is everywhere !
Ahhhh, Spring cleaning :-)


Cindy said...

Oh Terry - I am so happy you got all this straightened out. How frustrating!! Hope your home study update is completed soon. . .


Journey to our baby said...

Hi Terry, Good to hear that all of this seems to be all worked out now. Do we know each other? I see our blog on your list, are you with JOH?

Suzy :)

Krista said...

I am so sorry you have had to deal with this. What a nightmare. We are also in the process of updating our homestudy. We have been waiting almost 23 months for a referral and now everything has expired, so we are busy redoing it all. It's not fun, but hopefully we can all get good news soon.

Lisa said...

Oh Terry, I'm so sorry to hear of the stress you have been enduring. Cuz, gosh knows waiting and waiting for a miracle referral is not stressful and agonizing enough.(sigh)

My heart goes out to you and it sounds as if you handled it beautifully. I would have hid and cried too my friend!

AND most of all it sounds like you are in excellent competent hands now( shame on your old agency!!) and please do keep us posted on the progress.

Terry, has your agency given you a time estimation for referral? I know its mostly best guesses, but I hope you are drawing near to that estimated time!!!!

Also, so happy to hear that your Mom is back home once again.

Thinking of you....