Wednesday, July 4, 2012

What A Homestudy Could Reveal

So there had to be something that brought me out of the land of life and back into the writings of the adoption triad, right? Yes and no. I have many musings in the waiting, but then this topic came along and it just rubbed me the wrong way. When I am rubbed the wrong way, it usually results in a post that unleashes the inner birth mother. Lucky you for coming to read ....

The topic stems from a question a hopeful adoptive parent asked on a forum. She asked if it was normal for the birth mother to ask for the home study. She then went on to ask if it was alright to deny the information from the prospective mother. She then put the cherry on top by saying that was a lot of information to give to her, much less anybody.

Oh there are far too many things wrong with this one for me. Let me start by saying this: in the two adoptions that I went through, not once was the home study of the parents offered to me for viewing. I knew that they existed because I read about them in the papers upon papers that I read during the process. What was offered to me were stacks of papers that I had to fill out for everyone to read. The attorneys. The Social Workers. The Doctors. The Ultrasound Guy. The Agency (Missouri only). The State. The Judge. The Typist. Lord knows just how many people MAY have read the information that I had to provide. And with every paper I filled out, there was a disclaimer that if I provided wrongful information I could be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Um .... okay.

I sat in interview after interview, retelling my reasons, my story, my life to many people. All in an attempt to do what I thought was best for my child. Sure, I knew some information about my families ... my daughter's family more than most .... but not to the extent that they would be reading about me. I filled out information about medical, mental, personal, business, education, life style ... you name it and I answered it. I remember in the first adoption there was actually a question about how I felt about abortion. Really?

Do you see my point lady with the questions? Do you understand that there is an awful lot of information that YOU would require to have on the person who is birthing your child, but you don't see the justification for her to have the same information about you? To purposely withhold that information from the mother is not a very good way to set the tone for future communication. I believe you need to understand that this decision for a mother is not easy, most of the time it is not welcomed and it comes at a time when a woman is quite vulnerable to anything and everything. (and I make that statement from my own personal experiences, not speaking for all birth mothers out there.)

I was okay with the first two questions because they seemed normal. But when I read "that was a lot of information to give to her, much less anybody", that is what really annoyed me. Hey! She is not just anybody. She is a woman, a mother who is trying her best to make the RIGHT decision for her child. You may just see her as a girl in trouble, a nobody that you would think differently of if standing behind her in a grocery line. She is not that young lady. She is someone who is strong enough to ask for help at a time when many would not, could not.

Stop being so selfish, keep in mind that what you are gaining in life will be forever a hurt for another woman, another mother. Maybe having more information than is needed could bring her some comfort. Maybe she could identify with you on a level you never thought of because she read something in your file, something that she connected with. Don't be scared of her, embrace that she wants to know more about you, about how you live, about how her child will live. It might seem intrusive to you, but it could mean the world to her.

It seems to me that too often birth parents are seen as people just looking for a reason to not choose a prospective parents. That is not the case at all. Birth parents are choosing not for themselves, but for their children. Please keep that in mind.


Denise said...

Of all the people who get to see the homestudy, I think the birthmother should have first right to it. It is her child she is placing, and any adoptive family who is honest and doesn't have anything to hide should value that their prospective child will be coming from a mother who loves her child that much. I do think such information sharing should be reserved for a very serious match - not necessarily revealed to any mother looking at multiple profiles. There is a lot of private information in there!

TTABaby said...

So after reading your post I thought... would I share our homestudy? I looked back at our homestudy because its been over two years since I looked at it. Our adoption is not fully open so I feel there would be specific details that would need to be blacked out (similar to our birthmoms last name/address/social security # was blacked out on her paper work). Other then that I think I'd be fine sharing our homestudy. We used our application as a jumping off point for our profile so there isn't much in our homestudy that is not in our profile except specifics (i.e. the name of our employer, last name, address, etc) I think I would have initially been scared had a birthmother asked however in logically thinking about the request (since I have the benefit of my emotions not being involved) - there really isn't a reason not to if identifying information could be blacked out.

I enjoy your blog and I also enjoy when you write about topics that "rub you the wrong way." I enjoy reading many birthmother blogs because it continues to challenge me. I'm by no means perfect and have digressed in my thinking at times but I feel I often come to my senses once the emotions pass. So thank you!!

Julia - Finding My Way Softly said...


I wish I could reach out an give you a huge hug. I haven't been a birth parent or adoptive parent, but as the aunt of several adopted children, I have am in awe of you and how articulate about your choices, and the positive and negative sides of your experiences. I know I lurked for a while, but I wanted to be able to understand you a little better before telling you that I think you are wonderful, and even more, I think that you are smart, funny, intelligent and a woman I would be proud to call my friend.

I was thinking about you today, as I had my children with me for 4th of July. Custody issues that seem to take more energy than having my children make it so that sometimes I with I didn't love my children so much, that I didn't have to fight for what they need, against an ex and a system that seems so uncaring. It seems that often birth mothers fight a similar fight, because they want to do what is right, not what is easy.

Julia - Finding My Way Softly said...

My nieces and nephew all have open adoptions, and see their borth mothers, and in one case birth father, at least a few times a year. One birth mother goes with my sister's family on a vacation every year. We feel like she is part of our extended family. Another one of the birth mothers has not only become "one of us" but her whole family has been adopted by my extended family, and they in return have adopted ours.

About a year ago one of the birth mothers got married, and her birth daughter was there at the reception, as a flower girl, along with her adoptive family. There is no question that my sister is her daughter, but there is also no question that she loves her birth mother, and her new birth step-father (is there such a thing? I really am not sure of the right term) and enjoys having them visit on regular occasions, as well as sharing letter, emails, the occasional skype, and extra presents from her bith mother, bith aunts and uncles and birth grandparents.

I am so glad that you are sharing your experiences with open adoption, and the joys and sorrows that are part of being a mother, wherther that mother is the biological mother, a birth mother or the an adoptive mother. I really like what an adopted daughter of a friend said at her 12th bithday party. She said thank you to her birth mother and father, who were both there, and to her adopted mother and father, and to her siblings, who had not been adopted. Her next comment really struck my heart. I don't remember her exact words, but this is pretty close:

"I am really lucky that everyone let me choose to love everyone, and no one in my family is jealous of anyone I love. Everyday I love overyone, but some days I love different parts of my family in different ways. I am glad that Sue* and Ken* decided to let me be part of a big family and have a chance to have a mom and dad that are married to each other. I am also glad that all four of my brothers and sisters love me like I came out of our mom's tummy, like they did. Most of all I am glad that mom and dad let me see Sue and Ken (and Ken's wife and my half-sister) when I want to, and that Sue and Ken understand that sometimes I don't want to see them for a while. I got the best family in the world. I got four parents without mom and dad getting divorced and fighting, and I got a big brother who has some really hot friends!" (I changed the birth parents names.)

I feel like every post you make is thoughtful; about who you are, and what you want for your future and the future of all your children. I am automatically entering you in my July contest, whether you ever visit my blog, or if you decide to moderate out this part of my comment. I honor that you are speaking YOUR truth, and not letting those that disagree with you get in the way of finding joy in your life, even though there are haunting sorrows that can come along with it!

You can check out the new contest on my blog that started July 4th. You can find it here:
poetrysansonions dot blogspot dot com and click on the tab at the top labeled "Contests!"

If you, or any of your readers win this contest, you get to choose handmade cards that higlight your family, in whatever form is important to you!

They are your cards, and I want them to be special to you, so that as you write on them you are able to share a little more love! ;-)

I am so grateful that you inspire so many people to think about what they want their future to be. I want to give back to those bloggers that are looking back to their ancestors for inspitation, and forward to a future of their own making. Who we become is determined by the way we make choices about the life we want for ourselves, amd our children and grandchildren.

Kelsey Stewart, Author said...

Denise and TTABaby I thank you both for coming to read and sharing your thoughts. I would also like to say that I appreciate you ladies taking in what I have pointed out in this post and not taking it the wrong way. I was sure that I would perhaps offend some adoptive parents with this post, but you both have proven me wrong and for that I am grateful.

I agree that there is information in those home studies that should be blacked out for privacy reasons. That I have absolutely no issues with. There are things that could be misused if in the wrong hands. But as I said in the paragraph above, I appreciate that you took my words to heart and see that in adoption there needs to be compromise on BOTH sides to help the process be successful.

Here's to women like you, who can learn and grow through the eyes of someone else's side of the story. Come back anytime!

Kelsey Stewart, Author said...

Julia, I am finding it hard to put into words just how thrilled I am that you chose to stop lurking and comment here on the blog.

What you chose to share with all of us here on ABMV is not only courageous, but I would consider two of the best comments I have ever received here on this blog. What an amazing woman you seem to be!

"I was thinking about you today, as I had my children with me for 4th of July. Custody issues that seem to take more energy than having my children make it so that sometimes I with I didn't love my children so much, that I didn't have to fight for what they need, against an ex and a system that seems so uncaring. It seems that often birth mothers fight a similar fight, because they want to do what is right, not what is easy."

My heart goes out to you Julia. You speak of how I am strong and choose to see the positives instead of harping on the negatives in life but I am in awe of your brave, brave heart! Although no two situations in life are the same, I can identify with you about wanting what is best for your children and fighting for them against the system, against a heart that you once truly loved. (In that, I am speaking of your ex.) I grew up in a divorced family and from an early age I just thought it was normal that my parents lived in different states, had separate lives yet tried to love me equally. I was not at all an easy thing to live with. Much later in life I realized that as hard as I thought it was to live like that, I had no idea just how heartbreaking it was for my mother to live that way. She was my hero, my rock and the strongest person I ever knew, and it was her choices in life that helped pave the way for the person I am.

I guess what I am trying to convey to you is this: somewhere in life your children will understand and appreciate the lengths you have gone to to make things as normal as possible for them. Children of divorce or desertion are incredibly strong kids with a heads up in life that many will not learn for years to come: sometimes life is not always fair but it is what you do with that life that makes a difference!

To you my friend I say, be strong, be genuine and keep loving. Hopefully someday you will be rewarded in way you could never imagine.

As for your second comment, my heart was jumping with joy as I read what you wrote about your niece. I too had my daughter in my wedding and to this day it remains one of the most precious memories for not just me, but her as well. Knowing your birth family in life is much more than connecting with your roots, it is knowing that you WERE loved and WANTED. I never have to discuss those types of things with my daughter because not only does she know and understand my story, but she accepts me for the person I am. Some may consider that rare, but I consider it a blessing. And that blessing is possible because of the incredibly compassionate family that she was raised with. Her parents are nothing short of angels in my eyes.

Hearing from readers like you make what I strive to do in the adoption world worth every minute and every word I dedicate to my quest. I cannot say enough how much I appreciate you reading, commenting and sharing a piece of you with all of us!

And just for the record, I believe that calling you friend would be a privilege. You have touched my heart immensely. Thank you!

Kelsey Stewart, Author said...

Oh and Julia, I will FOR SURE be checking out your blog and I thank you for entering me in your next contest! Cant wait to get over there and read about you!!!

ROBYN Chittister said...

I have really given this a lot of thought.

Our home study has all of our employers, our elementary schools, high schools, and college in it, including our years of graduation. It has personal information about the people we have chosen as guardians. It has my son's information, including his pediatrician. It has information about my childhood that I simply do not share with people, but had to put in, due to the nature of a home study. It includes where we were married. Our salaries, expenses, and assets are there, including the cars we drive and how much life insurance we have.

All expectant parents do not need this information. For one thing, it's a scammer's paradise. I know most expectant parents aren't out to scam PAPs, but, speaking as someone who was scammed, better safe than sorry.

I could see sharing an abridged version of the home study with someone who had narrowed down the choices to 2 or 3. Even then, I don't think just anyone should be able to read the entire home study.

Aside from complete medical histories, the information that we have from my children's birthmothers is pretty general. What religion do you practice? What are your hobbies? There is also the question "Why do you want to place this child for adoption?" I don't know how much they had to fill out for the facilitators, but what we get to see isn't nearly as detailed as the home study.

I wouldn't share my home study with most of my family or friends. If a person we had matched with requested it, I'd have to think about it. How does knowing what elementary school I went to make a difference? You could also say, why does it matter to me if someone knows where I went to elementary school?

A home study is a very invasive process. It completely takes away one's privacy. I'm not saying that being an expectant/birth parent is any easier, in terms of paperwork or process. It's different. I don't know where my children's birth parents went to school (although S did tell me where she went to high school) or how much money they make, or don't make.

I think a home study can reveal a lot more than anyone who hasn't seen one realizes. I don't think that information is for general consumption. I don't think it should be available along with profiles as a matter of course. I don't think agencies should release it without the express permission of the adoptive parents. I know I wouldn't release it until after a match had been made, and even then, it would have to be abridged and redacted. (I offered our home study to my son's birthmother. She declined to read it.)

That's just my very long-winded opinion.

Julia - Finding My Way Softly said...

I was trying to figure out how to post a comment on the page with info on your book, but if there is a way, I couldn't figure it out.

So, I posted about your book on my own blog today. You can see it at

I hope that you get some interest from some of my readers, and some of your readers come look around and find out about this month's contest. You can find the contest info here:

I ordered a couple of copies of your book! Thanks for doing such a good job of writing what you know, and sharing your thoughts with families and children of open adoptions.

Anonymous said...

I had two very invasive home studies, and not all the information in them is accurate! I adopted through the state foster care system so the birth other really had no say in who her children went to, which I realize is completely unfair to her. I can easily see why such comments would trigger you. Here is a birth mother trying to find the best possible home for her child, her flesh and blood that she is relinquishing (I assume) for the child's own good, and potential adoptive parents are squawking about privacy? The birth mother has the right to know fr herself that her child is going to the best possible home. Too many in betweeners either lie or distort, or misperceive. Yes, she doesn't need to know where you went to high school, but she has the right to know anything she wants to know in order to ensure the best for her child.

At the same time I believe the State has the same obligation to odoptive parents, particularly of older children. Adoptive parents have the right to know the history they are about to become a part of. in my experience, and in the experience of my husband, who was adopted himself and later found his birth mom, adoption is tricky business, and full disclosure is best on both ends. It is almost akin to marriage, the joining of two different families. Biology and family history are very strong factors, trauma to all parties involved needs careful consideration.

On another note, I just wanted to say I read about being attacked by your own kind, and I am so appalled! Anyone who has suffered a traumatic event should know better than to judge by the measure of their personal ruler! Obviously, you made the best choice for yourself and children. Obviously you love ALL of them, and didn't "give them up" but gave them life, and gave them a chance at happiness. Obviously you are a moral person. I'm just shocked at some of the comments, and impressed that you were able to keep cool headed and even compassionate under such cruel accusations.

Adoption didn't work for me as an adoptive parent. It could have easily destroyed my family.

However, it was very good for my husband as an adoptee (though not without life-time trauma), and I believe his birth mother also does not regret her decision (again, with trauma, but the best choice for all those involved), and certainly his (adoptive) family has no regrets.

Regardless, anyone who has suffered because of adoption, at whatever side of the fence should know better than to make blanket and hurtful generalities and assumptions. Good for you for being strong AND compassionate, and knowing it!