They call it the "Intake Interview." I remember this step from the last time around.
Before we had the interview, I got kind of nervous when we weren't hearing back from the adoption secretary. So (on my birthday...hoping for some good news), I called her up and she said she hadn't gotten the Bishop's reference back yet but she would call me the moment she did. I said, "Well, okay. He might be busy and forgot or something." I wondered if I should call him, but I'd see him that Sunday at Church, so I tried to not worry and planned to casually ask him about it then. Only a couple hours later, the secretary called me back and told me it had come in the mail that day. WHEW! Happy birthday to me!
With all the initial paperwork in, they can determine whether we are eligible to adopt and start the real paperwork. We were assigned a caseworker, who would call us on her next day of work (all the caseworkers work part-time and have varying hours of actually being in the office) to schedule our meeting to talk about our eligibility.
You know, they make it seem really intimidating and scary: "determining your eligibility." Like it's a grueling job interview and you have to prove your worthiness. But it's not that big of a deal, really. They want to approve you... they want to help you add to your family through adoption. They want this to be a good experience for everyone involved. They just have to make sure everything is in order first, so they can in good conscience recommend you as an adoptive family. Totally understandable and necessary. And complete openness and honesty about every little detail is important.
So, our caseworker called the next week. I answered the phone while I was trying to change Kal's diaper at the same time. Gotta learn to multi-task if I'm gonna have two kids! Ha ha. I was kind of laughing to myself the whole time we talked. We set up the interview up for the very next day. She's an older caseworker (compared to the girl who was my age that we worked with last time) and more professional and down-to-business. It'll be interesting to work with her after working with our last caseworker.
We went and discussed all the eligibility requirements and any issues that need to be addressed before approval. They ask about addictions (drugs, alcohol, tobacco, pornography, video games, etc.), mental health issues, prior convictions (particularly relating to harm to a child), previous divorces, voluntary sterilizations, stability of the marriage (ever considered divorce? ever lived separately throughout the course of the marriage? etc.), whether we have health insurance that will cover the child at placement, our financial situation, whether we are on the same page about adopting, whether we are in good standing with the Church (hold a current temple recommend), and have had good standing with the Church for the last couple years or so (I can't remember the exact time period she asked about, but they want to know if our Bishop ever took our temple recommend from either of us for any amount of time and for what reason). Things of that nature. I'm not sure what things would immediately disqualify you, but if there is any concern (or unresolved issues) at all in any of these areas, they require up to 12 counseling sessions to determine the severity and nature of the concern and help you work through it, if possible. If it's not possible to work through it in their maximum of 12 sessions, they won't approve you.
"Eligibility for adoption may be delayed or denied if at any point it is discovered that a ouple has misrepresented their situation or given false information... Eligibility for adoption may be delayed, put on hold, or denied if at any point during the adoption process concerns are identified about the financial, emotional, spiritual, mental, health, physical well-being, or marital stability." It's important to be honest and talk about everything. If everyone who became a parent had to meet such requirements, the re-population rate would drop drastically, ha ha. But it's good for us and strengthens us. I wonder sometimes if that's why we're on this adoption journey... to help us grow and keep us humble in a way that we wouldn't have otherwise.
Then our caseworker went through the Description of Services again with us, even though we read and signed it at the Orientation Meeting. They have to make sure we understand the process and the services that they will provide. Yep, got it! And we discussed our next steps in order to move forward. Kal was way past his naptime at this point in time and was HYPER, spinning in circles and bobbing his head, and throwing his ball, etc. Ha ha. The meeting lasted about an hour.
I thought it was all professional and went something like this...
But Kal thought it was a party, like this...
So, NEXT STEP: Pay the initial non-refundable fee of $1,000 and fill out a folder full of paperwork by hand before moving on to the online paperwork. No matter what happens after paying that fee, they won't refund it. So you have to be certain that you want to move forward. And if you never get chosen by birth parents, then you just lose that money. When you do adopt a child though, that $1,000 goes towards your entire fee that's due when a child is placed with you, so that's cool.
P.S. - What I learned from our last time through adoption: TRACK ALL EXPENSES in relation to the adoption! And have them organized, receipts and everything, for tax purposes. My receipts were all over the place in all kinds of random boxes, mixed in with tons of other stuff. That made doing our taxes a mess when I had to dig through everything and look through every one of our credit card statements and check stubs to see what we paid for and with what. It's much easier if you consistently pay with the same credit card and track each expense amount and description on a spreadsheet.