August 6, 2007
Inviting and Comfortable
Inviting and Comfortable, that's how our house is described in the Home Study report.
I think the most nerve-racking part of an adoption home study has to be the "home visit". The thought of someone coming into our home to evaluate us is enough to send anyone spiraling into a cleaning frenzy. Although this is not entirely a bad thing, it has been known to get out of hand. I got a kick out of hearing Dawn Davenport, author of "The Complete Book of International Adoption", describe how she bleached her kitchen counter tops to kill all the germs. She noted, "I'm not sure why I thought it was important to have a germ-free counter top, since we are big advocates of the five-second rule - if food drops on the floor, you can still eat it if you pick it up within five seconds, counted as slowly as necessary to retrieve the food."
Now I know that the home visit is simply to determine if the home meets the state's legal requirements for living accommodations. And I know that the requirements are pretty minimal. All I really only needed to do was ensure that the smoke alarms were working properly, there was a fire extinguisher in the kitchen, and do some basic child proofing like putting those little plastic plug protectors in every outlet. Piece of cake, right?
Well, with four young boys in the house, nothing around here is ever that easy. Every room I cleaned was suddenly the room they wanted to be in. By the time I cleaned the next room, the previous room was messy again. It was one step forward and two steps backward. I complained to Martin that this house was too big. It took him over two years to build all 7,120 square feet. How could we be expected to keep it all clean for longer than two days?
Since sending the boys off to camp for a couple of weeks wasn't an option for us and moving to a smaller house would defeat the point of building this one, I finally enlisted the boys' help with cleaning and even recruited a few of their friends. Why didn't I think of that sooner? What a difference. With the housekeeping in decent order, we decided to step it up a notch and see how many projects on our to-do list (the one we started when we moved in over a year ago) we could finish before the "visit". Granted, we didn't finish everything, but we did knock off a few biggies.
On the morning of V-day (a.k.a. visit day), I found myself ironing. Maybe it was just nervous energy, but first I ironed my clothes, then all the kids clothes, then the bed sheets, and I didn't stop until even the dining room table cloth was wrinkle free. This may not sound like a big deal to most readers, but those of you who really know me, this is virtually unheard of. I'm almost embarrassed to admit it in such a public forum, but I don't even own a standard size ironing board. All this ironing took place in my closet on a miniature board more appropriately suited for a college dorm room!
Our social worker and the intern that came with her were both very sweet and patient. The visit lasted a couple of hours, which I think is longer than usual, but our two youngest sons decided to "entertain" us while we were trying to sort out all the paperwork at the wrinkle free dining room table. She also interviewed the boys - without me in the room. I resisted the urge to put a glass on the door and listen in on the conversation. Although I couldn't make out exactly what they were saying, I could hear them competing to talk the loudest (everything is a competition for our boys) while telling her all about the fun things they want to do with a little sister and how cool it will be to go to Russia.
It was finally time to give a tour of the house, this was the moment of truth ... and it lasted less than five minutes!
When I opened the draft of our home study report, I skipped over all the autobiography information and immediately scrolled down to the heading of Housing. All our hard work culminated into a single sentence: "Their home is inviting and comfortable".
Hmmm. Do you think that is just a nice way of saying "lived-in, but not too messy"?
Our house may never be quite this clean again, so I've created another bubble photo strip with the pictures of home. You're invited to come on in and make yourself comfortable. <
Posted by Kim Abraham - Mom to the Fabulous Five!