In my part of the world when you adopt you are required to give a certain number of references, no more and no less. This is literally the first step in the application process.
We must provide their name, their spouses name, a phone number, their address and the number of children they have.
When choosing our references we were told only the following:
- It’s preferable that all your references have seen you with children frequently.
- Only one can be related to you, the rest must be friends.
- They will talk to whomever answers the phone, so long as its an adult.
- This is typically the biggest delay in the process – references are known not to be timely in responding or returning phone calls.
- We, the perspective adoptive parents, are not allowed to know the questions they are asked. And we are not allowed to read what they write or know what they say.
- First, they will be sent a letter and a questionnaire to fill out and sign. Nothing can proceed until this is completed by all of them.
- Second, they may (or may not) receive a phone call to discuss things further.
At first we were a bit stumped. Recurrent Pregnancy Loss meant that we had distanced ourselves from almost everyone who was having kids as a coping mechanism and to distance ourselves from being let down. Ops.
In the end we chose to ask:
- One of my very best friends for years. We don’t see each other nearly as frequently as we should, but she’s been there for me the best she could through it all. She knew about each one of our pregnancies and each one of our losses, even though she had two successful pregnancies during the same time period. She gave me space when I needed and understood when I had to take time away.
- One of Mr. MPB’s best friends. He had been great to us through everything. He gave us space to meet his baby when we were ready to – he was 6 months old by the time we were ready to. We still sent gifts, the guys still saw each other, but I didn’t attend the baby shower and we kept our distance.
- One family member. We struggled with the selection of the family member, but we did choose my parents as they have seen us with my younger step-siblings and our nephews.
(Later on in the process we also had to give the name and phone number of the individual we intend to name as our child(ren’s) guardian should we both die. For us, they were not someone we had used as a reference, so they were also called. But I’ll talk about that another day.)
When we asked them we told them the “rules” and we indicated how important it is for them to respond to everything quickly. Our friends texted me once they mailed back their written reference – everyone did it super quick and caused no delays. (Clearly our friends know how big of a deal this is to us).
Once we were in the process we were informed that they actually always phone references because sometimes people are not comfortable saying everything in writing so they just double check. Our social worker told us which number she phones from and when she anticipated calling. We told her our preference for who she spoke to (my friend not her husband, as she’s the one who knows us best), but we also let her know she could talk to the spouse as well. This made sense to her, and wasn’t a problem. So, I called/texted everyone as soon as she left and gave them the heads up. Each one answered the call from her as soon as they received it and our friends were kind enough to let me know since I really wanted to make sure things were moving forward. (Clearly our friends also realize that I love to control everything, so they helped me out).
We never knew what they said, but assumed that since we are approved to adopt they must have said nice things.
But then, one day, we were given a copy of the package that was sent to the USA agency for our records. In that package was a photocopy of the written references from all of our reference.
So, what did I do? Clearly I read them. How could I not? It’s not often we get to read exactly what our friends think about us.
Needless to say, I had happy tears running down my cheeks. Our friends, as we anticipated, had only good things to say. Our friends, love us dearly. Our friends, want us to be parents. Our friends, are some pretty amazing people. We are pretty fortunate to have these people in our lives, and our child(ren) will be equally fortunate to be surrounded by such amazing love.
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