Having had my application (or Sol.licitud d’ adopicó international) accepted by ICCA after (in my case) a long and frustrating wait, the next step in any adoption journey is obtaining your Certificado de idoneidad. In English this is simply known as a homestudy.
The Certificado de idoneidad (or CI) is the holy grail of the adoption paper chase; no adoption agency in Spain will even talk to you without one and I don’t know of any country that will process an independent inter-country adoption without it, bar a few extenuating circumstances when the applicant is temporarily living in the country they wish to adopt from. But I’d pretty much bin that as an option. You NEED a Certificado de idoneidad, and for the next six months it will weigh on your mind—heavily.
In Catalunya, Certificados de idoneidad are obtained through an ICIF (Institución Colaboradora para la Integración Familiar), independent bodies consisting of social workers and psychologists who are contracted by the Generalitat. After your sol.licitud has been accepted, you will be appointed one, seemingly at random and then notified (by letter) your start date, and how to pay their fee. (In 2009 it was just over €1,000).
With so, so much depending on their decision to your ‘suitability’ to adopt, it’s no small wonder ICIFs receive a fair amount of flak. You can see a lot of that on the website www.adoptiva.net under the ‘Denegación de CI y otros obstaculos’ section. You’ll read how applicants failed their CI for having ‘charitable’ feelings, for being at the age where they were able to have bio kids, and for having minor medical ailments. Whilst it’s easy to get riled by these stories (biological parents don’t have to be ‘judged’ in the same way, right?) my advice is don’t. You need to focus on your case, and you’ll need to present it in a concise, logical and, above all, calm way.
Having been forewarned, what I would advise is to start your CI process forearmed. From the first meeting, show the ICIF that you are adoption-aware by reading up on the complications, false expectations and pitfalls in parenting adopted children. Two books that really helped me were Raising Adopted Children by Lois Ruskai Melina and Real Parents, Real Children by Holly van Guldren and Lisa M. Bartels-Rabb. (Both are available from Amazon). I tell you more about my first homestudy experience in the next post.