As I mentioned in my last post, THE holy grail of any adoption paper chase is the homestudy, or Certificado de idoneidad (CI). Out of the handful of ICIFs (Institución Colaboradora para la Integración Familiar) in Barcelona registered to award you one, I was allocated an ICIF uptown. After paying my fee, I received a call from their receptionist telling me of my start date.
The CI process in Catalunya consists of two introductory sessions (which always take place on a Friday afternoon and Saturday), at least four private interviews in their offices and one visit to your home. These are generally spread out, and it’s not unusual for this part of the process to take five to six months. I’ve heard that in the UK a home study can take three years or more, so really it’s not such a bad deal. That said, it is nerve wracking and carrying around the feeling that you are being constantly ‘judged’ is draining.
Still, I had a spring in my step the day I went to my introductory session. I had spent countless hours reading up on all facets of adoption, from legalities to parenting and the moral dilemmas international adoption incurs. I felt I was more adoption-aware than most and secure that my decision was well thought out, not to mention almost delirious that I was well on the way to being a mum. However, the wind was knocked out my sails almost as soon as I entered the room.
Once I gave my name to the social worker/receptionist, she identified me as the only ‘single’ in the group and told me to sit in the ‘odd’ chair in the circle so that ‘couples’ could sit together.
Over the next two days we were given exercises and directed to do role-plays that tested our ‘motivation’ to adopt. We were asked what sort of emotional and cultural baggage the child might bring into the home, how parenting an adopted child may differ from that of a biological one, how we would approach the subject of the child’s biological mother and even what we would do if we found out our child had been sexually abused.
To my dismay, not one scenario or hypothetical question took into account my single status. Every question directed at the group started out "As a couple, what would you do if…" or "How would you handle this problem between you?" Even a simple role-play whereby we had to break the news to our friends of our decision to adopt was set up as a dinner party between three couples—which couldn’t have been further away from my reality. Couldn’t they have thrown in a single woman/gay man/someone’s visiting grandfather for that one?
By the end of the second day I was incensed—and pretty much said so in my feedback form, which you are required to fill in, along with a lengthy personality questionnaire, at the final hour, immediately before your first private interview.
I waited to be called in for that outside whilst nervously smoking a cigarette. Had rocked the boat a little too early in the game? I’ll tell you in my next post.