Really Opening Up To A Social Worker

This year we’ve been highlighting a couple currently going through the process to adopt a child in Washoe County. It’s not easy, but that’s for a reason. The last time we saw them, they were taking nearly 30-hours of parenting classes. At the same time, they were put under the microscope with in-depth, in-home interviews.

Social Worker Jamie Selby arrives to interview Sean and Marla in their home. Selby says social workers usually conduct three interviews: one as a couple, and two individually.

In this interview alone, all three sit around the kitchen table for an intense two hours or more. Selby says she’s looking to see how they interact as a couple, “Do they sit next to each other, do they support each other, do they look at each other, do they laugh, do they have humor, are they comfortable with each other?”

As Selby interviews Sean and Marla, she fills out what’s called a SAFE report. It’s an acronym, but basically it’s a uniform report that all Washoe County Social Workers fill-out in the intense interview process. With each answer, Selby gives the couple a score between one and five. One is outstanding. Five means there’s a serious problem going on. And she admits, “we can ask some specific questions… They had to face if there's ever a difficult time in their marriage. They've had to, I've asked about their sexual compatibility, I've had to ask about their parenting styles, their morals their values.”

After the interview is said and done, Sean and Marla say for the most part, they were unfazed. But there was one question which threw them off kilter, Sean admits. “When she asked us if we were nudists,” he says, “That was the one that I just kind of went ‘whoa!’ But no, for the record, we aren’t nudists.”

Marla does admit they both cleaned for about three hours before Selby arrived. “You want to make sure everything is perfect, but we're not perfect people so then we did what we could do, welcomed her into our home as good as we could, and we hope she felt comfortable here.”

Sean and Marla went on to have their individual interviews, with just as in-depth questions. The next step: an in-home inspection with Selby. We’ll tell you what she was looking for in our next Have a Heart report.

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