So, we are moving forward with the au pair (hereinafter "Lindsey", since that is her name after all). She has been fantastic and, in the interest of full disclosure, I have made her aware of this blog so she can really see what she's getting into. She has two sisters, so I'm not sure if she'll be as surprised as I am about all the boy stuff Luke shocks me with. Oh, those crazy boys. Anyway, we are working on getting her set up, and everyone seems to have a ton of questions about this entire process, so here's a little blurb. I'd be happy to answer as many questions as I can, but obviously we're still working through it ourselves.
First of all, we used a service called Au Pair Care. They do almost everything for us including helping us see each other's profiles and setting up interviews. They are incredibly helpful. I have no idea what our profile looks like on the au pair's side of this process, but I get to see almost everything about the au pairs. I see their health history, family history, childcare experience, where they have lived, education, languages, certifications, pictures, living situation, allergies to pets, recommendations, physicals by physicians for this process, references (that I can call), driving history, personality questions, an essay, short answer questions, an interview taken by an Au Pair Care representative. It's really amazing how much I can find out about a person. Then, I get to designate au pairs that I would like to interview. I call them up on the phone or conduct an interview via skype. (We signed up for an international calling plan and called the au pairs in one weekend). You are given three days to interview the au pairs and during that time they are essentially "off the market" for other families, although Lindsey interviewed with another family while we were doing our interviews (luckily, she picked us!). After three days, you no longer have priority and the au pair goes back into the pool of au pairs. Once you accept an au pair, you request a match and pay your fees to the agency. The agency arranges almost everything on the family end and we don't really do much on the technical side (like arranging for flights or visas) with the au pair.
Lindsey will live with us for one year. At the end of the one year commitment, the family can request an additional 6 months to one year and the au pair has the option of accepting - she has no obligation to stay. I can't tell you how amazingly accomplished most of the au pairs in the program are. I am blown away by their English skills and accomplishments in university. Lindsey actually just finished a year as an engineering student at "Uni" as she calls it. Took me a minute to figure out what she was talking about when we did our interview, but I caught on since she was talking about exams. She is also an accomplished golfer, but I warned her that it will be hotter than Hades on our golf courses.
That's the basic process so far. I'm certain that Lindsey could tell you more about the process from her side, but I won't speculate. I know they don't have access to our pictures because the au pairs that I interviewed all asked for pictures of the kids. I also sent pictures of the whole family, the house, and the room she will be staying in. I figured it is only fair. We have to provide her with her own room, but the program doesn't require her own bathroom. She'll have her own big room and bathroom in our house, but I thought it was funny when another au pair candidate asked me if she would have her own bathroom. This whole process is somewhat crazy when you realize that a stranger is commiting themselves to come live with you in a foreign country. Chuck and I are comfortable with it because we've done this before on at least three ocassions where we've had friends or family live with us for as long as six or seven months (and we all still get along splendidly! In fact, each person who lived with us came to George's baptism this weekend - well, Shelby said she was coming - oh, well). We've enjoyed it everytime, although I can see how some other people may not be as open to it as we are.
Okay, enough rambling for now. I'll post something witty soon!