The first thing you need to know about an adoption home study – they are to help you adopt, not to try and keep you from adopting.
All families must complete the home study process before a baby can be placed with you. The home study helps ensure a good match is made between children and families. It’s also to make sure the homes of hopeful adoptive families are safe and comply with state adoption laws.
Not all home studies are created equal. Every state has its own adoption laws and different requirements. Here’s where you can check the home study requirements in your state.
Most states require that either an adoption agency or social worker must complete your home study. It’s helpful to know that agencies and social workers want you to adopt and become parents. They want to filter out the obvious weirdos or child abusers. They are not looking for the perfect parents – because we all know there are no perfect parents :).
My wife and I are going through our third adoption home study right now, so this is a perfect time to share tips from our research and experience.
5 tips for getting through your adoption home study:
1. Read about and understand home studies.
It helps to know what you are getting into, right? Here are some helpful places to read about home studies:
- What is an adoption home study?
- The adoption home study process
- Homestudy anxiety
- It’s homestudy day…
- Surviving the dreaded adoption home study
Once you begin your home study, your social worker will tell you what information they need. To give you some understanding of what they will require, here’s a typical home study checklist to review.
The checklist outlines many of the common items required in a home study, but should be used as an example only. Always contact your social worker or agency to get exactly what you need for your home study so you comply with your state’s adoption laws.
2. Prepare for your home visit – but don’t go crazy.
Your home will be checked to make sure it is a safe place for a child to live. So, yes you need to clean your house – but it doesn’t have to be 100% clutter-free. The social worker will not get out a white glove to make sure your home is dust free.
Our social worker looked at every room including garage and bathrooms. It took her all of 5 mins to go through the whole house, so it is not that big of a deal.
Here are some important items to check before your home visit:
- Your home has smoke alarms in bedrooms and in living areas.
- If you have guns, they are properly locked away.
- Swimming pools are covered/fenced.
- Poisons and household cleaners are in cupboards with childproof locks.
- Window drape cords should not hang within reach.
Some states require an inspection from local health and fire departments in addition to the visit by the social worker. Here’s where to check your state’s requirements.
If you have these inspections, you’ll need to post all emergency phone #’s as well as a layout/map of your house. It needs to show exits and your emergency evacuation plan.[ois skin=”5″]
3. Treat your social worker like you would any special guest in your house.
Try thinking of the social worker as a good friend who wants to hear your story and about how excited you are to be a parent.
Offer water, coffee, tea and maybe a quick snack like a freshly baked cookie or muffin. You not trying to ‘butter’ them up – and this is definitely not necessary. You simply want them to feel welcome.
You should think about the best and most comfortable place for you all to sit and talk. A kitchen table works great because there’s plenty of room for the social worker to lay out papers and write, but it may not be the most comfortable.
Choose a place to sit and visit that has these two elements: 1.Comfortable. 2.Place to write and spread out paperwork.
4. Prepare for your interviews with the social worker.
The social worker will likely interview you to find out what kind of family you are. They will ask you personal questions about:
- Why you want to adopt
- Your marriage & relationship
- Your finances
- Your health history
- How you handle stress
- Your parenting style (how you plan on disciplining)
It helps to think about these topics before you have to answer them. Usually, the shorter the answers the better. Don’t leave out important details, but know that the social worker will ask more if they want to know more.
Honesty is extremely important. Don’t ever try and guess what the social worker wants to hear. Don’t hide anything either. It is much better to be up front and honest. Remember they are on your side – they want you to adopt.
5. Don’t be shocked by the large paperwork pile.
You will get a stack of paperwork to complete including:
- Criminal background checks – including FBI fingerprinting.
- Personal references (3-4 people who know you well will need to answer questions about you)
- Self-study questionnaire – aka autobiography or the short story of your life
- Employer reference questionnaire – basically verifying your current employment.
- Financial statement – including liabilities and assets as well as copies of your most recent tax documents.
- Health statement – requiring you to get a medical physical check by your doctor.
- Provide copies of vital records such as marriage license, birth certificates, divorce decrees.
- Adoption education requirements – this varies by state and agency but can include several hours of training.
Gathering information and completing all of this paperwork is what takes the most time because you are at the mercy of other people. For some of this, you are going to have to wait for others to do the work for you – background checks from the government, your 3 or 4 personal references, your medical doctor availability for your physical, etc.
While all of this may seem daunting and overwhelming, most adoptive families (my wife and I too) find the process was much easier than we thought it would be!
QUESTION FOR YOU: What tips do you have for completing your home study without getting too anxious? Click here to leave a comment below.