I know from experience that your first home study visit can be terrifying, but if you already have children there is another level of horror that may catch you off guard. Did you know that when you have a home study done, the precious social worker will interview your kids? Yes. Let that sink in for a minute. Also, depending on the social worker, you may not get to be present during the interview.
Did you just break out in a cold sweat?
During our first home study visit, we had four children. The little one was two years old, so he got a pass, but my other three children, ages four, seven and nine got to sit down for a one-on-one with our social worker.
I’d like to say that I was confident in their ability to make us look good, but I would be lying. In reality, I was biting my nails in the next room while I strained my ears to hear what they were saying. My kids have no filter, after all, and whatever comes into their sweet heads comes right out of their mouths.
At the time, I didn’t know these three facts that could’ve helped me chill out:
1. Social workers aren’t out to get you. They know how hard it is to find good adoptive families. They really want to put a child in your home if at all possible.
2. Social workers are real people. Many of them are parents themselves, and they have their own cringe-worthy tales of things their children have said in public.
3. The fact that you even care what the social worker thinks means you are a better parent than you realize. You’re stressing. You’re reading this article for goodness sake! You are going to be just fine. Lousy parents think they’re awesome. Awesome parents think they’re lousy. The end.
So here’s how it went down:
The social worker started with basic questions: How old are you? Do you like school? Blah, blah, blah.
That was easy, but she was just getting warmed up.
Then she got down to adoption business: How do you feel about having a new brother or sister? What will you do if your new sibling is a different color than you? What will you do if someone makes fun of your new sibling?
Okay, we’re still doing well. My kids are thrilled to have a new addition.
Then our lovely social worker started meddling: Is your mommy a good mommy? What happens when you do something you aren’t supposed to? What does Daddy do when he’s mad?
By this time my ear was pressed against the wall.
I’m not a perfect parent. I get angry some times. I yell more than I would like. I’ve even spanked in the past and trust me, if you’ve ever so much as swatted a mosquito off of your child’s leg, she’ll remember and tell the social worker all about it.
You don’t have to be a perfect parent to foster or adopt. We make mistakes. Hopefully we learn from them (I don’t spank anymore because of things I’ve learned through my attachment training.) Social workers want to see that you love your kids and provide a safe environment for them. Again, if you are reading this article, you probably have nothing to worry about.
We made it through that first interview and got approved to adopt our son from Ethiopia.
Since then we’ve had several home study visits for both fostering and adoption. The questions are usually the same and now I have five children old enough to be interviewed. The difference, though, is that I’m not worried about what my kids are going to say anymore (and they’ve said some doozies!). I love them fiercely, and that love shows. Really, that’s all the social worker is looking for in the end.
If you have an embarrassing home study story I’d love to hear it. You can help us all feel better about ourselves and our crazy kids!