“Did you pass or fail?” I had a friend ask me that question when we were completing our home study to adopt our daughter. She didn’t mean anything by it, and I understood because that is the general attitude of the public: that the home study is a test. Sometimes additional information will need to be provided because of the adoptive family circumstances, but this is not “failing.” I have personally completed a home study for the adoption of my daughter and now, as a social worker, I work with families to complete their home studies.
In my work as a home study social worker, I have seen many different family circumstances and approved a wide variety of families to adopt. Here’s what you need to know as you prepare for our home study.
1) The home visit is not a white glove check!
Yes, I cleaned the house before our social worker came to our home. Even with a degree in social work and knowing in the back of my mind that the house does not need to be perfect, I wanted it perfect. I should have been at ease because I basically knew what to expect, but I was still very nervous. I have heard countless stories from families about their efforts to “prepare their home” for the home visit portion of the home study. No, your social worker will not get the white glove out to examine the dust on your mantle. The home visit is more focused on the safety of the home, such as smoke alarms and fire extinguishers. Feel free to contact your social worker prior to your visit and ask what they will be looking for, if that will give you some piece of mind. In addition to safety factors, the social worker will also be looking to ensure your home meets any requirements of your state (domestic adoption) or foreign government (international adoption) are met (i.e. space requirements.)
2) The home study should be seen as an educational experience that prepares the family for the adoption.
When I help families complete their home study, I want it to be a two-way conversation. I don’t like just asking question after question; a discussion is much more beneficial for both sides. Social workers and the adoption agency want to match you with your ”perfect” child, one who is a good fit for your family. They also want to help you understand the complexities of adoption before you dive in headfirst.
3) Sometimes there are some serious circumstances that will require additional conversations/information exchanged between the family and social worker.
There are often financial guidelines for number of children in a home and the family income. Families might be asked to provide additional financial information/documentation. If there are any criminal offenses that show up on the background checks, additional documentation will need to be provided regarding those.
The more you can share with your social worker and the more upfront and open you are, the smoother the adoption process will go.
Remember: The home study is not a test, it is a process that is meant to help you get ready to receive a child into your home through adoption.
What tips can you offer for families starting the home study process?
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