5 Ways to Prepare for Your Home Study
When I talk to couples who are preparing to adopt, I get so many questions about the home study. For some reason we think of it as this fearful judgement that gets to determine our future. A test that we must study for in order to pass. Hopeful families are unsure of what to expect and feel inadequate – even if they are already successfully parenting children! The home study has a bit of a reputation for being tedious and invasive. It can feel that way at times. But I believe I felt this way more because of the emotional baggage I was dealing with during this time in our lives. We were deeply grieving infertility when we began the adoption process. We were simultaneously researching adoption agencies and creating our profile book. It’s not shocking to look back and wonder how we felt so overwhelmed. But the home study itself was, although comprehensive, relatively simple and straight forward. All the fears I had about being judged or inadequate quickly faded after the first meeting with our social worker. He was kind, compassionate, and respectful of our space and information. If you’re gearing up to begin the home study, don’t sweat it! It is not as invasive as you think.
- Relax. Seriously, just relax. There is no test to study for. There is no one to impress. The social worker that completed our home study had been licensed for over 25 years and he told us he has only denied two families to adopt. Two. Out of hundreds and hundreds of families! The purpose of a home study is not to have you fail but only to ensure that your family is capable of providing love and basic needs to a child.
- Prepare your home. I don’t mean you should clean every nook and cranny in your home. Your social worker isn’t looking for dust. But if you have a remodel project on the horizon or are considering adding on a bedroom that would be your child’s nursery, you should get that done first. Your social worker will just want to see that you have adequate space in your home comfortable for a child.
- Collect proper documents. If you find yourself anxiously awaiting your first appointment with your social worker, use that time and energy to begin preparing the required documents. Documents such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, social security cards and recent tax forms can take some time to collect. Start gathering such documents and place them together in a safe spot so they’re ready when asked for.
- Get ready to take notes. During your first meeting with your social worker, take notes and make an organized list of each item that you need to complete for the home study. This included forms, financial statements, recommendation letters and anything else required by your social worker or agency. Because my heart and brain were overwhelmed by many things, having this quick, organized list made me feel more in control of this process and clearly laid out my expectations. I simply worked down the list and crossed off each thing as I sent it to our social worker. Beside each task, I added the date that I sent each item – just in case it were to get misplaced.
- Ask for a reasonable timeline. Sometimes, the adoption process can seem like it’s taking forever to complete. There are many steps and they each take a chunk of time to complete. After my husband and I had provided all necessary information, I asked our social worker for a reasonable timeline of when we could expect our completed home study. This gave me an “end date” that I could look forward to. This also put our social worker on the hook to provide our home study within this timeline. Know that dates can change and extra requirements or questions from your social worker may interfere with the timeline a bit. Be a little flexible. But knowing an approximate timeline will help you prepare your profile book and save up funds for the next step in the adoption process.