One of the dreaded items in the adoption checklist is the home study. Most prospective parents invariably think that going under the microscope is an invasive experience. But think of it as a crucial step nearer to finalizing your A Act of Love Adoption and taking your precious child home.
The good news is that you have access to plenty of help. A Act of Love Adoptions and other adoption agencies can provide invaluable services to guide you through the requirements of a home study. Another piece of good news is that you don’t have to be the perfect family to be considered a good fit for adoption. So take a breath and relax. You may even recall these moments as one of your favorites as you look back at the whole adoption process.
Here are some simple reminders as you work to survive the home study without becoming overwhelmed with the stress of preparing for it:
– Be yourself. Social workers are trained to root out any untruths or half truths prospective parents may give in an effort to present the perfect front. Our advice? Don’t. Simply be yourself. The social worker conducting the home study does not expect you to be perfect – they simply expect parents who are prepared to love the child and to provide the best environment for him to grow and thrive.
– Be on the same page with each other. If two spouses are applying to adopt, they must both be committed towards building their family through adoption. This means that it’s not ideal that only one spouse is keen on adopting while the other one was sort of pushed into it. There may be instances where each spouse will be interviewed separately and any negative feelings that the social worker can draw out may adversely affect your application. It does not mean that you need to pretend to be anything you are not. Rather, both spouses need to agree about the decision to adopt.
– Get ready for the paperwork. There will be a lot of this during the home study! Some of the paperwork involves completing your autobiography, submitting tax returns and other financial documents.
– Don’t dwell on the apprehensions, rather dwell on the positive. Prospective parents are often anxious about the home study thinking that they may not make it. Dwelling on this can only make you lose heart even before you go deeper into the process.
– Know what to expect. The social worker will usually look into the following issues:
o Background of each immediate family member, especially the spouses wanting to adopt. This includes medical, financial and family history.
o Status of the marriage relationship, as well as how the family relates with each other
o Interviews with key family members such as parents and siblings
o Reasons for wanting to adopt
o Expectations with regards to the child
o Parenting style and level of experience
o Family environment
o Clearances with regards to any criminal or child abuse history
o Daily routines
o Future plans, expectations and provisions for the child’s education
o Neighborhood, community and existence of support groups
o Religious background and current beliefs
o Safety equipment installed in the home (i.e. childproofing tools)
o References – names and numbers of people who know you
Also, understand that the length of time required and requirements to complete a home study will vary from one adoption agency to another, as well as from one state to another.