A home study is a record written by a social worker who visits prospective adoptive parents and asks a series of questions in order to write a record of their life. This record typically includes extensive information about their background, family, education, health and financial information, criminal record, and parenting plan. Usually, what scares people the most is that they feel like someone is judging them and deciding whether they are good enough to be parents. Here are some tips on easing those fears and surviving your home study process.
The home study is not a time for someone to cast judgement on your family and your home. It is simply a chance to evaluate a prospective adoptive family’s home for health and safety reasons as well as to educate and prepare them for an adoption. When you perceive it this way, everything is going to be much easier for you and your family.
- Be prepared and find out what questions are usually asked during a home study process. Most home studies involve three to five interviews in their office and one in your home. Married couples are going to be interviewed individually. Some of the questions are going to be about past experiences of crisis and loss, how you handle stress, how do you plan to tell your child about the adoption, and other personal information. Having a better idea of what the process involves is a great way to feel more prepared and at ease with the process.
- The golden rule is to always be honest during a home study process. You aren’t going to survive it if you lie — that can only slow or completely ruin your chances for an adoption. So, just be honest and upfront with your social worker and don’t be afraid to ask questions either.
- One common myth about the home study process is that you have to have the nursery completed and all set up to show the social worker. This isn't necessary, and you shouldn't rush to complete a project like this and add more stress to your plate. A social worker only needs to know that there is an adequate place in your house for a child’s room.
- Since one of the focuses of the home study inspection is safety, focus on your list of any improvements that need to be done to ensure you satisfy these requirements. Examples of things you need are smoke alarms installed on each level, a fire extinguisher in the kitchen, safe water, and other similar safety demands. Concentrate on completing these tasks instead of stressing out about the process itself.
- A home study is not about passing or failing. It’s not like a test, but more like a project. The goal is to paint a picture of your family and the future home for a baby. It is important that a baby is placed with a suitable family, so the only goal of a home study is to ensure the family and their home can provide a suitable environment. Think about your future child and just be yourself.
- Contrary to popular belief, social workers want you to succeed in adopting. They want to exclude child abusers and people who simply aren’t prepared to become parents, so don’t be afraid.
For support throughout this process, lean on your partner, friends, family, and other people who have been through the adoption process. Talk through any fears and concerns with your agency or your counselor.