As your family goes through the adoption process, it’s important to understand everything that it entails and how best to be prepared. There are some tricky aspects of this process, and it’s best to have all of the information going into it so you know what’s going to happen. One of the scarier parts of the process for many families is the home study, when a social worker comes directly to your house and checks to make sure that it is safe and acceptable for children.
Myth: A Home Study is Just a Home Inspection
While the home study certainly includes one or more visits to your home, that is not all it is. The social worker will write a report summarizing their findings at the home, as well as speak to references for the parent(s), complete a background check, look into employment and education history, and ask about parenting experience, the safety of the neighborhood, and other key factors. Many families worry that this is an intrusive, difficult, or stressful process, and that everything isn’t perfect, their chance of adoption will be harmed. However, there is no need to worry.
This crucial document can take months to complete, but it provides a comprehensive review of a family’s suitability for the experience of adoption, and is therefore a key component of the process and should not be taken lightly. That being said, it’s also no reason to panic.
Myth: Your Home Must be Perfect to Pass
The main reason that this study is conducted is to make sure that a child is being placed in a home that is safe and loving, and that will provide them with a background for future success. As such, there is no reason to go around changing the entire house before the social worker visits; not having a nursery set up or a bedroom prepared won’t count against you. Mostly, the social worker will simply focus on whether or not there is a space for the child when they arrive and less on the decoration.
Similarly, the social worker isn’t going to go through everything in your house with a fine-toothed comb; they are not trying to find a way to stop the adoption–they just want to make sure that the adoption is the best fit for both you and the child.
Myth: I Need a Spotless Personal History and a Spouse to Adopt
Another thing to know is that being a single parent doesn’t disqualify you from adopting. This is a common misconception, but single parents are absolutely allowed. Again, the social worker is there to make sure that the adoption is a good fit, not judge or determine a personal choice.
Having a criminal history (depending on the severity, type, and lapsed-time) also doesn’t disqualify you, and neither being a renter (versus homeowner). There is also no upper-age limit; while you often have to be a specific age to adopt, being older is not a problem. What’s most important is that the home is safe, comfortable, and prepared.
Ultimately, the goal of the home study is to make sure that the adoption is the best possible fit for both the family and the child involved. The social worker is making sure that the home is safe and suitable for a child, taking into account the background, experience, education, and other key details of the parent(s) involved. No family is perfect, and the social worker doesn’t expect it, so don’t be scared.