Preparing for a home study can be an exhausting event. Many couples feel the need to create a perfect environment and appear as prototypical future parents to impress the social worker. Keep in mind that social workers do not expect perfection. In fact, some social workers express concern when they encounter families that appear to have a sterile home and a flawless life because these parents appear to be giving a dishonest impression of their life. Additionally, if the couple is picture-perfect, they may not adjust well to the disruptions that a child would bring upon a home. In preparing for your adoption home study, consider these factors. Take a deep breath and use these tips to get prepared for your home study.
Preparing the Home
Prospective adoptive parents often think that the social worker is inspecting for any surfaces with dust or stains on carpet. Your home should be tidy and clean, but it should also look lived in, especially if you already have children. You don’t want your home to look like an impeccable environment without a single ounce of personal items. Typically, social workers are not walking around opening cabinets while in your home.
A social worker wants to see that you have a room designated for your future child, though it need not be a completed nursery. A major focus of the home study will be on safety. Make sure all smoke detectors are installed and are in working order. Some social workers may request to see that you have emergency evacuation routes. Secure electrical cords and cover outlets with plastic covers. If you have a trampoline or swimming pool, be prepared to explain how you will keep the area safe, including plans to build a gate around the access point. Lock up firearms, chemicals, and medications in a safe location.
Preparing for the Interview
Many people put all their effort into preparing the home and forget about preparing for the interview. You do not want to have a list of scripted answers, but it is a good idea to think about the questions ahead of time and how you would answer them. Honesty is extremely important. You do not need to divulge your darkest secrets from high school, but you also want to avoid appearing deceptive or misleading. Questions you should be prepared to answer pertain to your finances, career, marriage and relationship, parenting style, discipline, medical history, religion, reasons for wanting to adopt, and many more.
Preparing Existing Children in the Home
If you are already parents, your social worker will likely want to interview your children. You do not want to coach your children by giving them memorized statements, but it’s a good idea to prepare them for the visit. Explain who the social worker is and why they are coming. Let them know that the social worker may want to talk to them. Remind your children that you are not adopting to replace them, but instead, to add to your family. Ask the social worker prior to the visit if your children need to be present for the home visit. They may prefer to interview them in their office, so that you can give them your undivided attention during the home visit. If they plan to talk to the children during the home study, have a caretaker available to tend to them during the meeting.
Adoption can be a stressful process, but in the end, you will have a beautiful child to complete your family and every ounce of discomfort will be worth a lifetime with your child.