Home Study for Potential Adoptive Family: What to Expect & How to Prep
The home study is “your life story”. You will probably have several interviews with your social worker, both in your home and possibly in his/her office. The social worker will not be coming into your home to do a “white glove” inspection. Don’t exhaust yourself cleaning and polishing! If your home is “too perfect”, it may be perceived that you will have trouble adjusting to the clutter that always comes with children.
The social worker will be checking to make sure the child you will adopt will be entering a safe, healthy home. If he/she notices something of concern, you will be advised and given plenty of time to make the necessary changes or adjustments.
Friends in Adoption offers important tips and information about the home study process. Check out our tips below to prepare for your home study and learn what to expect.
Tips for Preparing & Hosting a Home Study
Home studies can feel overwhelming. Our main tip? Be yourself! That’s who the social worker is here to get to know. For more tips on getting the house ready, greeting the social worker, and even how to explain the visit to other children you might have, look below
- Be happy and excited, but try to relax. Most importantly, be honest!
- Get organized, complete all necessary paperwork and be prepared for your home study.
- Select a social worker recommended by Friends in Adoption.
- Get your home ready for a visitor, but don’t exhaust yourself cleaning and polishing.
- Offer the social worker a soft drink or cup of coffee when he/she arrives in your home.
- Family photos are a great way for the worker to “get to know” your family (don’t bore him/her with volumes of albums, but some framed photos will be great.)
- Don’t panic … it is okay to be nervous, this is important, but try be relaxed and natural. It will be easier for the worker to know you if you just “be yourselves”.
- Be completely forthright about all aspects of your life, and don’t mislead the home study worker by avoiding or limiting what you share about any part of your life.
- A home study can sometimes feel intrusive because of the personal and private nature of many topics covered, but it is important to remember that these topics are covered routinely during home studies as part of the process.
- If you have other children in your home, let them know a social worker is coming for a visit and why. Don’t panic if your child takes this opportunity to “really act up”. Children do these kinds of things! Your worker has probably seen it before. It may be that your child just needs more discussion/information about what you are planning to do and about the up and coming change in your family.
- Rely on your sense of humor, you will need this throughout the adoption process.
- A smile, a firm handshake, a joke, a generally warm and friendly demeanor among yourselves and with the social worker, will go a long way.
- Remember that the home study can be a very educative and gratifying exploration, and it is vital that pre-adoptive parents are honest and truthful during this critical endeavor.
- Remember the road to adoption may sometimes be bumpy, but worth your efforts. Be patient! The process may seem lengthy, but the rewards are great!
When Should I Start Preparing for a Home Study?
Begin preparing yourself now for your home study. This is a time for introspection. All aspects of adoption should be explored individually at great depth to prepare yourself for your new role of parent.
If you are part of a couple, it is a time to learn even more about each other and how you work as a team. All aspects of the process should be discussed jointly within couples. Each person should have their questions answered and feel completely comfortable with the answers.
This journey will feel like it lasts a lifetime- and will bring life’s greatest rewards. Children restore our awareness of the world around us and renew our wonder and amazement.
Topics of Discussion During a Home Study
So, you’ve prepared the house, talked with your partner or family, and welcomed the FIA recommended social worker. What should you expect to happen now?
First, the social worker will speak to you one-on-one, and then jointly if you are adopting with a partner. They will ask questions to lead through the story of your life. All these topics must be covered to gather a complete look at you and your life. It is strictly to ensure you are in a positive position to adopt a child and that you are ready for the commitment. Talk with your partner or your family if you want to practice walking through the topics.
Topics of discussion will include the following:
- How were you raised, disciplined, loved and by whom.
- Descriptions of your family structure, parents, siblings, your birth order.
- Who was the disciplinarian, the nurturer to you as a child?
- Past and present relationships with family members is an important part of who you are today.
- Past and present experiences with mental health or substance abuse issues.
- Past and present experiences with the justice system (arrest history).
- Your education and school life.
- Your current employment and unemployment history.
- Past and present financial health.
- Your relationship history and developmental experiences related to your sexual orientation.
- Your gender identity and expression and your thoughts and experiences related to gender roles.
- If you are married or partnered, how you met your spouse or partner, and a discussion of your dating relationship.
- Your marriage and current relationship and your problem solving techniques.
- Any previous marriages will be discussed and the reasons for divorce.
- If you have other children from your current or a previous marriage or relationship, there will be discussions concerning their feelings.
- If you have adult children from a previous marriage, they will be interviewed.
- Your home will be viewed for appropriateness for child rearing, safety issues, fire safety, and firearm security/safety.
- Hobbies and interests, leisure time, family and group activities.
- FIA’s application.
- Feelings about child rearing, and discipline.
- Feelings about adoption, adopted children and the level of openness with which you are comfortable.
- Feelings about birth parents.
- Preparation for discussing adoption with your child.
Remember, home studies are all about the social worker learning the story of your life. The social worker will be checking to make sure the child you will adopt will be entering a safe, healthy home. With our tips and tricks, Friends in Adoption is here to support you and other adoptive parents each step of the way. If you have any questions about what to expect for your home study or the adoption process, contact us today!