In order to successfully prepare for a home study, it is important to understand what a home study truly is.
A home study involves a licensed social worker in the prospective parents’ state coming to their home and documenting certain aspects of their lives. While the home study generally produces much anxiety for the prospective parents, it is not meant to be a test. Rather, it is meant to show the social worker the dynamics of your family. Here are some top tips to prepare for the home study process with Adoption Choices of Kansas & Missouri to ease the stress for hopeful parents.
Gather Important Documents
There are several important documents that the social worker will need during the home study. The most significant include birth certificates of everyone in the family, applicable marriage licenses, divorce decrees, and any other legal documents that may contain information regarding the adoption. For example, if you were a foster parent beforehand, those documents would be relevant.
The social worker will need to examine familial income. It is likely that you will be asked for a copy of an income tax form, a paycheck stub, W-2 form, health and life insurance, and a list of other investments and debts. The social worker is looking at general financial stability. Parents wishing to adopt have to show that they are responsible with their finances, not necessarily rich.
Prospective parents must have an updated physical exam that has taken place within the last 12 months. Tuberculosis tests are also necessary for parents. Medical conditions like high blood pressure generally do not prevent parents from adopting as long as they are controlled under a doctor’s care. Life-threatening conditions may impact a parents’ ability to adopt.
Fingerprinting and Criminal Records
All prospective parents must subject to criminal background checks before adopting. Parents must fill out paperwork, submit any criminal record documents, and possibly also partake in fingerprint testing.
Perhaps the most important thing a social worker conducting a home study wants to know is just to learn about yourself and your family. A social worker wants to know about why you want to adopt, what your family life is like, what is your education and job. They will ask about your marriage and family life and ask questions about how you are able to problem-solve and what your communication methods are. This is not meant to be an interrogation or meant to pry into personal details. Rather, the social worker is trying to get a full picture of your life so that they can effectively connect the right birth mother with the right family and place the right child with the right family.
Interviews and References
The social worker will ask for a list of references from people who have known you and your family for a long period of time. Pick references who know you best and will be able to speak to your character in multiple different settings. It is also important to pick references who know your lifestyle and hobbies and will be able to comment on the unique aspects of your character and family dynamics. You will also be interviewed by your social worker about your autobiographical statement just to clarify what you have written. The social worker will conduct joint and individual interviews and will typically interview all members of your family. There will be at least one interview in your home and perhaps even some additional interviews as well.
Ensure Proper Safety Precautions
Finally, make sure that you make a good impression. If you are adopting a young child, make sure to child-proof your home. Check all doors and windows and make sure that they are all functioning and don’t have any safety hazards with locks and screens. It is especially important to make sure that your home has all the up-to-date fire safety regulations. Make sure that you have a fire escape plan, you have working smoke detectors, a fire extinguisher, and working carbon monoxide detectors. Make sure that your house is clean and that you have a room for your future child.
The home study is not meant to be a stressful procedure. If you make sure that you have all of these things taken care of before the social worker conducts the study, it will make the process much smoother, easier, and faster. Remember, at the end of it all the social worker just wants to get a complete picture of your family, so it is most important to be
10 Things to help you prepare for the home study. Retrieved from https://adoption.org/10-things-need-to-know-youre-preparing-home-study.
National Adoption Information Clearinghouse. Preparing for a homestudy. Retrieved from https://www.babycenter.com/0_preparing-for-a-homestudy_1342127.bc
Porter, J.K. (2018, November 06). How to get your house ready for an adoption home study. Retrieved from https://www.familyhandyman.com/smart-homeowner/how-to-get-your-house-ready-for-an-adoption-home-study/
Julianna McKenna is a college student at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana double majoring in English Writing and Psychology. She is passionate about adoption and foster care and is considering a career in adoption law or counseling. In January 2019, Julianna became an intern for Virginia L. Frank and joined the Adoption Choices Inc., team. She is incredibly dedicated to promoting children’s rights and is excited to research and advocate for children.