Requiring a pre-adoption assessment as part of the embryo adoption process follows the best practices of adoption. Part of this home study or Snowflakes Family Evaluation (SFE) process is the home visit. Not to be confused with the home study, which is the entire assessment process (including education, background checks, medical and financil information, interviews, etc.), the home visit involves a trained home study or SFE provider meeting with the adoptive family face-to-face in their home.
For many adoptive families, the home visit is the most nerve-wracking part of the home study or SFE process. However, it is typically much more relaxing, and even enjoyable, than most expect. I like to think that I leave my families much less anxious than I found them!
Here are some things you can expect during your home visit:
- A brief tour of your entire home: This is not a “white glove” inspection and we are not expecting perfection in cleanliness or decor. We are looking to see that you have a designated sleeping space for your adopted child(ren), as well as ensuring that there are no safety issues and that you have taken the necessary precautions to protect young children from any potential hazards. Most agencies will be looking for (at a minimum) smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, first aid supplies, and proof that weapons are inaccessible.
- Interviews with prospective adopters: Each adoptive parent will likely be interviewed individually and married couples will be interviewed jointly as well. The focus of these interviews will vary depending on the home study agency, but generally will include a discussion on the motivation for adoption and adoption expectations, gathering/clarifying autobiographical information, and a review of the adoption education completed. Adoptive parents should also have an opportunity to discuss any areas of concern and ask questions about the adoption process.
- Interviews with other household members: If the adoptive couple has children in the home who are verbal, they will also be briefly interviewed. The provider will make every attempt to put them at ease by asking some “get to know you” questions and then ask specific questions surrounding their feelings about the adoption. Any other adult household members will be interviewed in a similar fashion. A reference or interview will also be required with any adult children of the couple who live outside the home or minor children who live with another parent.
Now that we have covered expectations for the home visit, here are a few tips for prospective adoptive parents to help ensure a more comfortable experience for all involved:
- If you have questions or concerns about what the experience will entail, reach out to your provider prior to the visit. Many times these areas of concern can be resolved early on, which will make for less anxiety as the home visit approaches.
- If the provider has asked you to do anything in advance to prepare, please do those things.
- If there are pets in the home, keep in mind that the provider may have allergies, or simply not immediately love those animals as much as you do! Being barked at or jumped on by a large dog as soon as one enters a home can be intimidating and uncomfortable for the provider. Some may also not appreciate a cat walking across their keyboard while they try to type.
- Feel free to offer the provider water, and even a light snack. He or she will be doing a lot of talking and expending a lot of energy!
- If you have young children, keep their needs in mind. Once the provider has interviewed and interacted with them, they should not be expected to sit quietly while the adults talk. If they need naps or food, provide those things! It’s usually not necessary for them to be present for the entire visit, so consider having a friend or family member come over to help entertain them or even pick them up after their part of the home visit is complete.
- Dress comfortably. You don’t need to wear formal, or even business attire, for the home visit.