You have made the decision to adopt and the next step is a home study. I am sure that in your decision making process you spent some time on google researching what a home study is like. You have probably read and heard all different things about the home study. The home study can be disconcerting for many people. It can be scary, exciting, overwhelming, and a bit mysterious all wrapped into one big package. Here are what I hope is some helpful information into what a home study is really like.
- Every state is different
When I meet with families and start discussing the home study process, I often see confused looks on their faces as what I am describing may be quite different from what they have read on the internet. The first thing you need to know about the home study is that every state is different. So, while it is important to do research and those google searches can provide some wonderful insight into what a home study could look like, please remember that some of the things you are reading may be applying to another state’s standards.
- It is a process
Having a home study completed is a process. It is not something that happens overnight. I typically advise families that the time period from when they submit their application and their home study being approved is typically somewhere between 3 and 5 months depending on how quickly they are able to turn their home study paperwork in.
- There are interviews
Yes, there are multiple interviews. There will be family, joint, and individual interviews along with a home inspection. If there are others residing in the family’s home (children, extended family, a close family friend, etc.) I will meet with them as well. I realize that many families are very nervous about the interviews; that they might say the “wrong thing”. There is no need to be nervous. This is a time to get to know families. We talk about their childhood, school history, work history, marriage, relationship with friends and family, reason for adoption, thoughts on parenting and discipline, etc. This is really a time for me as the worker to get to know the families I am working with.
- There is paperwork (a lot of it!)
Yes, there is a lot of paperwork. However, we do our best to break it up at various intervals throughout the process so you do not get too overwhelmed. Home study paperwork includes things like background checks, references, questionnaires, medical reports, and lots of documents to read through and sign. My advice; take it one document at a time and you will get through it.
- Be ready to be educated
Education is a large component of the home study. We want families to be as prepared as possible for their adoption journey. This will include books, articles, videos, and online webinars and can be time consuming. Take advantage of this training instead of seeing it as a hurdle or a hindrance to completing your adoption.
- It is a time to ask questions
While the home study process is definitely a time where I am getting to know you as a family, it is also a time for you to ask questions. I personally love it when families come to meetings with questions. This is all part of the “getting to know each other” process. So, do not be afraid to ask your questions and trust me, there are no stupid questions in adoption. You need to be fully prepared and it is our role as an agency to help make sure that all your questions are answered!
- What the home visit really looks like
I enjoy walking through your home and seeing what you are all about. I love to see pictures on the wall, how you decorate your home, and what your backyard looks like. Are there specific things I am looking for? Of course! However, that list of home requirements is provided to you early on in the process so you have plenty of time to prepare. I will not be wearing my white glove to make sure that there is not a speck of dust. I am there to see how you live and that your home is a safe environment for a child. So, if you forgot to make your bed that morning no worries, that’s life!
- What is the final product?
At the end of all the paperwork, interviews and education is a report. This is a report that combines all the information you have provided and was discussed into a final report that approves you for adoption. It will take several weeks for the document to be written, reviewed by a supervisor, printed, and mailed to you.
- Every state is different
So, while the home study is a major part of your adoption journey please don’t let it stress you out or overwhelm you. Embrace this time as a time to learn and ask questions and help prepare you for this amazing journey you are getting ready to enter into!