Applying and preparing for adoption is often one of the most stressful processes you can go through. It may seem like there is hoop after hoop to jump through before you can finally be a parent.
One of those “hoops” is a home study. The gist of a home study is that you are visited by a social worker and give them a tour of your home.
Why Have a Home Study?
Adoption agencies and social workers have a duty to place adoptive children in safe environments with loving parents. Without spending too much time getting to know the prospective parents, a home study is conducted during the adoption process to give authorities an impression of the quality of care the parents can give and display if they adopt.
Home studies are conducted later in the process, after background checks and references are thoroughly reviewed. Since home studies are conducted close to the actual adoption, they should not be viewed as a scary barrier. If the agency or social workers saw a couple unfit for adoption, chances are they would have terminated their application way before getting to the home study stage.
With that in mind, an upcoming home study should not be intensely intimidating. It is, however, a good idea to make a favorable impression to avoid critiques or corrections. These will not be big fixes, but rather suggestions to make your house safe for your new child.
Use the following tips to help you impress the person conducting your home study –and get your home prepared to welcome your new child for the first time:
Replace the Batteries In Your Smoke Alarm. All of the things your house needs to keep everyone in it safe need to be checked and updated as necessary: smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, and so on.
Buy Some Locks. Do you have firearms, medication, or alcohol in your house? Be sure to lock it up and keep it in a place where wandering children cannot access it. Social workers won’t snoop. If something is kept behind lock and key, it most likely won’t be concerning to them.
Check Your Water Heater. If your sink or bath water is too hot for a young child, your social worker may ask you to turn down your water heater to guarantee that your child isn’t scalded.
Consider the Age of the Child You Want to Adopt. If you are at the step in the process where you know the age range of the child you want to adopt, you can adjust your house more appropriately. However, if you are still not sure whether you will be adopting a teenager or a toddler, toddler-proof the house. Extra precautions will never hurt a home study.
Plan out Your Child’s Room. You don’t have to have a full nursery or room set up with all the frills, but it is important to have a designated space where your child’s room will be. If the room is currently an office or home gym, work on moving the equipment and furniture out sooner rather than later.
Prepare With Your Spouse. If you are adopting a child with a spouse or a partner, prepare your home with him or her. This way, you are on the same page about safety standards and can move forward with the adoption process together.
Be Honest and Ask Questions. If you are nervous about the home study, shift your perspective. Look at it as a way to learn more about making your home suitable for your child. If you are unsure about proper safety or how to “baby-proof,” your home, ask! Don’t be afraid to ask questions. After all, your social worker will be asking questions as well. Your efforts to learn about making your home safe will be much appreciated.
Don’t Go Too Crazy with Cleaning. While your house should be fairly clean and organized, you don’t have to scrub your floors with a toothbrush before your social worker comes to visit. Despite what many couples believe about home studies, social workers will not come to your house with a white glove to test the cleanliness of every surface. If cleaning the house from top to bottom is going to stress you out before your visit, stick to the basics.
Relax! You are so close to adopting your child…enjoy it! Home studies are not witch hunts, and if you approach the situation with a skeptical or negative attitude, your social worker may think that you are acting strange. Before your social worker arrives, take a few deep breaths and know that this home study brings you one step closer to being a loving parent.
Unfortunately, not all adoption processes will run smoothly, and even in the best case scenario they can feel complicated and confusing. If you need legal representation while you are going through the adoption process, contact us today.