Inside: 10 Ways to Prepare for Your Adoption Home Study
You made the decision to pursue adoption, but now what? What do you need to do in order to get ready?
As you begin your research, I am sure you have heard a ton about the home study.
It sounds a little scary to have someone dig into every detail of your life.
Your marriage, family history, and the worst for me…your finances.
My husband and I were both teachers with a ton of student loan debt, so I was terrified that we wouldn’t qualify.
But everything was fine, and I realized that the social workers WANT you to pass your home study.
A home study is required to adopt domestically, internationally, or through foster care.
Once we decided to adopt, we started on the home study right away. Having gone through the home study process for foster care, I knew it was a ton of work.
But, the home study for domestic adoption was a million times easier, partly because we knew what to expect.
Our home study was done by a private agency in North Carolina.
I think most states have the same general expectations, but there may be a few things in your state that are slightly different.
Use these suggestions as a guide, but make sure you check the specific requirements within your state.
The tips below will help you prepare as much as possible and know what you can expect as you start the process.
What to expect
When we started, the first thing we had to do was fill out what a long application to just start the home study process.
The agency we worked with would usually take up to 12 week to have it complete, so we chose to expedite the process for an extra fee.
It was totally worth it and we were done, home study approved in less than three weeks. This is what the process looked like for us.
We met with the social worker for a total of three times. Twice in her office, and the final time, at our home.
During the first meeting, my husband and I had to speak to her separately.
She asked us questions about our childhood, hobbies, personalities, and everything about us as individuals.
In the second meeting, the focus was on us as future parents. We discussed how we planned to raise our child, discipline, schooling expectations, and more.
Both of these meetings lasted about an hour and all of the questions were pretty straight forward.
2. The home visit
When the social worker comes to your home, it does not have to be spotless. You don’t have to childproof or even have the baby’s room ready.
They do want to see that you have a room to eventually turn into the nursery, but that’s it.
Don’t worry or stress about the visit.
We walked around our house to every room. In the report, they have to document the entire house, even the laundry room.
Our social worker did not look in closets or drawers at all. She just took a quick peek around and then we talked a little bit about our neighborhood.
The visit was easy and simple. Remember, they want to approve your home study.
Your home study agency will give you a list of documents that they will need. This may vary but some of the things we had to include were:
Don’t stress about this either right now, but just start looking ahead and getting things together.
Your home study agency will give you a list of documents you need and their list may be slightly different than ours.
4. Reference letters
We had to include three letters from friends or co-workers (no family members) providing a character reference about ourselves.
Choose people who have known you both for a while and ask them to write about you as a person.
They should include your strengths, personality traits, and why they think you would make a great parent.
These letters had to be notarized, so it may be a good idea to start thinking about who you would like to ask.
It may take them some time to write it and get it notarized.
Again, your agency will let you know if this is a required part of your home study.
5. Fingerprints and background Checks
You will most likely have to get fingerprints done and complete state and federal background checks.
For the finger printing, we were able to get that done through a system at the local UPS store.
It was so easy and the results came back quick.
Your agency will give you all of this information, and this part does not take too much time.
However, we did have to pay extra for these things and that was not included in our home study fee.
Also, don’t stress if you have a minor infraction show up on your background check.
Everyone makes mistakes, and even though things may stay on record for a while, it doesn’t mean that you will automatically fail your home study.
This is definitely a case by case basis, and I recommend talking to your agency upfront about any concerns you may have regarding what may show up.
It’s better to tell them about an something from your past ahead of time, than try to hide it and it show up on a background check.
5 more home study tips
1. Be Proactive with paperwork
There is a lot of paper work. And its very very repetitive.
Be prepared to spend time filling out forms about yourself, your spouse, your finances, background, and more.
I felt like I filled out four different forms about our finances, all asking the same things in different ways.
As you get the papers to fill out, do them right then or as soon as possible.
Don’t let them sit on your kitchen table thinking you will do them later. They will pile up!
It’s best to just keep up with all of the forms as they com in.
2. stay organized
I recommend getting an accordion folder to keep all of your papers organized.
You will want to keep original copies of everything.
If you have to travel when you adopt, you will want to bring all originals, so go ahead and get a folder system that can easily travel.
3. Start Gathering items now
Thinking of all the documents you will need, start getting them together now in case you need to get a copy of it.
I could not find my birth certificate anywhere, but because I started getting things together early, I had plenty of time to request a new one from the register of deeds.
The key to all of this is being proactive.
4. practice questions
You don’t need to memorize responses to questions you may be asked, but it’s always a good idea to practice.
The social worker will probably ask you about how you and your spouse plan to raise your child, so go ahead and have these discussions prior to your home study visit.
It will help you prepare, and also give you and your spouse an opportunity to discuss these important topics.
The adoption process is stressful and overwhelming, but also so exciting.
Enjoy going through these things and just remember that every line you fill out is getting you closer to growing your family through adoption.
Having someone come into your home and investigate your life can be very intimidating, but just remember the social worker is there to help you.
They WANT you to successfully complete your home study and become approved!
As you are starting to go through the home study process, what do you find to be the hardest part of it? How could you have better prepared?