The home study can be one of the most nerve-wracking parts of the adoption process. Across the board, people typically report that they were anxiety-stricken the days before and after their home study. The physical and mental preparations that are required—not to mention the exorbitant amount of paperwork—can take a toll on anyone. The good news is that most of these same people will report that much of their worry was unfounded, as the process was way less stressful than they had imagined. Though nothing can make you stress-free during the home study process, these four tips can help you feel at least a little more prepared.
1. Paperwork Checklist
The paperwork you have to do for your home study is atrocious. There is no other way to put it. However, it is vital that you have all your paperwork ready for your home study. I remember being fearful that I was missing something. Ask your caseworker for a checklist of any and all paperwork you will need for your home study. Check the list twice! It is best to also have any paperwork such as previous tax returns, birth certificates, etc. on hand in case the caseworker forgot to request a needed document.
2. Safety First
The safety check is often the one part of the home study that people are most concerned about. Is my home good enough? Did I child proof enough? Is my home a veritable death trap and I don’t even know it? Relax. Depending on your caseworker, he or she may do a quick glance around the home and move on. I remember being almost irritated about how our caseworker barely checked our home after I had spent days cleaning and child proofing. However, it is better to be safe than sorry. Your agency or even your local child protective agency should have a safety checklist that they use when conducting home studies. I was able to find our county’s checklist online. Get the checklist and make sure everything is taken care of. Even if the check is simple, you will feel better if you are prepared for anything and know your home is ready for a new child.
3. Be Authentic
Ready to get personal? A home study will get very personal with questions from every possible category from your past with DFS to your current sex life. While the questions are not universally asked, caseworkers want to get to know you as well as possible. They are not trying to fail you. The goal of a caseworker is to present you in the most positive light, find why you would make a great parent, and answer any questions you may have. While you should, in a sense, put your best foot forward, you’re likely not your caseworker’s first home study. He or she can spot “fake” from a mile away. Be up front and honest. If there are issues that need to be addressed, your caseworker is there to help you correct what needs correcting.
4. Deep Breaths
The home study is incredibly important. It is one of the most important steps in adoption. It is the process that needs to be completed before anything else can move forward. All of that said, take a deep breath! Stay organized and listen to your caseworker. If you are doing what needs to be done and staying organized, you will be fine. Focus on taking everything one step at a time and doing what is asked of you. When you are on the other side of the home study, you will likely join the many that report, “That was not as bad as I thought it would be!”
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Lita Jordan is a master of all things “home.” A work-from-home, stay-at-home, homeschooling mother of five. She has a BA in Youth Ministry from Spring Arbor University. She is married to the “other Michael Jordan” and lives on coffee and its unrealistic promises of productivity. Lita enjoys playing guitar and long trips to Target. Follow her on <a href=”https://www.facebook.com/halfemptymom/”>Facebook.</a>