“Knowledge is Power.”
— Sir Francis Bacon
Home Study anxiety is a known thing among prospective adoptive parents. The words all too often provoke sensations of dread and fear. However, the home study process itself is very beneficial. It is conducted by an adoption professional who will determine the best outcome for the family. They act as a guiding resource who also offers support through the journey.
What is a Home Study?
In short, a Home Study is a process that determines whether or not an adoptive parent has the ability to sufficiently raise a child. An adoption professional typically visits the prospective candidate’s house to get to know them better, and to teach them more details about the adoption process itself. There’s also paperwork involved, of course. Once completed, it’ll amount to a 6 to 15 page report that gives the actual approval to adopt.
Often, the Home Study causes a lot of anxiety. The most common fear is that the social worker and adoption professionals will find something wrong when probing into the inner workings of the family. That they will find some error with the house during their visit. Know that while this anxiety is common, there’s nothing to be afraid of. Adoption professionals are not there to purposely find things to disqualify you. On the contrary. They want to learn four essential things: who you are, why you want to adopt, how you’ve prepared for adoption, and if you meet the emotional, physical and financial requirements to adopt. In other words, a Home Study’s goal is, not to find the “perfect parent,” but rather to match the right parents with the right child and ensure that you are the safest and healthiest home for them.
The more you know…the greater your level of confidence.
What a Home Study Entails
Depending on specific state requirements, at least one home visit is mandatory. Beyond that, be sure to double check with your adoption agency or lawyer. Also per state law, and as aforementioned, the home visit will be conducted by a licensed social worker or adoption professional. The whole Home Study process can take up to 90 days to complete.
During their visit, they will require a criminal background check of each adoptive parent and cover a wealth of information. Topics may include, but are not limited to: religious preference, views on discipline and opinions regarding ethics and morals. They will also collect social and medical information, as well as financial and the current health of the prospective adoptive parents. Following that, an assessment regarding the adoptive parents’ skills and their knowledge of adoption issues will be conducted. In specific cases, adoptive parents may be required to attend classes to further prepare them for any impending situations they may face post adoption.
Additionally, the social worker or adoption professional will provide a packet of forms that need to be filled out during the home visit. Among this, adoptive parents can expect to find personal and financial disclosures and fingerprint cards. For those who plan to adopt internationally, the paperwork will include I-600A and I-600 forms.
While this may seem overwhelming, just know that the Home Study brings you one step closer to being an adoptive parent. It’s a lot to go through, yes; but, again — the more you know, the less anxious and more confident you’ll be.
Home Study Anxiety Triggers
The biggest anxiety trigger that adoptive parents have regarding the Home Study process is failing. That something about their past or perhaps medical history will unravel their hopes and dreams of adopting. This fear largely surrounds prospective parents with mental health concerns.
First off, we are all human. We all have pasts. Some more challenging than others. We’ve all made tough calls and have gone through things that we are not proud of. So, that alone is not enough to color the social worker or adoption professional’s view of you. Neither does simply having history seeing a counselor or being on medication to assist with mental health imbalances.
During the Home Study visit, adoptive parents will be asked about their mental health history. Social workers and adoption professionals will assess the existing history, and then reach out to doctors and health officials to verify. Counseling and taking medication illustrates that an adoptive parent cares about their health and that they will extend this to their child.
So, there’s no need to be anxious on this account. The important thing is to be honest about everything during the Home Study visit. Don’t be afraid or ashamed. Let them know how nervous you are. Home Study officials will not actively try to fail anyone. They are held to state standards, and truly want to find the best child to fit your family.
The more you know, the less anxiety you’ll experience.
How to Best Prepare for a Home Study
Being prepared ahead of time is an important component of the process, and will help ease the Home Study anxiety. In the days preceding the home visit, there are several items prospective parents can cross off the list. This includes, compiling the necessary documents and orchestrating the appropriate references.
Regarding the documents, be sure to have enough time to get all of them squared away. Especially because you will need certified copies of birth, death, marriage and divorce records. Other required information: finances, employment and medical history. For a more detailed and extensive list, visit this resource.
When thinking about references, be sure to select people who have known you for a while. People who know and understand your parenting style and personality. Ask those who are trustworthy, and who will not make inappropriate jokes when contacted. Family references are not accepted, so be sure to carefully glean through your friends and professional network and choose the ones who fully support your decision. For instance, picking someone who doesn’t agree with adoption would be counterintuitive.
Closer to the scheduled home visit, ensure that your house is clean and tidy. Don’t worry about making it look like a model home, but don’t have it messy either. Adoption professionals want a good sense of what kind of living condition the child will be growing up in. A home says a lot about someone, and they want to learn that, too.
Providing drinks and food during the actual home visit is an excellent gesture, and creates a more welcoming atmosphere. Keep the time of year in mind when thinking about what to select. Coffee and tea with a plate of cookies is a popular thought. Or, for more summery months, perhaps iced tea or lemonade with a plate of veggies or fruit. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but whatever you choose — have it display who you are.
The Home Study is a necessary step to helping prepare adoptive parents to welcome their child into their lives. It’s a state requirement that ensures everyone’s safety and well-being. There is a lot involved and may feel overwhelming, but the end result will be worth it.
Remember — breathe. Feeling anxious is natural, but the more you know…the more the dreaded home study anxiety should ebb away.
About the Author
Rachel Robertson is a published journalist, book editor, certified Publishing Specialist, and aspiring novelist. She graduated from Central Washington University (CWU) in March 2011, having found her writing voice within the Creative Nonfiction genre and grew to work as a freelance book editor for small presses all across the United States.
In June 2018, she embarked on an internship with Virginia Frank and came on board with Adoption Choices Inc. in December 2018. Between her mutual passion with adoption and surrogacy, and her own personal history with adoption, Rachel is excited to research and share topics each week that will spread awareness and better serve the faithful patrons of Adoption Choices Inc.
When Rachel isn’t haunting her local Starbucks or Barnes and Noble, she’s avidly pouring over her Writer’s Digest subscription or cozying up with a cup of tea and book. She currently resides in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her beloved wife and Border Collie.
“10 Things To Help You Prepare For The Home Study.” Adoption.org, adoption.org/10-things-need-know-youre-preparing-home-study.
“Can I Fail the Adoption Homestudy?” Adoption Network, Adoption Network Law Center – Safer Than Adoption Agencies, adoptionnetwork.com/can-i-fail-the-adoption-homestudy.
“Home Study 101: An Adoption Expert Covers the Basics.” Adoptive Families, 25 Oct. 2016, www.adoptivefamilies.com/adoption-process/home-study-101/.
“Home Study Requirements.” U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of State, Aug. 2018, travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/Intercountry-Adoption/Adoption-Process/how-to-adopt/home-study-requirements.html.
Together, Written by Adoptions. “Easing Home Study Anxiety.” Adoptions Together, Adoptions Together, 10 Mar. 2015, www.adoptionstogether.org/blog/2012/04/10/easing-home-study-anxiety/.