Most adoptive parents can agree that the concept of a home study can be terrifying. It is easy to let anxiety and doubt take over. The days leading up to a home study can often feel like a black cloud is lingering overhead. The good news is that just as many parents who have already adopted will tell you that the home study was not as stressful as they thought it would be. Yet, this likely won’t stop you from worrying! To ease the stress and anxiety of the big day, here are three great ideas to prepare for a home study.
1. Get the Checklist
One aspect of the home study that I was most worried about was the “safety audit.” I was nervous that I would miss some sort of safety hazard in my home or not know about a criteria the social worker would be expecting me to have fulfilled. While your home doesn’t often have to be completely childproofed at the time of the home study, there are some basic safety requirements that each county will require. In researching requirements, I hit the jackpot when I found the “Safety Audit” paperwork for our counties DFS available online. I was simply able to print the checklist the social worker would be using so I knew exactly what to expect. If you are unable to find the safety audit online, contact your local child protective service office or even just your agency to see if they will send you a copy of the checklist. I was able to make sure every criteria was covered before our home study and eliminate any fear that I had previously.
2. Have the Paperwork Ready
While our agency provided a list of paperwork we needed for the day of our home study, we found out at the first interview that we did not have everything we needed. We had every piece of documentation they asked for, but there were additional pieces needed that they had failed to note. While there was a moment of panic, I had luckily prepared for such an incident by having all of our legal, tax, and identification documents at the ready in case there would be anything more they needed. A few days before your home study, make sure you have every document needed. In addition, make copies of all your important documents in case your social worker needs additional documentation or clarification. Have a computer and printer ready for anything you may be missing.
3. Plan Ahead
The night before our first home study, I did not sleep at all. I was nervous, but I also left way too much to do at the last minute. So much of your home study will be about your personal interview, not how clean your home is. While the safety audit and having your home tidy is important to address, it is vital that you are well rested so you can put your best foot forward. Don’t be like me and leave everything to the last minute. I can still feel the panic and dread I experienced the night before our first home study visit. It is just not worth procrastinating! Gather some help from friends and family and get everything done at least a week prior to your home study. Your goal should be to just have a little last minute tidying the night before so you can get ample rest. Check all of your checklists a few days before and make sure you are completely ready. There is little worse than realizing you are missing a vital piece of documentation at 9 a.m. the day of your home study. Trust me, I know!