The adoption process is a marathon, not a sprint. Each step has its own unique set of challenges and eventual triumphs. Reaching the home study stage is one of those triumphs, but for many, it’s also the point in which dread sets in—the point in which every insecurity tends to come to the forefront. But rest assured, this part of the process is not nearly as complicated as you might think. As you get your house ready, let’s break these 3 myths about home studies:
MYTH: To Pass A Home Study, You Have To Be Rolling In Cash.
Truth: Home Studies Aren’t Focused Solely on Your Finances.
Look around you. Families who give birth to kids range in income from the super wealthy to those in debt. But they still get to be families with kids. Likewise, adoption agencies know that their clients’ incomes will vary. Don’t stress over this. As part of your home study, your agency will have you list your income and assets; do so honestly and discuss how you will financially manage a new child in your household. Perhaps there’s an area of your budget in which your social worker may provide valuable insight that will serve to ease your financial burdens. Remember, while finances are important, the main focus of the home study will revolve around your character, how your upbringing informs your ideas of parenting, and the strengths and dynamics of your relationship with your spouse or partner (if applicable).
MYTH: Your Home Study Will Be On Display For Potential Birth Parents.
TRUTH: Home Studies Aren’t Shown to Expectant Parents.
Everything you share in your home study is entirely confidential, the same way the information you share with your doctor is confidential. Your agency will not show a word of your home study report to the expectant parents who will ultimately view your family profile (the fun, picture-filled document you create yourself) to determine if you might be a good match for their baby. Think of your home study as the stretching and preparation before an athletic competition. It’s designed to help you examine your full selves before you get the chance to sit down with confidence alongside the brave woman who has chosen you to parent her baby.
MYTH: Social Workers Do Home Studies Just So They Can Fail You.
TRUTH: Home Studies Aren’t Meant to Rule You Out.
In my experience, one of the most common fears I’ve heard is that if you don’t have your entire life and household in perfectly squeaky-clean working order, your agency will eliminate you as a prospective adoptive family quicker than a judge on a voice-talent competition show (take your pick of one, I’ve lost count). Families aren’t perfect and your agency doesn’t expect you to be. In the days leading up to our first home study meeting, my wife and I must have scrubbed our entire house free of even the good bacteria. I remember peeling back the shower curtain and telling my social worker to check out her reflection in our bath tub. She laughed and reminded me how unnecessary it was (though I’ll be honest, the tub totally needed the scrubbing regardless). Your social worker will ensure that you have running water, that all the toilets flush, that you have proper smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and that there are no obvious hazards such as exposed wiring or sharp objects at kid-grabbing height. If any issues are noticed, you’ll be asked to take care of them. There’s no three-strikes-you’re-out policy. So, while this whole process is indeed daunting, remember your social worker and your agency are working with you and are on your side. Like you, they want nothing more than to see your family grow plus one when that exciting time comes.