By Jane Turner
The home study is often one of the first steps families take when they begin their adoption journey. From a broad perspective, the home study can be defined as the approval process and includes both a ton of paperwork as well as a visit to the prospective parent(s) home. While families are usually comfortable with the paperwork process, (although tedious, some liken it to applying for a mortgage) they often feel nervous about the actual visit to their home.
The most important thing to know about the home visit is that it’s an inquiry, not an inquisition. The purpose is to be able to document that your home is a safe place for children.
Every state has a different set of requirements. Illinois families have to be licensed as an approved foster care home. It’s good to read up ahead of time on just what things your home study agency will be looking for. They will be able to guide you to where you can find that information online. It’s also agency and state specific to determine how many visits need to take place in the home and how long your worker will be there. Will the visit be many hours of interviews in the home or a shorter visit focused solely on viewing the home and grounds?
During my own years as a home study worker, I recall so many wonderful visits with hopeful adoptive families. It’s great to spend time with the families in their own surroundings and allow an opportunity for a wonderful window into what it will be like for a child to become part of this family. Families were often nervous when they greeted me at the door, but inevitably, when they said good-bye, they usually did so with a hug and would question what they had been nervous about.
Must your home be spotless? I’d use the home visit as an opportunity to straighten up your home at the same level you would for any guest, but some dust and a stack of papers on an office desk is really the norm. We aren’t looking for perfection.
Should you offer a meal? If your home study worker will be in your home for hours, absolutely! Sometimes they may be in your home for 4-6 hours and they need fuel too. A favorite memory is when I completed the home study of a top sushi chef – memorable, even 20 years later! A least favorite memory is when I was offered nothing to drink or eat, but could smell the aroma of pizza being heated up in the kitchen. Something in between is what usually occurred – lots of memories of a turkey sandwich and maybe a cookie for dessert. ☺
Do you need to alphabetize your spice rack? No! Must Rocky, the Labrador Retriever keep all his tennis balls in the basket in the corner? No!
Should you be nervous? No! Enjoy the opportunity to talk about your lives, your hopes and your dreams with the worker and feel satisfied that you are completing another step in the adoption process.
And no, there is no white glove test.