This past week was our home study follow-up, since it’s been one year since we officially began our adoption wait. (It’s important for everything to stay up-to-date in the adoption process.) For some reason, I was (unnecessarily) stressed out about it, so I’m relieved it’s over!
If you haven’t been through an adoption, you may be wondering what the heck I’m talking about. If you have been through it, you probably understand why I was a little stressed. The home study is a big deal! Basically, it’s when your caseworker (usually from your adoption agency, but not always) examines the life and home of prospective adoptive parents in order to be sure they are fit to be parents and able to support a child. Your agency will provide a checklist of the documents they need and exactly what they are looking for when they visit your home. (Don’t you know the Type-A personality in me loved having a list to go off of!) When they look through your house, they are primarily checking to be sure the home is safe and reasonably clean, and that the child will have a place of his or her own to sleep (i.e. not just a couch or a closet). Our caseworker, Alisa, is awesome, and we love seeing her! She doesn’t make me nervous at all, it’s really just the preparation required and the importance of this visit that does. In the adoption process, the potential adoptive parents’ lives are laid bare. You are asked questions about every aspect of your life and required to provide pretty much every document related to you and your finances, and on top of that, your caseworker has to go through every room in your house (with you following closely behind, hoping you remembered everything on the checklist!).
There are a couple of ways to look at it, though. I could view it as intrusive and unfair because parents giving birth the “normal” way don’t have to prove that they have fire extinguishers on each floor or plugs in the electrical outlets, OR I could be thankful that they are looking out for the best interest of the child, and at the same time helping prepare us to be parents to an adopted child. I choose the latter. 🙂 And it’s true — I AM thankful that our agency and the government care about our future child’s safety and well-being, and knowing that they will be well taken care of.
SO — if you are preparing for a home study yourself, be ready to talk about your family background, childhood, marriage, and why you want to adopt. Be aware that you’ll have to provide personal references, a credit check, medical records, proof of income, and fingerprints. Go ahead and purchase fire extinguishers, carbon monoxide detectors, outlet plugs, and safety gates (and whatever your agency’s list specifies). There is also usually a portion of the overall adoption fee that is due at the home study, so be prepared for that part, too. But most of all, GET EXCITED, because the home study means you’re that much closer to your baby. And for that reason, I would do a home study again. Every day if I had to.
P.S. If you’d like a little more information on the home study process, here is a great resource. Please also feel free to comment on this post or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you ever have any questions or would like to know more details about any aspect of the adoption process.