You have decided to adopt and now face the adoption homestudy. You are nervous about the meeting and wonder if you could “fail” the homestudy. Not sure what they will ask, you are anxious about giving the wrong answer or not knowing an answer.
In fact, the adoption homestudy contains mostly biographical information. In other words, you already know the answers. You will discuss where you grew up, daily life in your family, things you did together, your education and work history, hobbies and interests, etc. If there is more than one household member, the relationship will be explored. You will provide information on your finances, home and community, and be asked for references.
You will be asked about any history of medical or psychiatric illness or counseling. Having been in therapy or receiving psychiatric medication does not prevent you from adopting. Counseling shows your willingness and ability to seek help, when needed. Medication will be assessed as it affects your daily functioning and stability. You will be asked for a letter from the treating therapist or prescribing physician.
You will be asked about drug or alcohol abuse, domestic violence, child or sexual abuse. If there is any history, it will be discussed as it related to your upbringing, adult years, coping skills and ability and readiness to meet a child’s needs. Children and adults can go through tough times. Most overcome their past and live stable and secure lives. It is important when raising children, to be sure you have dealt with all issues in your own background that could affect your parenting skills and attachment.
Child abuse and criminal history checks are done for the homestudy. You should disclose any arrest, even if under age or if charges were dropped or expunged. If you withhold information, and it comes back in the clearance, it could result in your not being approved. Many homestudy preparers assume if you are dishonest about one area of your life, you may be withholding other information and, therefore, hesitant to approve you. If it is a “disqualifying” charge, you might as well know up front.
There will be a discussion on why you have chosen to adopt and what you know about the process and adoptive parenting. This is one are where you can do some reading, Internet research or talk to other adoptive parents. In fact, some homestudy processes include required adoptive parent educational training. You should know how you will discipline your child and how you will share their adoption with them as they grow. The discussion will also include the type of adoption process you have chosen and the type of child(ren) you hope to adopt.
If you think there is an issue that might prevent you from being approved—ask BEFORE the adoption homestudy visit is scheduled. Some wonder about a past arrest, period of unemployment, counseling, past or present illness or medication, weight, looks, size of their home, etc. Better to know at the start than begin the process and be stopped along the way.
What to do the day of the home visit?
Make a pot of coffee or tea (or have a selection of cold beverages, if it’s a hot day) and set out a plate of cookies, cheese and crackers, fruit (or a time appropriate snack).
Try to be yourself. Remember why you are doing the homestudy—to make your dream come true. If you are really nervous, share that with the social worker so there is no confusion about your anxiety.
The homestudy is an assessment of you and your family as it relates to the adoption and rearing of a child. The social worker is there to gather information and educate you on adoption and adoptive parenting.
Seeing the homestudy as the start of the process to make your dreams come true will allow you to enjoy the experience and to create a relationship with the social worker as an advocate for you during the adoption process as well as during the adjustment to a new child in the family.