Dear friends, who are in many ways our family here in Montana, had their first Homestudy visit yesterday. In fielding their anxious preparatory questions beforehand, and celebrating with them on the phone afterwards, I kind of relived our own Homestudy experience from a year ago.
A Homestudy is a comprehensive report compiled by a local, licensed social worker after a thorough inspection of a home and series of intensive interviews– a big deal in every adoption journey. Besides the interviews (of each individual in the home– yes, children included) and inspections, families must also provide their social worker with police clearances, medical examinations, personal references, and a several pages long autobiography. The social worker’s job is to determine if a home, and the people who reside inside it, are eligible to adopt (or foster) children. Ours summed it up perfectly, upon her arrival, admitting that we were basically inviting her into our home and paying her to judge us.
I recall being riddled with anxiety for days as ours approached. Committed to complete candor, I worried this would be when we were inevitably informed that we weren’t qualified to be adoptive parents. (Clearly I have rejection issues.) Imagine my great relief when an approachable, non-threatening social worker arrived on our doorstep. She was downright delightful, joining us in a cup of tea (though not in the chicken curry I had prepared, unaware of her vegetarian diet– doh!) and engaging us in pleasant conversation, admitting she too has a past and fair share of quirky relatives.
While there are a couple main check-points they must tick off their list (guns stored in a separate safe than ammunition, fire extinguishers easily accessible, smoke detectors installed and functional, carbon monoxide detector present, cleaning products & medicines safely stored out of the reach of youngsters, etc.) they really focus on the tone of your home. It doesn’t seem they’re assessing your actual abode so much as getting to know the real you.
The best advice I received as we prepared for our own Homestudy I’ll pass along here:
Don’t over clean. If you’re like me, that will go against every fiber of your being. Any perceptive social worker will surely raise an eyebrow if your childrens’ rooms look straight out of a Pottery Barn catalog, probably suspecting you’re a regular Joan Crawford. Check out this hilarious article on the subject.
Food– keep it simple, they probably don’t want to chow down at a stranger’s home while they talk and take notes– something light to nibble on is more than enough. (Fruit, veggies, cookies…)
Be truthful. The whole truth and nothing but the truth. They can probably tell if you’re lying, anyway. Honesty = Best policy.
Bottom line, they are pro-adoption, they want to see kids in forever families. They are not your enemy.
Though I just told you not to sweat the Homestudy, go ahead and celebrate when it’s finished. Take a deep sign of relief. You did it! Your probably have a new friend in your social worker, and you are one step closer to your child(ren).