When you're preparing to adopt, the thought of a social worker visiting your home to inspect it for the adoption home study can feel daunting. You can manage the visit with less stress if you first educate yourself and prepare. The social worker is doing a “people study,” and part of that is to see where and how you live. They are not looking for a perfect model home, but one where a child will be safe and clean.
These tips on home study preparation were excerpted from my book, Called to Adoption:
"You may wish to plan to have refreshments to offer your social worker so the appointment feels more like a visit and less like an interview. Set the date and time for your visit and confirm the day before the appointment. If you have young children, be sure they are fed and rested prior to the visit, or even put them down for a nap before the appointed time. Be sure that you are also fed and rested, as the interview may be a few hours.
Clean and tidy your home the day before, picking up any items in your yard that are out of place. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but presenting a home that is clean and neat is important. Your preparation is a good time to discover little changes or adaptations your home could use for a new child, such as minimizing clutter, reorganizing, or making your home more child friendly.
If you have pets, have them fed and put in their area to avoid distraction. They will need to be current on required vaccinations, and you may need to provide documentation as validation.
If you have been asked to complete or submit documents, be sure they are copied and clearly labeled. Similarly, if you have been given a list of topics that will be discussed, come prepared to the discussion. You will need to have ready answers to questions like: who will care for your child should something happen to you, how you plan to discipline your child, and other topics relating to parenting. If you are not a parent yet, these may not be topics you and your spouse have discussed, so some time spent in preparation may be well served.
When we were preparing for our first home study visit, I cleaned our condominium like I was expecting the queen! I was almost disappointed when our social worker didn’t open the perfectly organized closets or check for dirt under the refrigerator. I had the house absolutely spotless, only to learn later that it wasn’t a “white glove test” of our home.
One helpful thing we did to prepare for the interview was to casually discuss future decisions we’d have to make. We talked about childcare while we took our evening walk. We discussed child-rearing over dinner. We didn’t stress about it, but rather, took time to come together about how we wanted to raise our family. If you haven’t given these topics a lot of thought, don’t worry. No one expects you to have all the answers, but it is a good opportunity to begin to prepare for parenthood."