Having a home study probably makes most first time adoptive parents a little nervous, and just like most, we were a little nervous about what to expect. Our agency gave us some great advice to make sure we had our home prepared and to simply be ourselves. We were probably a little over prepared for the home inspection – I was sure they would be looking through drawers, so I had every drawer in the house organized! Besides the inspection, most of the home study consisted of questions and us sharing our about lives.
We are so excited to have our home study completed and to be this far in the process of adopting through foster care. I thought I would share with you some of the myths and truths we learned during the home study process.
Myths and Truths We Learned During the Home Study Process
1. When they say it takes at least 5 – 6 hours to complete the home study, it REALLY does!
I couldn’t imagine why it would take that long, and since we were prepared, I thought we might be able to cut that time down at least a little… We started at 12:30 pm and didn’t finish until close to 7:00 pm! AND – we took only a couple very short breaks, so it truly did take that amount of time.
2. Home studies are NOT a white glove inspection.
I was nervous that our house would be inspected top to bottom, and every flaw would be discovered. The home inspection part only lasted about 30 minutes, and it certainly wasn’t anything I should have been stressed over. We followed the checklists the agency provided on how our home should be prepared, and were in great shape. And – they did NOT go through every drawer. Part of me wanted to open some drawers just so she could see my nicely organized drawers! Hah!
3. All the questions ARE really necessary.
At first, I wasn’t sure of the purpose of all the different questions, abut when you think of the home study as a complete representation of your family and ability to care for children, we need as much information about us in the report as possible. When being matched, the agency sends in the home study report to Child Protective Services (or other private agency) for evaluation and pairing of children who match with the qualities and care your family is able to provide. Your adoption representative may contact you when they have found a match to see if you are interested in submitting your home study, or you can also choose to submit your home study for children you learn about (through the state website or otherwise). Other agencies will also be sending home studies of their families who are also interested in the same children. All families are considered and narrowed down to two top candidates. This is when the adoption committee consisting of CPS agents, advocates, counselors and the like will meet to discuss their preferred family. It helps CPS to have plenty of information to make a fair assessment and judgment on which family is best suited for the children they are placing and the family they are matching.
4. The purpose of a home study is not to be invasive.
The home study writer does have to ask some questions that might be uncomfortable for some since they are very personal in nature. Our agency mentioned several times for us to be prepared for this. (I’m not sure what I was preparing myself for, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I had imagined.) She asked questions about our childhoods, families, lifestyle, history working with children, history of abuse or neglect in our childhood, personal finances, careers, family and work schedules, dreams and goals for the future, expectations and how we will for the children we adopt, how we will deal with certain behaviors, and profile questions about the children we are comfortable adopting (questions relating to behavior, medical needs, academic needs, culture, age, gender, etc.).
5. It is important to speak up and share – MORE is better.
One home study writer complimented us on the detailed information we were able to share throughout our time together. She took nearly a full legal pad of notes during our visit, but she did mention that some families are more difficult to represent, especially when they have short and almost “stock” answers for some of the questions she has to ask. We shared lots of stories and details of how God worked in our life and offered our reasoning behind our answers for most questions, and she appreciated our thorough responses.
ONE EXTRA TIP:
If possible, ask for home study questions ahead of time. We ended up switching to work directly with DFPS (Texas CPS) rather than going through an agency which meant we had to have another home study. Oh geez!! We begged for them to accept the one we just spent forever doing, but they wanted their own study completed instead. Our DFPS agent suggested she send us a document with most of the home study questions to us to complete ahead of time. She said it would make the home study process faster (especially since our first one took 7 hours to complete!). Let me warn you – the document was LONG… SUPER LONG, like 29 pages of questions long. It took us several days to fill out, but we worked together and made sure we had thorough answers (not just those two word answers that teachers always hate). It felt like forever to complete, BUT – when our home study writer came to our house, she said that our time would be short since we did such a great job on providing thorough answers to the questions ahead of time. She stayed about 15 minutes! I can’t tell you what a relief we felt. Although it was really long to type out all our answers, it was a lot easier to write them out on our own time than to sit through many hours of answering questions all at once. By the way, our home study writer said that many people who get the questions ahead of time don’t bother filling them out or have such short answers which weren’t beneficial anyway… If at all possible, I would highly recommend asking for the home study questions ahead of time and taking the time to complete the questions thoroughly.
If you are preparing for a home study, don’t sweat it! The best advice truly is – be prepared but also remember to just be yourself!