My husband and I completed our home study about a month ago. In preparation for the home study, I did what any prospective adoptive mother would do…I cleaned! And then I organized things. And then I cleaned some more. And then I cleaned things no human on Earth would think to clean.
Then it occured to me that I had no idea what would actually happen during the home study. Would the caseworker really inspect the toiletries I had just organized in the baskets in the bathroom? Or would she give us a quiz on how to parent an adopted child? (Oh no. I’ve spent precious time cleaning when I should have been reading the parenting books that are collecting dust! I should at least dust those off!)
I’ll admit that I even Googled “home study.” My search came up with very little information. So I’ll tell you how my home study went. Again, remember that every agency and caseworker might do this differently.
Our home study occurred over two visits. During the first visit, my husband and I chatted with the caseworker for nearly three hours. She asked us questions about how we met, when we got married, when we had our first child, etc. Some of the questions were more in-depth, like what attracted us to each other, how do we communicate, how do we discipline our child, and what are “opportunities for growth” in our marriage. The most difficult questions to answer concisely were about why we chose adoption, how much consideration had we given to adopting a child of another race, and how will we keep our child connected to his or her heritage?
After the interview, the caseworker did a walk-through of our house, barely noticing all those details I had obsessed over. She did check to make sure we had a smoke detector in each bedroom, a fire extinguisher in the kitchen, a first-aid kit, and proper cabinet locks for cleaning supplies.
During our second visit, the caseworker interviewed us separately. She mostly asked us questions about our upbringing and how those things affect our outlook on life now.
What surprised me most about our home study was just how informative this process was! Not only did our caseworker ask us questions, but she also gave us great advice. She pointed out things that we had never considered. One thing I recall specifically was that the world might see our blended family one way, but when our Ethiopian son or daughter goes to school or hangs out with friends, without us, the world may see him or her in a completely different way. That thought never occurred to me…and it reminded me to start reading those adoptive parenting books!
So before you scrub the varnish off your baseboards, here are some tips for your home study:
- Be yourself. Be honest.
- Don’t obsess over the cleaning. Your caseworker isn’t bringing a camera crew.
- Ask questions. She’s there to help you.