Your Life as an Open Book
At probably no other time in your life will you be asked as many nosy questions as you will during a home study (indeed, some of the questions might be illegal if they were asked at a job interview). Aside from the usual education and employment queries, you will be asked about your financial status and family background (even sometimes about how you were disciplined as a child), as well as your current relationships with your parents and siblings. You’ll be asked about your relationship with your spouse or partner; your daily routines, hobbies and interests; the neighborhood you live in; your religious upbringing and practices; you may even be asked about how you plan to discipline your children. Not surprisingly, you’ll also probably be asked about how you view adoption, how you’ll talk to your child about it, and what kind of relationship you’d like to have with the birth mother or family.
Some of these questions can be helpful, since they get you to think about things you may not have thought about before (but should have). But other times they can just seem invasive. Lisa Frye (not her real name), a 33-year-old teacher in Glendale, California, has gone through the process twice—once for each of her children. While she understands the need for openness, she admits she couldn’t help feeling a little resentful. “Some questions seemed a little ridiculous,” says Frye. “What is knowing how my parents treated me and who I turned to more, my mother or my father, going to say about me?”
Whether you like the questions or not, it’s important to be honest, even if you’re embarrassed about your answers. “Anyone who is doing a home study realizes that people have ups and downs in their lives. The bigger question is how the person has handled it and where they are now,” says Freundlich. “It’s better, for example, to admit that you’ve been divorced twice and talk it through than to hold back. Lack of honesty about these issues can be viewed as a red flag.”
Homing in on Your Home
The home visit is probably the most nerve-wracking part of the home study, but at least people don’t just drop in on you unannounced; the visit is scheduled. And by all accounts, you won’t be judged on superficialities. Your social worker, for instance, won’t grade you on your interior decorating skills and isn’t going to pull out the white gloves to check for dust, literally or metaphorically.
“I never looked at housekeeping—I wouldn’t hold myself up as a paragon of housekeeping,” says Barb Holtan, project director of The Collaboration to AdoptUsKids, a federally funded effort to find families for the 115,000 children waiting in the country’s foster care system. “You’re looking to see, how would a child live here? Is there enough room? Is it safe?” Holtan, who conducted home studies for 20 years, has three adopted children and, consequently, has been through three home studies herself, is an expert from both sides of the process.
In anticipation of my home visit, my husband and I naturally spruced up our place, but we didn’t babyproof the house (in fact, I was so fearful of disappointment that I didn’t so much as buy a diaper in preparation for our daughter). It turns out that the babyproofing wasn’t necessary for our home visit, but expectations for Lisa Frye and her husband were different. Their agency required that their home be babyproofed in advance; the agency also wouldn’t sign off on the home study until the Fryes got a fire extinguisher. The message: You can save yourself a lot of time if you find out exactly what your agency expects before your social worker comes calling.
Do's and Dont's of Preparing For An Adoption Home Study|
Your Life as an Open Book
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