So many families I work with are SO nervous about the home study process – what to expect, how many forms to fill out (a lot!!), what will the social worker be looking for, are they judging us, can we fail?  It’s a very, very important piece of the adoption process, and while it’s important to be prepared and to take the process seriously, it’s definitely nothing to fear!
I do home studies in my home state, and I absolutely love doing it. I love helping families through this part of the process, and there’s nothing better than visiting a family for a post-placement visit and meeting the child they prayed, longed, and waited for.

But, I remember the anxiety and nerves that I felt when we first started the adoption process for our first child. I remember our own social worker coming to walk through our house for the first time, and she said, “Don’t worry – I’m not going to walk around with a white glove and touch all the furniture.  I’m just making sure bodies don’t fall out of the closets when I open them.”  We laughed, took a deep breath, and were able to relax.  The home study process is so important.  It’s the social worker’s job to be sure that your home is suitable for a child and that you are prepared to parent and ready to adopt.

I remember, as well, with our first adoption saying things like, “Most parents don’t have to answer these personal questions – they just get pregnant,” or “everyone should have to go through these steps before becoming parents!”  Now that I perform home studies and now that I’m a mom, I completely get it.  The social worker’s job is to protect the child who may be placed with you.  He or she needs to be sure your home is safe because he or she is the representative of your future child.  When I was able to take the focus off of myself and my nerves and remember that it was all about the child and not about me, everything clicked.

Yes, you will be asked personal questions.  You’ll turn over bank statements and tax records and you’ll have to have in-depth conversations about your infertility struggles or your parenting philosophies, your marriage and if you’ve struggled in your marriage, how you plan to discipline and what your childhood was like.  But you will learn SO much about yourself and about your spouse.  You will go into parenthood prepared (as much as possible!) to parent a child who may look different from you.

I always ask during my home studies, “Do you believe the home study process is necessary?  Why or why not?”  I had a family last week respond, “YES!  We’ve learned so much about parenting that we never would have considered.  We didn’t think about needing different soaps and lotions for a child of a different race.  We didn’t think about creating a lifebook to document his/her journey.  We hadn’t considered buying children’s books about adoption and how we would talk about the adoption in our child’s life.”  The home study is for the child, absolutely, but it’s also for you!

I promise that you’ll get so much out of talking through the adoption process, but more importantly from talking through the way you’ll handle situations like having people say, “How much did your daughter cost?” or “What’s her real mom like?” You can never be too prepared and the home study will help you be ready for things like this.  It will help you understand “positive adoption language” and why we say “made an adoption plan” and not “gave up for adoption.”  It will help you be ready not only with a verbal response to invasive questions but it will help you learn that your child is watching your reaction, so your non-verbal responses are just as, if not more, important than your words. I truly believe I’m a better, more equipped parent because of the home study process.

Part of the services we offer at Christian Adoption Consultants is help with finding a good, reputable home study agency.  It’s such an important part of the journey, and it’s so important that you find a good agency and social worker to perform the study.  We work with home study agencies in every single state, and we can help you find a low-cost, efficient agency to perform your home study and help you through this part of the journey.

Yes, I felt SO nervous before I met our social worker for the first time.  But, she taught me so much about myself and about adoption, and even seven years later, we’re still in touch.   The home study is your first active step towards your child!  Embrace it!  Get excited about preparing for your little one, making your home ready for a baby – consider it part of the “nesting” phase for adoptive parents.

If you’ve adopted, were you anxious about the process? What was something that surprised you?  Anything funny happen? 🙂  What did you learn about yourself or your parenting style?

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