An adoption home study is the final task you have to check off in order to start the adoption waiting game. Honestly, it might feel like one big hurdle if you don't now what you're in for. Luckily, I've been through it and am ready to share the things no one tells you about adoption home studies, so you can get ready to tackle that final task.
The good news is that going through an adoption home study isn't difficult. It's time consuming and can be mentally exhausting, but I found some of the other paperwork tasks, like getting our city's fire inspector to come to our home, much more difficult. For a home study, you'll likely clean your house pretty well and then sit around answering a whole lot of questions for several hours.
The other good news about adoption home studies is that they actually can be an interesting way to process with your partner how you're planning to parent and help you answer some questions about your parenting style that might come in handy with your adopted kiddos later. If you already have biological children, you've probably already answered those questions the hard way, but for us, with no kids at home yet, it was interesting to get to know a few more details about each others' childhoods and desires for our family that we didn't know before.
Home Studies Can Take A While
Home studies can take several hours, or even longer sometimes if you have older children who need to be interviewed. Ours took about four hours, and involved a (very) short walk around our (very small) apartment. Most families I know who have done home studies have blocked out a whole day to complete it. If you're finished early, an ice cream date will most certainly be in order.
They Can Be Expensive
Depending on your agency, your home study can range from $800 to $3,000. Our agency had a scholarship for families to complete home studies who weren't in a position to outlay that kind of cash, which would be a huge blessing to getting into the adoption or fostering arena.
There Might Be Follow-Up Questions
Once the social workers have come and asked you everything you could imagine about your childhood, how you were disciplined growing up, how you deal with emotions, whether you've ever married before, and on and on, they might still have follow-up questions. Follow-up questions will likely be done on the phone in the week or two after the home study.
You'll Have To Do Them Separately And Together
If you plan on parenting with a partner, you'll both be interviewed separately as well as together. For ours, the person not being interviewed would just take a walk or go to a coffee shop around the corner to wait.
Older Kids Will Be Interviewed
If you have children who are old enough to talk, they will also be interviewed. You can be present for this, but they will ask your children to answer for themselves if possible. From all accounts I've heard, the questions are more about their understanding of adoption or fostering, and whether you've talked about what's about to happen with them and how prepared they feel.
They're Kind Of Awkward
Home study interviews can be awkward. They might ask you about your sex life or infertility treatments you've undergone. They might ask about your childhood and any mental illness that might run in your family or affect you. Try to remember that they've likely heard way weirder and worse than your story, but legally, they are required to get the fullest picture of how you are or would be as parents to a child they placed in your care.
They're Definitely Emotional
I cried no fewer than seven times during our home study. I just found it so emotional to be talking about how we would like to parent after years of wishing it would finally happen. Talking about our dreams for our family and our future children made everything seem a little bit more real.
They're Totally Exhausting
All that talking about yourself is exhausting. Plan for a nap after and a treat, at the very least.
You Won't Be Approved Instantly
When the social workers leave your home after your home study, you won't be approved right that minute. The social workers have to go back to their office and write up everything they learned about you over the course of all those hours you spent talking. They fill out necessary forms and this can take a few weeks to complete, especially if they're with a busy agency. Once they don't have any additional questions, you'll get notice that you're home study approved typically a few weeks later!
They're Totally Worth It
We're about to undergo another home study in order to move agencies, and while the thought is a little daunting, we already know that we'd do a home study once a week in order to have our daughter in our lives. Well, that might be pushing it, but you know what I mean. Just think of your home study as the last hurdle before you can truly start waiting for your child to come home.