When you’re looking to adopt, a home visit can be one of the most stressful parts of the process. After all, you know that you have all you need to provide for a child, but now you essentially have to prove that to a stranger who will examine all aspects of your life and home to determine if you and your spouse are suitable adoptive parents.
That’s a lot of pressure, but knowing what to expect along with a bit of preparation can go a long way to easing your anxiety about this momentous occasion.
First, realize that the social worker isn’t trying to find fault. He or she simply wants to get to know your family better. In order to make the adoption arrangement work for everyone involved, the adoption agency needs reassurances that you have the ability to be an adoptive parent and will provide a proper home. The requirements are based on whether you are applying for a domestic or international adoption, but generally include the social worker making some observations to ensure that the home environment will be safe and comfortable for a child.
The home visit is different from the home study, which takes anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months to complete. A home visit is only one piece of the puzzle in the adoption approval process. When complete, it will be part of a multi-page document that determines final approval.
Here are a few tips to prepare ahead of your home study visit:
- Gather all the necessary documents. You’ll likely need:
- Birth certificates/adoption decrees for you, your spouse and any children in your home
- Marriage certificate
- Employment and income verification
- Proof of insurance, including life, home and health
- Verification of monetary assets and details on debt, like mortgage/rent, car loans, college student loans and credit card balances
- Have a discussion with your spouse about the kind of relationship you would like to have with the child’s birth parents.
- Clean your home, but don’t remodel.
- Replenish, replace or check safety supplies, like fire and carbon monoxide detectors, swimming pool alarms, firearms storage and locks and fire extinguishers.
- Prepare the child’s room. The social worker needs to know there will be space for a child.
- If you are planning to adopt an infant or toddler, baby proof your home and lock up common poison concerns, like household cleaners.
- Repair fencing outside and prepare your backyard for a child.
A home study will include interviews with you and your spouse together and separately, so you want to be on the same page when it comes to a gender preference, whether or not you would like to care for a special needs child, what your parenting styles are and other issues. If you have children or another adult living in the home, such as an older child or parent, they will also be interviewed.