So you’ve made it to the homestudy. Congratulations! Are you nervous, scared even? Don’t be! You’ll do just fine. The home study seems a lot more daunting than it actually is. Yes, I know a person is coming into your home to look around, take notes and grill you on some tough questions. She (I am going to use ‘she’ for sake of ease, since it’s mostly women, but I am fully aware that men are home study writers as well, so please don’t get upset with me!) is going to talk to you at length, over several meetings, and basically, judge you. You will be asked extremely personal questions, like “How satisfying is your sex life”? You will be challenged to make some hard choices about ‘who’ you want to adopt, and the writer will give her opinion on those choices in her write up. BUT it really does sound worse than it actually is.
Everyone’s experience with their homestudy is completely different but here are some tips we learned from ours.
1)Don’t fret over how clean the house looks. Yes, of course, you want a clean house, but they are not there to critique your housekeeping skills. Worry more about how your house feels! It should be inviting and safe for children. So, you know, maybe make sure your samurai sword collection is hung properly and out of children’s reach, things like that! You don’t need to completely baby-proof your whole house, just for the home study, but be able to show that you understand what needs to be done to have a safe home. Likewise, you don’t need to stage your home to make an impression. In fact, they will see through it, it’s what they are trained for. I have textbooks about serial killers and psychopaths on my shelf from university. I also love to read horror so among the Shakespeare and other classics you will find books about zombies, vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and the supernatural. We also have some zombie and comic art on the walls. I briefly wondered if I should hide it all, I mean, what would our writer think about me? But decided not to. Non of it is inappropriate or covering every wall of our house, just one bookshelf with all my old text books on it, and a few pieces of art here and there. This is who we are. When I mentioned my fear to the writer, after we were all done, she laughed and said she has a few of the same textbooks and novels, and thought the art was awesome! Just use common sense when you are trying to get your house ready.
2) Talk to your partner. You are going to be asked a lot of questions (yes, the satisfying sex life question was really asked) so you should, at least, have a conversation and try to be on the same page about most things. I say most, because your writer will also see right through your plans to just agree about everything. The point isn’t to agree about everything, but rather, to show that you have talked about it and know how each other feels. Most couples don’t agree about everything, and it’s perfectly fine to show those disagreements, in fact, I encourage it. It’s important for the writer to see how you handle those situations. If your writer feels you don’t have very good communication, she may recommend you to take some time off of the homestudy to chat, or maybe some counselling to help you engage in conversations and open up to each other. There are a few ways that your writer will be able to tell how well you communicate and it’s often hard to fake it, so do yourselves a favour and just TALK! Talk about adoption, life goals, your past, your family, anything really.
3)Be honest. I know I shouldn’t have to say this, but lets face it, in situations like this, we all want to give ourselves the best spin, paint the best picture. It’s natural to want to highlight all your best ‘features’ and downplay the rest, but in this case, it’s better to be honest about it all. Don’t think of this as a job interview. You’ve already been hired, now they are just trying to find the best position for you. While, yes, it is true that some people may fail the homestudy, if you’ve made it this far into the process it is often just a matter of fine tuning things. The more honest you can be about yourselves, the better the homestudy writer can help you. After doing their homestudy, friends of ours were told that their writer felt they weren’t quite done the process of grieving their infertility. She recommended some counselling. Once that was done, she came back to evaluate and they went on to have a very successful adoption. At first it must have felt like a fail, but they did what was necessary and were able to move on. Everyone has skeletons in their closet, and things they need to work on. The writer needs to be able to evaluate all of these so they can point you in the right direction, before you end up being placed with a child who cannot handle your skeletons, or you realize, too late, that you can’t handle them with a child in tow.
4)Be yourselves. I guess this is sort of the same as all of the above, but it’s worth mentioning again. In order to be matched with the right children, they need to know WHO YOU ARE, not who you think you should be, or who you want to be, or even who Facebook/Pinterest/society tells you you ought to be. If you are a perfectionist who cannot tolerate mess, loud noises or spontaneity, then they need to see that. Why? Because some children are perfectly suited to that environment and some aren’t. If you are always on the go and spontaneous, they need to know, because, again, some kids are well suited that lifestyle and others just aren’t. The writer may not like the same things you like, so don’t try to please them. Just be yourself and let the writer evaluate your preparedness to bring children into your home and help you figure out which children will fit the best.
5) RELAX! Yes, easier said than done, I know. I get it, I really do, but instead of worrying about everything, just try to focus on the important parts. An immaculately clean house is not as important as a safe house. Reading all the books and knowing all the latest research is not as important and taking the time to chat with your partner to make sure you have similar expectations and hopes for your new family. Having Pinterest-perfect hors d’oeuvres and refreshments is not as important as, well, it’s just not important at all… skip this step all together! Your writer will be very open with you about her thoughts and will let you know if she thinks you need to work on something, so take her lead, and relax about everything else.
6) Be Yourself. Did I say this one already, yes? Well, it’s just that important! Be yourself 🙂
Thanks so much for reading, and like always, if you have any questions or stories of your own, you’d like to share, leave me a comment!
I’m Happy, I’m Healthy, I’m anxiously waiting for the boys! Take care everyone 🙂