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I'm Jessica (my friends call me Breezy) and I am a photographer serving the Sioux City area.
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If you are not yet familiar with the lingo related to adoption, a home study is “an assessment of prospective adoptive parents to see if they are suitable for adopting a child.”
Right now, I am wishing I would have looked up this definition before our actual meeting with the social worker, because I did not have the right understanding and therefore feel like I prepared for the wrong aspects of the process. So, here is what I learned about how not to prepare for your home study.
I heard the term “home study” and I assumed a social worker wanted to evaluate the safety and status of our home. Now, the process for fostering children, from my understanding, is much different than the process for domestic adoption. But during our meeting, an inspection of the physical home took up the shortest amount of time. I believe we sat down with the social worker for almost two and a half hours, and the walk through of the house took between 15 and 20 minutes.
Now, don’t brush this off completely during your journey to domestic adoption, because safety and appearance of the home is obviously a factor. Mostly they will look for smoke detectors on each level near bedroom doors, and ensure general safety and cleanliness. The biggest issue for us was showing the firearms to be securely locked as well as stored separately from the ammunition. So, learn from me and don’t look at this as someone coming into your home and judging you and giving it the “white glove inspection.” Keep the home the normal level of clean, but do not spend two full days scrubbing random cabinet corners and fretting about knick-knack placement!
Instead, focus on preparing yourself for some hard hitting questions. Now, when people say that a home study will push into the “deepest, darkest corners of your life,” I am not sure I would agree with that. But the conversation did bring up a certain level of discomfort and anxiety for me. I did not prepare myself well for how I would respond to certain questions, and because of this I became frazzled and tended to ramble and overshare.
Remember that your social worker is going to take note of and summarize every detail that you choose to share. If you say it, it gets written down. I am not saying this so that you’ll lie or not disclose certain things. I am saying this because if you’re anything like me, when you’re nervous (and you will be), you’ll just fire off ideas before thinking them through and then choose words that don’t relay what you are actually trying to communicate.
Here is what I wish I would have done: gotten my hands on some “sample interview topics” and journaled about or practiced how I was going to respond. When our social worker looked at me and said “describe your childhood, starting from your earliest memories all the way to the time you met Jason,” I drew a complete blank and probably looked like an airhead! These are some topics that our home study covered:
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