The Home Study! The most dreaded step in becoming a foster or adoptive parent is now on your schedule. It seems like an overwhelming task to complete. Just the paperwork folder alone is enough to send many would-be fosters out the door.
Stop the dread and just get it done! Yes, it can be a daunting task to complete and collect the paperwork, but once you get through it, you will be done.
One step of the process is the never ending forms. Though intimidating, most of the paperwork is signing your name and filling out names and addresses. Grab your address book, text your friends for their addresses and plow through this step as quickly as you can.
Another important step is the long list of verifications. This is the part where you prove who you are and what you have. I always tell families when I come to do their home study, that the state wants to know everything about you from the water you drink to your social security number to your criminal history.
Don’t sweat the background check. As long as you are free from anything aside from traffic tickets, you have nothing to fear. If you have any criminal history involving children, you will not likely be selected as a foster parent.
Make sure that all your verifications are current and not expiring. This will only delay the process if you give the writer an expired registration or pet vaccination. You will likely need a decent photo of your family and possibly your home and pets. Find out what is needed and have those printed and ready. You will not need a professional photo; just a decent shot. Most phones are capable of good photos.
Be sure to have copies of everything to send with the writer. They do not need to SEE them, they need to put a copy in your file. I suggest collecting everything that needs copied and taking it all at once to be copied if you do not have a printer.
The interview! Now someone is going to come into your home, ask lots of questions and look in your closets.
The personal interview is actually quite simple. I tell my families that I am “writing the story of you”. This portion will involve answering questions about your past and present. The writer will be gathering all the information needed to present you as a stable and qualified individual. Each writer is different and will ask different questions, though they will all have a basic agenda to follow.
Clean your closets and put your best foot forward. Yes, the writer may look in your closet, but they are not looking for a super organized space. They are only looking to assure there are not hidden dangers. Each state or agency will have a list of what they expect from you and your home. You should be given this in advance so you can prepare ahead of time.
You do not need to have an immaculate home; however, keep in mind that you ARE making a first impression. Writers are going to be making a recommendation regarding your home and family. The writer should feel comfortable and welcomed in your home. Give the impression that you prepared for their arrival, not that they caught you running out the door on a busy day.
Most items on the list will be connected to child safety. There may be rules on how to store guns, medications and cleaners. Some may want your televisions mounted and safety plugs in your outlets. Work through that list and assure that everything is in compliance.
If you have children, prepare them to be polite and responsive to the writer. Usually, the children’s interview is quite simple. The writer is looking to see that the children are happy, healthy and emotionally ready to foster/adopt.
You are now ready for the home study. Relax! Be open and honest!