Starting the home study process can be very overwhelming at first. There are a lot of steps to complete and the thought of someone coming into your home to evaluate your lifestyle and living environment can be scary. But I’m here to tell you to relax and that it really isn’t as stressful as you may think!
(Keep in mind that the tasks/paper work you do for your home study may vary slightly, but this will help you get a basic idea of what to expect)
What to do to prepare for your home study:
- Fill out quite a bit of paperwork, which I will explain more later on.
- Get reference letters. We were asked to get four letters from non-family members and one from a family member, that we had known for at least one year. When picking these people make sure they are people who know both of you really well. Everyone that we asked were very excited and supportive about it. We also really appreciated that everyone was quick to complete their letter. In our case our references sent their letters by mail, because they needed original signatures on them. To help make the process easier for our references, we wrote the address on an envelope and included a stamp.
- Background check. This did cost a small amount. This included getting fingerprints done and filling out paperwork.
- Child abuse registry check. For this one we filled out some paperwork and paid a small fee.
- Medical physical. This is just a check up to make sure you don’t have any major illnesses or health concerns.
I would suggest getting these items scheduled as soon as possible. Some items will take longer than others. For example: we waited a few weeks for a physical, because they were only available at certain times that were hard for my husband’s work schedule. We also had to wait a couple of weeks to get in for a background check.
Home Study Paperwork
Now let’s talk about the paperwork. It really isn’t that bad once you start working on it and get organized.
Here are the home study forms we completed:
- Application: This was a simple form where we filled out basic information about ourselves and the kind of home study we needed. For example-domestic/international, private/agency, etc.
- Employment verification: Our employers had to fill out and sign a form, verifying that we had reliable income.
- Financial statement: This form asked about our assets, monthly income and liabilities.
- Preferences: We filled out information asking about our preferences for a child. For example-race/ethnicity, age, open/closed adoption, potential disabilities/exposure to drugs, etc.
- Study Template: This was a long template to complete about us. It was all about our lifestyle and personalities. We filled out information about our relationship/marriage, jobs, hobbies, extended families, neighborhood/town, our health, religion, parenting style, etc. This form took the longest to fill out, but it helped us be prepared for questions during the actual home study. We already knew what to expect and were on the same page.
Here are the documents they needed copies of:
- Birth certificates
- Marriage licence
- Medical insurance
- Tax returns
How long did it take to complete everything?
It only took us a month. We committed to the process and worked hard to get it done as quickly as possible. I believe this made the experience easier for us.
But, it is up to you on how long you take to do it! It can take a couple weeks or it could take you six months. You can always set up a schedule and create goals for yourself to help you stay on track.
What happens when you have the actual meeting in your home?
At the in home meeting, you will be asked questions. The questions we answered were similar to what was on our home study template. (See above for examples.) Then have a short walk through of your home.
I believe this is the part most people stress about, including me. I get stressed when a friend/family member is coming over last minute and I have dishes in the sink-I love having a clean house! So I get it. No one likes anyone poking around in their personal space.
Clean your house-but don’t clean your house. If you know what I mean.The purpose of the walk through is not to check if your house is perfectly clean, but that your home is a safe environment for a child to be raised in.
Your home does not need to be completely child proofed. (Unless you are specifically asked to do so.) We were asked to have a plan for what we will do in the future as the child grows older. For example, that we will be putting up a baby gate on the stairs when our child starts to walk and that the medicine cabinet will have a child proof lock.
And that’s about it! A few weeks later our home study was officially approved!
If you have any questions or want to learn more about the home study process, feel free to reach out/comment! I love answering your questions!