Monday, January 7, 2013

The Dreaded Homestudy

Maybe you are new to Foster Care or Adoption, maybe you have been around a long time, but what you have probably realized by now is that if you want to foster or adopt, there is a certain approval process that you have to go through.

This process is called the homestudy, and I know a lot of people get freaked out about it. I'm here to dispel some rumors based on what we learned through the whole process.

First of all, it's not super scary. It's not the end of the world.

Is it time consuming to fill out a crap ton of paperwork? Yes. Is it inconvenient to have someone come to your house a bunch of times and ask you questions about your whole life and your philosophies on parenting? Absolutely. But, it's worth it.

So, what exactly is a homestudy?

I'm so glad you asked. :) A homestudy is basically what it sounds like; a study of your home. A social worker will come to your house several times over the course of a few weeks/months, and they will talk to you about the adoption/foster care process and collect some information from you.

Basically, they want to know:

  • Is your home safe for a child? If not, they give you a list of things you can do to make it safe and they expect you to do those things. This includes locking up medications, firearms, and putting a fence around pools. This also includes getting working smoke detectors for every room of the house.
  • Why you want to foster/adopt. There isn't one answer they are looking for, but there are definitely some answers you don't want to give. Example, don't tell them you are collecting children or you need little helpers so you don't have to mow your own grass. 
  •  What your financial situation looks like. It's different for every state, but in my state you basically have to show that you can make it from month to month and that you aren't on welfare. If you are getting a homestudy for international adoption it's different, and you might have to prove that you make a certain amount of money, but in order to do foster care in my state there is no minimum income requirement. You just have to show that what you have coming in is more than what you have going to bills.
  • Do you have room for the child/children? You don't have to have the kids bedroom finished before the homestudy process is started, although they do like for you to have it finished before you are through with the homestudy (at least if you are doing foster care, because you might start getting calls about placements as soon as you are approved).
As far as the actual home inspection, it's pretty quick and easy here. In some states you might have to pass a fire inspection, show that you can physically open all the windows, and that kind of stuff. Here, we just had to lock up all of our medicines, put outlet covers in the outlets (this is only if you are getting approved for younger kids) and lock  up our firearms. Guns have to be locked up and have trigger locks on, and ammo has to be locked up in a separate place.

Documents that you will need to gather include:
  • Copies of licenses (drivers license, handgun carry permits, etc.)
  • Copies of a physical exam from your doctor
  • Proof of car and home insurance
  • Letters of recommendation from friends and family (our caseworker did this part for us)
  • A map of your house that shows exit routes in case of emergency (this can be hand-drawn)
  •  A ton of signed papers showing that you read the Dept. of Child Services' policies on giving medicines, discipline, and a whole bunch of other stuff.
Honestly, if getting a homestudy done is what is holding you back from foster care/ adoption, don't let it be!  We loved our homestudy writer and she really helped us out by answering all of our questions about the process and by explaining what to expect. Your house doesn't have to be perfect, although you might not wanna have mice or roaches running around clear out the clutter a little. ;) All in all, it was a good experience for us, and even if it can be a little inconvenient, the purpose of a homestudy is to make sure that you are ready to have a child placed with you. I promise it isn't all that bad.

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