By THERESA DAVIS
On the road to adopting or fostering a child is the home study. You may be wondering: Are they going to study our home? Are they going to study us? Is this a test? The answer is sort of, and yes this does include a small amount of judgment. I’m going to let you panic; just don’t overdo it.
Think about it, people need to live in a clean, safe environment. If your home is not, then placement won’t be recommended. That being said, be yourself.
If you present a home straight out of a magazine, you will be causing yourself and everyone else stress by constantly trying to keep it that way. Most agencies know you want to make a good impression. (I cleaned everything including the dog before our home study.) They also know fostering and adoption is stressful, so a sink full of dishes won’t concern them. (If you’re fostering, I promise your county worker has seen much worse.)
The home study agent will look for cleanliness and safety. They will look at the room your child will be living in. If they need to share a room with other children, then be aware that boys need to share with boys and girls with girls. Especially if your placement has been sexually abused. They will look at where you keep cleaning products, chemicals and medications.
If you own a gun, you need to show them where and how it is kept, as well as the ammunition. If it’s not typically locked you will need to lock it now.
Other things that will be looked at are potential fire hazards and making sure there are clear pathways to every exit in the home, and that fire and carbon monoxide alarms work. Having a fire extinguisher helps, too. If you’re fostering, I believe they’re required.
Home studies can also determine placement. Are you a neat freak? Are you strict about raising a child or relaxed? What rules are 100 percent unbendable? Are you a loud and rowdy crowd or more quiet? Nothing wrong with any of that, it just would be hard to put a quiet shy child into a loud household. What activities do you do as a family? Are you outdoor adventurers or games and movies at home folks? If sports are a favorite, then a less coordinated child would have difficulty trying to fit in with you.
So be yourself! Don’t change who you are just to get a child, because then it might jeopardize the placement and it may not work out. It might take some time, but the right child will come to you. So let your home study agent judge away! And leave the crumbs on the couch.