The effort it was taking to finally get the vibrations in my throat to come out as audible words made my stomach all the more nauseous. Air compressed by the lump in my throat made it hard to breathe. I prayed that she couldn’t hear my heart pounding out of my chest or reach to shake my clammy hands. I was not a contestant in a beauty pageant, but I felt a little bit like at any moment her request for my solo act would be made.
Her perceptions would decide the future for my family. What if we did not meet her expectations? The adoption home study had my husband and I sweating bullets. It didn’t matter how ready we were to become adoptive parents, how prepared we felt, or even how much we had prayed for this opportunity; the case worker standing in our foyer with her clipboard and pen in hand would be the ultimate judge to pronounce our fate.
Every state requires a home study to be able to adopt. You are even obligated to have one for international adoptions. So as anxious as we felt, this process was necessary to continue our adoption journey. To get things started, we completed some very detailed questions for our home study provider. The case worker would compile all of our information before coming to our house. Part of her preparations included reading over our responses and gathering personal information about our family. She received copies of our birth certificates and marriage certificate as well as letters of reference from friends and family attesting to our character and ability to step into the role of adoptive parent.
Our responsibilities began with a background check. We completed a state and federal background check for my husband and I, fingerprints and all. Along with any basic crimes, our past would be extensively researched for any cases of child abuse, neglect, violence, and domestic issues.
We were given a bulky packet from our home study provider that included what we would need to provide to them in advance and what questions Brannon and I would need to complete. Adoption loves babies but loathes trees. The amount of paperwork involved can be overwhelming. The questions we answered took us back to our childhood, examined the present, and combed through everything in between. We described the home life in which we were raised as well as what the home would look like that we would provide for the prospective adopted baby. What type of relationships do we have with each other? Our parents? Siblings? Friends? Is our marriage solid? How do we handle conflict? How would we choose to discipline our children? How do we as husband and wife describe one another? We spent many nights compiling our thoughts and carefully choosing what the application would say.
Our packet would also include financial statements and a letter from our bank to ensure we were in good standing. We completed a household budget with all of our expenses and debt. We also responded with how we would raise funds to pay for the cost of an adoption.
Blood was drawn, urine was tested and a physical exam given by our doctor. The home study provider’s requests also included these tests and a letter from each family member’s doctor to confirm no health risks that would hinder our abilities as parents or bring unsolicited harm in any way to an adoptive child.
Once we had every i dotted and t crossed, the home study worker was actually ready to come into our home. This is when the heart palpitations started. We were given a list of some of the things our case worker would be expecting on her visit, but preparing for someone to critique your home has its own level of anxieties. She walked through our house making certain we met her standards of cleanliness and safety and passed her expectations for living conditions and an environment suitable to raise a child. Outlet covers were in place and fire extinguishers strategically placed on each level. A baby’s room with the appropriate bed passed her inspection as she made her way to our living room.
I wanted to relax a little now that her walk-through had concluded, but my heart hadn’t yet calmed down. The case worker explained that she would be taking each of us and interviewing us separately from the others. Her tone was kind, and she had genuine care for our desire to adopt. We elaborated on our responses from the application and in detail made her aware of why we chose adoption. Our then three-year-old daughter was even included in the interviews about what happened when she got in trouble, what she liked to do with her mom and dad for fun, and how she felt about having another baby in the house.
When we reconvened as a family, the case worker asked us if we were emotionally ready to adopt based on past infertility issues or health risks involved with the birth of our first daughter. She questioned whether we needed any counseling as we proceeded or if the support of our family and friends has aided in our decision to adopt. She got to know our family and the daily life of how we functioned. Some questions were very personal and others made us laugh. By this point, our fears had subsided (somewhat), and we were grateful for someone who would work to help us bring an adopted baby into our family.
Our caseworker put us at ease and even helped us to understand the process and expectations of adoption much better. She scheduled her next visit as part two of the home study that would include some training for us as potential adoptive parents. Then, once that was completed, she would present us with a written report, our home study, that we would now start using as we apply to adoption agencies.
When making plans to bring a baby into your family, the process of the home study is necessary and helpful. Our anxieties were a little excessive as we prepared for this experience. We survived the paperwork, background checks, interviews, and household tour. Adoption is now on the horizon.
Jill is a 31-year-old wife and mom. She has been married to her husband, Brannon, for eight years and has 4-year-old and 3-month-old daughters. Jill and her husband are currently in the adoption process to bring another baby into their home. Jill lives in a small community in Kentucky. She has her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Spanish and obtained her Master’s degree in Christian Ministries. Jill’s passions are her faith, her family, writing, playing sports, and eating good food.