Note: This is the third part in a series of posts chronicling our home study process. The purpose of this series is to give you an idea of what the home study process is like so you can know what to expect. Just keep in mind that not everyone conducts the home study exactly the same way, so your experience may vary. Feel free to read part 1 and part 2 before reading on if you haven’t already.
Today came the fun part of the home study. The part that everyone dreads. The part where they come to your house and do the whole white glove test to determine your fitness to be a parent based on your housekeeping skills.
Except that it’s not like that at all! 🙂
Seriously though, the home inspection is not as big a deal as it seems. They are not necessarily looking to see how tidy and organized you are. They just want to see your home and make sure it is safe and secure enough to raise a family. Most homes fall into this category, but it never hurts to make sure you have all the proper safety precautions in place before bringing a little one into your home.
The requirements for your home study will depend on who is conducting it. Some agencies may have stricter guidelines than others, so be sure to ask. While it’s probably not necessary to be a neat freak, it’s a good idea to try to tidy up a bit; you don’t want to be living in filth. Go ahead and mop the floors, dust the furniture, clean the surfaces, and make the beds. But don’t worry about making the house look immaculate, especially if you already have children. They will not have a problem with a house that looks lived in.
In this post, I’m going to give you a rundown of what our social worker was looking for and what we did to prepare. As always, your requirements may vary, so this post is only to be used as a guide. For a more general guide on making your house safer for children, check out this handy resource. It will give you a good idea of how to prepare your home for the arrival of your child.
Preparing for the Home Inspection
The first thing that our case worker did was send us an e-mail of things she would be looking for in the inspection. The list was not that long, and we were able to do most of these things in one day.
Here’s what was on the list:
- Smoke detectors: We had to make sure that each bedroom had a functioning smoke detector within 10 feet.
- Fire extinguisher: There had to be at least one functioning fire extinguisher in the kitchen. This is a good time to have your extinguisher inspected and maintained. For more information on this, check out this link.
- Carbon monoxide detectors: If you have gas appliances in your home, this is a must. Here is a link explaining the best places to install them.
- Cleaning supply storage: All cleaning supplies should be stored out of reach of children. This means moving any cleaning supplies to a cabinet or shelf high enough to be out of reach, or at least installing childproof locks on any lower cabinet doors where cleaning supplies are stored.
- Firearm storage: Any guns in the house had to be stored securely locked and unloaded, with ammo stored separately.
- Evacuation plan: We had to create a floor plan of our home and draw arrows indicating escape routes for each room in case of fire or other emergency. This didn’t have to be fancy; just a simple sketch on a sheet of paper is acceptable. Check out this link for a good guide on creating an evacuation plan.
- Pet vaccination records: We have four cats, so we had to provide a copy of their vaccination records. This may be a good time to bring your pets to the vet if they are behind on their shots.
- First aid kits: We had to make sure we had some sort of first aid kit available. You can buy first aid kits already put together, or you can create your own. The American Red Cross has a good resource on what every first aid kit should include.
At the time of the inspection, our case worker came to our house and basically went through the above checklist to make sure everything was in place. She then measured each of our bedrooms, had us sign a few papers, and that was it! The whole inspection didn’t take much longer than 30 minutes.
While the inspection didn’t take long and wasn’t as difficult as we anticipated, it was a very good exercise for us in that it got us thinking about the safety of our home. This is something that should be a priority for all of us, whether we have children or plan to have children or not.
This was the last of the visits we need to have with our social worker, but there are still some things we need to do. Things like the background check, the physical exam, the required training and reading. This will be the focus of the next part of this blog post series.
In the meantime, our case worker will work on putting together the final document that is the home study. When it is done she will let us review it to make sure everything is accurate, then she will make any necessary changes and submit the final copy to us and our adoption attorney. This will take around 3 to 4 weeks to complete, which gives us time to take care of everything else that needs to be done.
Question: For those of you who have gone through the home study already: how did your interviews go? Were there any significant differences from ours? What’s your best advice to those about to go through this for the first time? For those of you who have yet to begin your home study: Do you have any additional questions? Feel free to comment below.