Friday, November 4, 2011

A Few Hints for the Home Study

While we’re waiting for the report, here are a few things you might like to know before you start the Home Study process:
-          Prepare! They want to know that you’re not just diving head first into this. Do you know a little about the country? What is the language, the religion? Why are there kids available there? How old are they? Is it mainly girls? Boys? Are there any health issues that are particularly relevant? How much time will you have to travel for? How much money will it cost you? When will you need to pay? If at all possible, try to get in touch with other adoptive families. Even if your social worker does not ask all these questions (ours did), it’s information you will need at some point anyway.
-          You also should prepare by reading on adoption, attachment and how to promote it, trans-racial families and the issues they face...
-          The government (in Alberta at least) is not a big fan of physical punishment. So if you think spanking your child is the solution to everything, think about other disciplinary actions you would take before getting there. I’m not saying lie about it, but there may be a way of putting it that won’t get them thinking your kid is going to be spanked every day!
-          We were also told that the government really prefers the parents to take the full parental leave before returning to work, when adopting internationally. This is because the first months are so critical to attachment.
-          Not all agencies have a Home Study Self Report. Some ask for an autobiography, others don’t ask for this type of preparation. If your agency does not require it, have a look in my previous posts about the Home Study Self Report and take some time to think about some of the issues there. You need to discuss this with your partner, if you are couple. An interview with your social worker may not be the time and place to start arguing about who is going to take time off work when kiddo is sick.
-          Get a fire extinguisher and test your smoke detectors before the home visit.
-         They will ask where your medications and cleaning products are in the home. They don’t have to be in a childproof place yet, but you should have a plan. And if you already have children, you may want to have it done already before the home visit.
-          If you already have kids, your social worker will want to talk to them. So make sure you have discussed adoption with them and that you managed to get them onboard.
-          Look for trouble from a child’s point of view. Is there a pool to fall into? Drugs they can grab easily? Cleaning products to gulp down? Electrical outlets to stick tiny fingers into? Here again, you don’t need to have everything safely put away yet, but you should have a plan to make it safe before your child is there.
Our agency kept telling us: “Be yourselves”. You’re not expected to be perfect, there may have been issues in your past or traumatic events in your extended family. You will have to explain them and how they got resolved, but it doesn’t mean you can't be an awesome parent.
And keep in mind, although it sucks to feel judged like this, it will only last for a few weeks... 

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