Home Study – An overview

Home Study

As promised, I am including some helpful information we picked up during our foster-adoption journey.  I think the question we get asked the most was how was passed our Home Study.  I’m not going to lie, I don’t know the ‘magic combination’ or formula of how we passed the home study. What I do know it is a stumbling block for many couples and I also know that each agency has their own rules, guidance and requirements. What I will attempt to do in this blog is tell you what we did to get ready for our home study and hopefully some of these steps will resonate with you, if you are going down a similar path.

We had to go through the Charles County Department of Social Services in the state of Maryland in order to complete our home study.  We had a thick packet of information, appointment requests and forms that we had to complete.  Here is a list of things we needed below:

–Copies of drivers license
–Copies of birth certificates
–Copy of marriage license
–Forms – Questionnaire I & 2; Attitudes on Sexual Issues, Biographies
–Forms – Childhood and Family Life Experience Form
–Medical forms with TB results
–Verification of income; month of paystubs, Federal income tax cover sheet with AGI
–Pets – rabies (if applicable)
–Addresses for References (3)
–Certified copy of driving record
–Criminal clearances

A lot, right? Going through this packet and filling it out was quite a chore – in fact, we almost quit, TWICE!  In particular, the questionnaires and forms were very lengthy.  They asked very invasive questions on our family history, our sexual history, our educational background, income – you name it, they asked it.

A word of advice – during this process it is important to remember that you have to be completely transparent with the agency and your assigned case worker.  Even if you have gone through some less than great experiences, it is important to tell the truth. I believe our case worker was actually looking for those vulnerable moments, not to trip us up in the process, but to make sure we had overcome anything and could move on in a healthy space.

Thankfully for my husband and I, we had relatively normal childhoods and upbringings. As I mentioned above, this was surprising to our assigned case worker.  We had to discuss our questionnaires in person, in the form of interviews, as a part of the home study.  Our case worker asked us over and over again about our education, experiences, and what brought us to this place.  She also asked about trauma, abuse and was intrigued at our vanilla stories. She later explained, “typically potential resource parents have previously gone through foster care and are attracted to this process.  They’re interested in becoming foster parents after having negative experiences growing up. They want to make a difference in the lives of children who are like them. It is rare that you don’t see some sort of traumatic experience, as most of the foster parents have been through something in their childhood.” That made sense to me, as she explained it. I helped to fill in the gap for her by explaining, “Well, you’re looking at a foster child success story – one generation later.  My father was that foster child you spoke of.  But he overcame his history and was placed in a supportive resource home. He then married my mother and raised a great family, so you’re seeing the fruits of a foster placement, gone correctly.” Her eyes brightened and she seemed appreciative and I further shared my father’s story and how it impacted me to become a foster mother.

As if the interviews weren’t enough, we also had to undergo an examination of our home. This included a sanitary inspection and a fire marshal inspection of our home.  We had to set up appointments with each of these departments to inspect the home to their levels of safety.  The last part of the home study included a long checklist of items, based on the ages of the children you are willing to have in your home.  For us, we included infants as possible placements, so we had to basically baby-proof our home, with no actual “promise” of baby placement.  This means we had to buy a crib, safety plugs, safety gates, etc.

I’ll admit it, it was kinda creepy sleeping in a house without a baby but fully ‘furnished’ for one to walk into it.  We waited until the very last minute get some of these items.  Overall, we started the process in September 2013 and our Home Study, Interviews, Questionnaires and other forms were approved by the end of March 2014. The process was most intense throughout the month of January 2014. We got our first placement June 20, 2014.

Oh, one major important detail I forgot to share – if you are going through the local government/state, a home study is FREE! That is one major difference between going through a private agency vs. the state government.

Lastly, here  is a link to the Home Study Process in the State of Maryland.

I hope that this gives you some insight into the often intimidating Home Study process. If you plan on going through this soon and would like some additional help and resources, please feel free to hit the contact button and reach out to me.  I’ll be glad to walk you through the process and share some of our forms with you.

Hopefully, within the next year, I plan on publishing a book with a detailed account of everything we went through in order to get certified in order to help others navigate this foster-adoption journey!

 

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