November is National Adoption Awareness Month, an opportunity to have an open dialog about the intricacies of adoption, share knowledge, and raise awareness about children in the foster care system who are waiting to be adopted.
The adoption process is made easier if you have a helpful agency and social worker. One of the most stressful parts of adoption is getting ready for the home study. The home study is when a social worker comes to your home to learn more about your family, examine the home and make sure your documentation is in order.
If you’re worried about the home study, there are a few things you can do to prepare.
Do some research
Every state has different requirements and there are even differences between what you have to do depending on if you’re adopting or taking in a foster child. Find a good agency or adoption professional that can help you find out what you need to do in your state.
Insider Tip: Be sure you take this seriously! Most states require you to have a designated room for the child that is a certain size and that has a window.
Meet fire safety regulations
Every state takes fire safety seriously. Make sure you have a fire escape route that include a way for people to escape from the second floor, if you have one. You must be able to tell the social worker your plan. Have fire extinguishers on each floor and make sure that you have working smoke detectors on each floor and while you’re at it, install carbon monoxide detectors, if you haven’t already. Here are more fire safety tips you should know.
Insider Tip: Talk to someone at your local fire department. They have additional tips about fire safety for your state, may be able to help with smoke detector installation and can give you advice on fire extinguishers.
If you have a pool, make sure the fence around it is in good repair. Safety around water is taken very seriously. A fenced yard is preferred for any home with children. If you have a chain link fence that needs repair, here’s how to fix it.
Insider Tip: Lock up anything that is unsafe and potentially dangerous. Weapons and alcohol should be locked up and stored out of the reach of children.
The social worker will likely want to meet any pets that live in your home. If your pets are aggressive with strangers, now is the time to think of a back up plan for them in your life. If they aren’t going to get along with a guest, they probably aren’t going to be a fan of a new addition to your family.
Insider Tip: It’s always beneficial to socialize your pets and get them used to meeting new people. Some dogs feel safer crated until it’s time for the meet and greet.
Child-proof your home
Having your home ready for children show the social worker you are serious and responsible. Here are nine tips to help you get started on child-proofing your home. Use a checklist and ask a friend who has children to come over and look around. They’ll be able to tell you what will make your home more child friendly.
Insider Tip: Even if you aren’t adopting an infant or a toddler, things like electrical outlet protectors and child-proof cabinet door latches are a good idea.
Check your windows
Insider Tip: Also, check your doors and make sure all locks and closers are working properly.
The social worker won’t be looking for perfection, but it’s common sense that you should present a clean house when they come to visit.They’ll ask to see the room where the child you intend to have in your home will sleep. Although they usually don’t require that you have all of the furniture you’ll need at this point, make sure the room is clean and has no safety hazards. These nine cleaning tips will help you get your home in tip-top shape.
Insider Tip: Don’t forget the closets! Social workers will want to make sure those are in order, as well. Check out these 12 closet organization hacks.