There probably will be several interviews, perhaps one or two in the agency office and at least one in your home. You'll discuss the topics addressed in your autobiographical statement, and the social worker will ask questions to clarify what you have written. In the case of couples, some agency workers conduct all the interviews jointly, with husband and wife together. Others will conduct both joint and individual interviews.
Remember that the worker is not visiting your home to conduct a white glove inspection! She simply needs to verify that the child will be in a safe and healthy environment and make sure you've thought ahead about accommodating the new family member. There may be a requirement that you have a working smoke alarm (which is a good idea anyway) and an evacuation plan in case of an emergency. The latter is not something many people have, so you might want to develop one ahead of time. The worker may want to see the child's bedroom and all the other areas of the house or apartment, including the basement or backyard.
Some tips for the home visit:
- Do not clean the whole place from top to bottom, unless that is the level of housekeeping you always maintain. A certain level of cleanliness is necessary, but "lived-in" family clutter is expected. Most social workers would worry that people living in a "picture perfect" home would have a difficult time adjusting to the clutter that a child brings to a household. Instead, use this visit as one more time to build on the open and honest relationship you are developing with the worker.
- It's natural to be nervous! But most often the worker wants to work with you and approve you if you have gotten to this point of the home study. You are not expected to reveal every intimate detail of your life, and you're not expected to be perfect! In fact, perfection would probably raise eyebrows. It's much more important to be honest, be yourself, and present a true picture of your family history and family functioning. Social workers know that everyone has a unique combination of strengths and weaknesses.
- Be honest. If you had a difficult childhood, experienced financial problems, quit a job in anger, or have some other "skeleton" in your closet that you think might disqualify you, chances are, if you discuss it openly with the social worker, it will not present a problem. It wouldn't be wise to be deceptive or dishonest, or for the documents collected in the home study to expose an inconsistency in what you have presented about your family. This would betray the social worker's trust, which would harm your chances and may even cause the termination of your home study.
- Maintain flexibility and a sense of humor. These are vital characteristics when raising children and they can come in handy during the home study as well. For instance, if you have the flexibility in your job and are willing to take off an hour early to meet with the social worker or to modify your schedule in some other way to make the meeting arrangements flow smoothly, that effort will be appreciated by the worker. As a parent-to-be, many more of these accommodations are in your future; therefore the social worker often believes you may as well start getting used to them!
Source: National Adoption Information Clearinghouse
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.