For many couples, adoption is the best option for bringing a child into the family. This can be the result of many different individual circumstances, and can prove to be an exhausting process if you are not prepared for all that is required. While the Florida adoption process is intense and sometimes lengthy, couples that have made the decision to provide a loving home and family for a child in need, or step-parents that wish to adopt the children in their marriage, look forward to the day that adoption is approved and a child becomes part of a growing family. One of the last steps in the adoption process, after background checks and reference checks that help give adoption agencies and/or social workers a better impression of the individuals seeking to adopt, is a home study. The idea of a home study can be intimidating to new parents, especially those that are not yet sure of the age of the child they may be adopting. However, the home study phase of the Florida adoption process does not have to be as scary as it may seem. Below we offer some helpful tips on how to prepare your home and yourself for a successful home study.
Do Not Stress Yourself Out
While it is much easier said than done, you should not stress yourself out over the home study phase. While home studies have a reputation for making or breaking an approval to adopt, which they certainly can do in some circumstances, they are not used as a tool to disqualify prospective parents from being eligible to adopt. The real goal of a home study is to ensure that a home provides an appropriate environment for a new child, and it gives adoption agencies and/or social workers a chance to help prospective parents understand some of the things they can do to make their home safer and more welcoming for the right child. In fact, most of the time a home study is done long after parents’ initial qualification to adopt is determined. If a parent or parents have made it to the home study phase, chances are a home study will not ultimately alter the decision of whether or not a child is placed with that family. Florida adoption agencies and/or social workers conduct extensive background investigations on individuals wishing to adopt prior to scheduling a home study, so try and relax as much as possible as your home study approaches to minimalize the stress of the Florida adoption process.
If you have begun the adoption process with your spouse, make sure you are both on the same page as far as your adoption is concerned. It is important to discuss child safety, discipline, and other important child-rearing factors at length with your spouse prior to the home study so that you can both move forward through the process together. Couples that are prepared and can demonstrate that they are in agreement about different aspects of a child’s potential home life are much less likely to have difficulty with the home study phase of Florida adoption.
Regardless of the age of the child you are considering adopting or may ultimately have placed with you, it is important to make safety the first priority. Do you have a smoke alarm in every room that has working batteries? If not, make sure you correct the problem prior to your home study. Are hazardous materials safely locked away and out of reach of children? If you have weapons of any kind, alcohol, or any other materials that could pose a danger to a child, then it is necessary to demonstrate that you have taken the proper precautions to keep those items away from a child. If you are unsure of the age of the child you are adopting and are open to adopting a toddler or infant, you should take steps to childproof your home. Materials to help you do this are available at most hardware and general merchandise stores, and being prepared for a child of any age will help you make a good impression on the person conducting your home study.
While personal cleanliness and the cleanliness of your home are important factors, they are sometimes overstated. Individuals conducting a home study understand that people live in your home, so if intensive cleaning is starting to stress you out then take some deep breaths and clean appropriately. It is not necessary to scrub every inch of your home as a person conducting a home study likely will not be taking a white glove to each and every surface, nor will he or she expect your home to be as sterile and clean as an operating room. Some magazines out of place, a few dishes in the sink, or toothpaste on the bathroom mirror are not likely to be the deciding factors as to whether or not you are approved to adopt.
Prepare the Child’s Room
Knowing the age of the child you wish you adopt can be useful in preparing a room for that child. However, if you are open to adopting a child of any age then it may prove impossible to completely ready a room for that child. You may also wish to see if you will be adopting a boy or a girl in cases where you have not expressed a preference. It is perfectly fine to simply have a designated space for a child without the need to completely furnish that space in an appropriate manner. In other words, you do not have to have a complete nursery set up for an infant nor do you have to have a desk and computer ready for an older child. Demonstrating that you have prepared a space for the child and are willing to accommodate a child’s needs can be satisfactory enough for home study purposes.
Honesty is the Best Policy, Even When You are Unsure
Individuals conducting a home study do not expect you to be the world’s leading expert on raising a child. If you have questions about how you can make your home safer or more accommodating to a child, ask the person conducting your home study. They are more than willing to offer suggestions to make the home study process easier, as well as to make welcoming a child into your home an easier transition. At the same time, it is important to be honest and forthcoming with the individual conducting your home study. They have realistic expectations and understand that you have work and other obligations that will impact your ability to parent, and your honesty about the circumstances in which you will be raising a child if you are approved will be much appreciated.
Use Your Family Law Attorney as a Resource
Family law attorneys focus their practice on families. They have experience with the Florida adoption process and can provide a wealth of resources to help you through it. Whether you are an individual looking to adopt, a couple looking to adopt, or a stepparent ready to adopt the children in your relationship, Scott J. Stadler can provide the guidance you need to navigate the Florida adoption process. If you are considering adoption, contact Scott J. Stadler for a consultation and find out more about what is involved in the Florida adoption process and what that might mean for you.