I am answering these just from my own experience. I am sure there are variances from organization to organization. It can seem daunting to start, but I promise it isn’t THAT bad! 😊 You can do it and it will be 5000% worth it when you squeeze that tiny precious human.
What all does it involve?
A little bit of everything from financial to sex offender registry checks to pet vaccination records to reference letters to water bills.
How in depth into your finances do they get?
Pretty in depth. You pretty much provide all account/savings/expense/debt/asset info.
Any tips for first timer?
Take it step by step. None of it is “hard”, just tedious and can feel a bit invasive. Try to email as many people as possible (vs going in person/calling). I did so this time around for 911/local records etc and got such quick responses! Also, I recommend getting the Adobe Scan app on your phone and purchasing Adobe Create for your computer. When you have to update it the next year, everything is right there and you can just make a few edits!
How do you keep it all organized?
Our homestudy social worker provides a checklist and I just put things in order on a clip board as I complete them. We use sticky notes throughout to mark where we need signatures/ things are missing, etc. Don’t make copies until you have EVERYTHING completed. Once it is finished, I take it to a local printing place and have them bind it all together so nothing gets separated. You have to travel with several copies so having it in book form made it easy to toss into our bags.
Create a folder on your computer for all of your documents and use the PDF app/program.
How often do you have to update?
In GA it is valid for a year. A year from the oldest document you have included in your homestudy aka you want to try to get through it pretty quickly so that it is valid as long as possible. If you move there are a few things you have to update, but not the entire thing.
I’m not a fan of having my blood drawn so all of the medical tests are my least favorite part. We had a dang TIME last year with my medical forms too because the doctor we saw was extremely uncooperative (she replaced our previous dr who moved), so make sure you have a good relationship with your primary care beforehand!
Are there specific features that you should or can’t have in your home? Easy fixes you wish you knew ahead of time?
The homestudy is probably 5% about your actual home. It is background checks, fingerprints, finances, reference letters, employment verifications, medical, insurance, etc. The home requirements (at least for adoption) were fairly simple for us: carbon monoxide and smoke deteCtors and a fire extinguisher. We did not have to have the nursery ready (I did, but that’s just me!).
Again, I can only speak from personal experience but our total homestudy costs were under $2k. As far as total adoption costs go- google says the national average is $43,000 and they aren’t lying! 😊
Do they focus on work schedules?
We had to provide a childcare plan, but I didn’t feel as if this was a huge focus.
What kind of things do you have to do to prepare?
As far as the actual home visit, we just made sure our home was tidy and clean and we had the necessary fire extinguishers, smoker detectors etc. I do know that some homestudies require more “baby proofing”, but they should tell you clearly upfont what they are looking for and if they don’t, just ask! One thing I have learned in the adoption process is the homestudy and agencies work for you (you hired them and are paying them!) so ask as many questions as you need!
Is foster home study same as adoption?
I have not done a foster home study, but I believe there are similarities and differences.