A social worker’s journey through adoption homestudy

welcome doormat with the word HOME

Getting ready to start your Adoption Homestudy

Sometimes, when I’m allocated an adoption homestudy, I have already met the applicant(s) at an information event, visited them to do an Initial Visit or have facilitated their Preparation Group. Other times, we are meeting each other for the very first time. As a prospective adopter, you will undoubtedly feel a mixture of emotions upon finishing your Prep Group and getting ready to start your adoption homestudy; you will of course be excited to get started but I bet you will feel nervous too and you’ll have thoughts like:

  • Will you like your Social Worker?
  • Will they like you? What will they ask you?
  • What if they think you’re not good enough?

 

Believe me, all of these are understandable thoughts and feelings to have when embarking on such a life changing journey!  Even as an experienced Social Worker who has assessed countless numbers of prospective adopters, it might surprise you to know that I get nervous at the start of the adoption homestudy too! I’m a stranger, asking you to completely open yourself up to me to be assessed and I want to make you feel as comfortable as possible in doing that. What if you don’t like me? What if I don’t do a good enough job? Lol, we all go through it!

What happens in the first Adoption Homestudy session?

In the first session, I like to keep things as relaxed as possible. It’s about getting to know my applicant(s) first and foremost. However,  I usually have a fair bit of boring paperwork to hand over at this meeting which I walk my applicant(s) through and I like to set out how I like to do the assessment (all workers have their own style for assessing applicants and we all write our reports in our own style too but the information we need to make the assessment is the same).

I’ll also talk my applicant’s through the homework that I’ll set – I think it’s really important for applicants to provide written work to be included in the Prospective Adopters Report (PAR). It gives panel members and family finding Social Workers a sense of you that sometimes can’t be captured fully by me.

oblique photo of a month on calendar for adoption homestudyHow often do we meet during the Adoption Homestudy?

From there, I’ll meet with my applicant(s) either weekly or fortnightly (depending on their availability) and we’ll make our way through the assessment together.

What will be covered in subsequent Adoption Homestudy sessions?

Although this is an assessment, it’s also a continuing learning opportunity and I’ll share as much knowledge and examples from experience as I can and provide my applicant(s) with resources for further research.

We look at the following areas in assessment:

  • Motivation to adopt
  • Family background
  • Early life experience
  • Education
  • Work experience
  • Health
  • Previous significant relationships
  • Current relationship (if in one)
  • Support network
  • Home
  • Local community
  • Finances
  • Lifestyle
  • Potential changes
  • Expectations of adoption
  • Understanding of the needs of adopted children
  • Adoptive parenting capacity
  • Matching considerations

woman sitting at adoption homestudy taking notes - from shouldersWhat’s it like doing the Adoption Homestudy?

Sounds like a long list to get through? Yes, it is but trust me, time will fly by and we’ll be heading towards a panel date in what will feel like no time at all. And remember, we’re a team and we’re working on all of this together. There’s nothing better than for me to hear people say that it was just like having a really long chat with someone friendly and interested in them (and I’ve heard this many times!).

What happens at the end of the Adoption Homestudy sessions?

During assessment (generally once we’re more than halfway through), I’ll ask for a panel date. Once we’ve finished our assessment sessions, I’ll start writing the PAR. This is the assessment report that goes not only to panel but if approved as an adopter(s), goes to Social Workers in the family finding stage.

I’ll send the PAR to my manager and to my applicant(s) to read through once it’s finished. It’s really important that my applicants read the report and can see themselves in it. My manager will then meet with me and the applicant(s) and we’ll discuss the strengths and any vulnerabilities in the application.

We’ll also prepare them as to what to expect from panel. Then, it’s only about a week or two until panel date and from there, well that’s another story…

Tracey Turnbull

Senior Practitioner