- Copies of birth certificates for everyone in the home
- Copies of social security cards for everyone in the home
- Copies of driver’s licenses
- Copy of health insurance card
- Copy of marriage license (if applicable)
- If you have been divorced, you will also need a copy of the divorce decree
- A copy of the first 2 pages of your tax return (the 1040 pages) for the past 2 years (some states/agencies may require 3 years)
- Employment verification for both spouses
- Pet records (proof of current vaccinations and a copy of county pet registration, if your county does this)
- Personal references
When you’ve chosen your agency, they will schedule the first home visit with you. These visits can last one to three hours, which is why so many hopeful adoptive families are intimidated by this step. In reality, though, most social workers are not out to judge you harshly. As a social worker myself trust me when I say that they too are human, so they recognize that you will have dust in corners that you just can’t reach. Of course you’ll want to clean your home, but don’t feel the need to remodel your home. They’re not looking for the perfect home, but rather a suitable, safe home for a child.
The first visit is often where the social worker will check your home in the physical sense. They will make note of how many bedrooms and bathrooms your home has. The social worker will want to check the room your future child will be living in. If the room isn’t decorated, that’s okay! Your social worker just wants to know if it’s safe for a child. Beyond that, they will also check for:
If you have a pool, it needs to have appropriate safety measures taken to keep kids away from water. Many states require there to be a fence with a locking gate around the pool in order to meet this criteria. Different states have different requirements for how tall the fence must be (4 feet is a common one), and also the amount of area that must exist between the pool’s edge and the fence (the idea being that if a child manages to get through the fence, they won’t fall into the water immediately). Some states require that the gate be self-closing and self-locking, with the locking latch on the inside (towards the pool) to make sure that it would be very difficult for a child to manage to open. Finally, some states require that your back door (if that is the door that would lead to the pool) have an alarm on it so that you will know if your child goes out into the yard without you realizing it.
If you have guns, they also need to have appropriate safety measures. The requirements are typically that the firearm needs to be in a locked box or locking cabinet/case/safe, unloaded. The ammunition needs to be in a separate locked box in a different location than the box containing the gun. Both of these boxes need to be in a place where a child could not reach them (such as on a high shelf in a closet or the top drawer of a tall dresser).
Any chemical (such as cleaning products) need to be out of reach of children. This means that if you store your cleaning products under your kitchen sink, you need to either find a different spot for them (a high shelf in the pantry or laundry room, perhaps) or put a lock on that cabinet.
Make sure any medications are out of reach (in the medicine cabinet instead of the bathroom drawer, for example)
You need to have the appropriate number of smoke detectors/alarms based on the building codes of your state, and all need to be functional with working batteries.
There needs to be a fire extinguisher stored in a reasonably accessible area. It doesn’t have to be a full-sized one, something like this Multi Purpose Fire Extinguisher is what we have.
Need help choosing a home study agency? I’d love to help! Feel free to email me.