Even when you DON'T have skeletons in your closet, a home study can be daunting.
How personal will the questions be?
Are they going to ask us about our arguments? Past relationships?
My family and friends?
Are they going to search my closets, dressers, and cabinets?
Just assume the answer is yes to all of these. The truth is, if you are hoping to foster or adopt you shouldn't have to worry about who YOU are or what you've done. You don't have to be perfect, and you wouldn't even be at this point without a thorough background check, FBI fingerprints, and extensive reference check. So who cares if you were a wild child 15 years ago?? The only thing that you have to do is be honest and let your personality come out. Just like a job interview, no one is interested in rehersed, picture perfect answers. You also need to prepare for anywhere between 3-5 hours and have your home prepped to the max (I'll explain).
This is a general list of the questions we were asked:
Income and job history - I will admit I was not prepared to list the dates of EVERY single job that I have had since I was 15
Household budgeting & bills
How you intend on disciplining your children
How your parents disciplined you, as well as detailed questions regarding your childhood, your relationships with your siblings then and now, and your parent's marriage
Your religious views & how you intend on catering to a child from a different religion
Past relationships - my husband and I were interviewed separately during this portion. Be honest about your exes, why you broke up, issues in the relationship, etc.
What you and your partner agree on and argue about
How you resolve arguments
Things that you do in your free time, hobbies, etc.
Your children will also be interviewed separately, but this did not apply to us
Most of the personal questions were very basic and nothing came up that was surprising.
Prepare for a detailed tour of the home including opening cabinets & closets, and walking though the checklist of child safety preparation
Having your home prepped to the max -guidelines will vary from state to state, but this is what was required for us:
All chemicals were out of reach (I believe it's 5 ft off the ground) or kept in a magnetic locked cabinet. You are more than likely going to need 4 of these locks (or 2 sets). If you have double doors under your sink (where most of us keep our cleaning supplies), you can not have just one door locked, even if the chemicals are only on one side. All medications must be kept in a locked cabinet as well. Again every state has different guild lines, but in Texas you can not have chemicals & medication behind ANY lock that is not magnetic. Your agency will provide you with a detailed list of what is needed....follow it to a T!
All prescriptions must be under double lock. Even though we did not have kids in our home at the time, nor have we had any kids on meds, it is required to have a lock box in the refrigerator and another lock box inside of a magnetic locked cabinet at all times. Luckily we had 2 small luggage locks, a small toolbox and jar around the house that worked. Really anything that can be locked is acceptable, so check your house before buying anything.
Magnetis locks-There is a great deal from Toy's R Us for an 8 piece set for $23.99. Most sets of 2 are around $12.
This is what we used for prescriptions:
Locked toolbox is under the bathroom sink (with magnet locks) along with
all of our other over the counter meds.
Jar is locked, empty, & kept in the fridge at ALL times!
Sliding glass doors must have some sort of sticker or decal so that a small child does not run into it thinking it may be open - kinda strange and this was not on our list, so I just taped some flashcards up and called it a day. I'm sure you could find something a little more attractive on Etsy.
There's a whole set of rules for staircases (which we do not have) but I'm pretty sure gates are needed at the top and bottom.
Your agency will provide you with a list of 'must be locked' items including diaper rash cream, neosporin, and any other liquid that could be harmful if swallowed.
Mounted fire extinguisher in or next to the kitchen (weight will vary by state) and emergency escape plans posted above the extinguisher and in all bedrooms. I can't remember if this was checked during the home study, but was required on our fire inspection.
All beds must have a mattress protector and a baby monitor was required for kids under 2
We were also required to have a fire inspection ($150 every 2 years) and a health inspection (free!). These were both very simple.
Fire- mounted extinguisher check, testing smoke detectors (needed in every room and living area), no furniture blocking the windows and a few other things that were so basic they weren't even mentioned by the inspector
Health - Also pretty basic, checking your refrigerator and pantry (no wild game jerky drying in the closet people!), running water hot & cold, stickers on the sliding door, family pet vaccine records, water heater, and checking beds & living areas (including space for child's possessions).
Since you will have months to prepare, start your thrift shopping now!! If you are going to be brand new parents the prep is crazy! Check thrift stores, craigslist, & ebay for good deals. You are most likely going to have an age range that you are open to (and if you are open to all ages, God bless you!) so start a stockpile of goods ASAP. Anytime you see something on sale.....formula, underwear, socks, baby food, diapers, sippy cups, bottles, etc, BUT IT! Yes, I have preemie diapers and Hello Kitty underwear collecting dust in the closet, but they will eventually get used and I got them cheap!
If you have any other specific questions or concerns, please ask away. I am happy to help!