For many families, fall is a time of year when little people head back to school. Children stroll into classrooms, eager for learning, recess and renewed friendships. For fathers pursuing embryo adoption this season, it might be helpful to take a page from those neighborhood kids, pull out a No. 2 pencil and gear up for one of the most important parts of the adoption process: the home study.
The purpose of a home study is to ensure you are mentally, physically, spiritually and financially equipped to bring a baby (or two!) into the world. Don’t worry. Your home study will be conducted by a professional who cares about you and your future children. They want what’s best for both of you.
So dads, here are 10 steps you can take to ensure you and your wife have a successful home study.
Step #1: Let Your Light Shine. This should come as no surprise: If you are adopting from a agency, you’re going to need to answer some questions about your faith tradition and your proclivity for participation. Remember, dads, you are called to lead—and part of that leadership involves taking an active role in your children’s spiritual well-being.
Step #2: Remember Who You Are. There’s nothing wrong with adults who enjoy fun and recreation outside of the daily nine-to-five. Be prepared to share some insights into your hobbies and other activities you do for fun—reading, cooking, biking, golfing, etc. This is your chance to show your case worker the kinds of things you enjoy, as well as activities you imagine doing with your children one day.
Step #3: Detail The Data. If you haven’t yet filled out many forms as part of the adoption process, it’s time to get started! You’ll want to gather your contact details at home and work, note your height and weight, and even jot down your passport number, where applicable. Every piece of information you provide will help your caseworker get a full picture of you and your spouse as they evaluate whether you are prepared for embryo adoption.
Step #4: Fine-Tune Your Finances. It’s generally not polite to compare checkbooks at a dinner party, but this is no social gathering. As an adoptive parent, you will be responsible for ensuring your child’s needs are met. You’ll be putting food on the table, providing clothing and transporting him or her around town. Be prepared to help your caseworker understand your finances and your ability to nurture a child. You don’t need to be a millionaire to adopt a baby, but you do need to have the means to provide the best possible care.
Step #5: Review Those Scrapbooks. During the home study and also during the process of building a family portfolio, you’ll want to have photos of you, your wife and any children on hand. Pictures reveal so much about our relationships. Have fun with this exercise and remember that your goal is to paint a fun, honest and truthful picture of your family—silly and zany members and all.
Step #6: Preview Your Parenting. Your caseworker will evaluate your ability to successfully parent an adoptive child in part on your past experiences. Expect a conversation about how you were raised and how you anticipate raising your child, including the subject of discipline.
Step #7: Keep It Clean. Conducting your life in an appropriate way is among the best ways dads can help ace the embryo adoption home study. Drug abuse and related behavior will create major hurdles on the road to adoption. Be honest about past struggles you might have faced and be proactive in taking steps to remain sober.
Step #8: Embrace Transparency. If you have received an unfavorable home study in the past, you need to be up front about what happened and why. In other cases, couples might have started down the road of adoption and stopped for one reason or another. Ensure your case worker fully understands why you made certain decisions in the past, and what has changed in your decision-making process.
Step #9: Know Your Emergency Contacts and potential Guardians. As a dad, you are engineered to offer your family protection. One of the best ways to do that is by designating emergency contacts in the event something happens to you. You also may have chosen or need to choose a guardian for your kids if necessary. Make sure to notify these loved ones that you are listing them on your adoption home study form to ensure there are no surprises down the road.
Step #10: Trust The Process. None of us enjoys having strangers dig through our dirty laundry, especially proud and private fathers. But the reality is that home studies aren’t designed only for you—they’re designed for the sake of your entire family, and especially for any children you welcome into your home through adoption. The home study will take several hours of in-person time with your case worker in your home, and it will take additional time for him or her to write your report and make a recommendation about whether you are ready for adoption. Have patience and remember why you decided to pursue embryo adoption in the first place: Babies need loving homes such as yours.
Although there’s no extra credit for a job well done, your family can rest easily knowing you’ve had an open and honest conversation with your case worker. It’s one more step on the road to bringing home that sweet baby your family dreams about.
To learn more about embryo adoption and donation, visit EmbryoAdoption.org.
Nate Birt and his wife, Julie, are adoptive parents of Phoebe, a Nightlight® Christian Adoptions Snowflakes® baby. Nate blogs quarterly for Snowflakes® and is the author of “Frozen, But Not Forgotten: An Adoptive Dad’s Step-by-Step Guide to Embryo Adoption” from Carpenter’s Son Publishing. To subscribe to his email newsletter, visit www.frozenbutnotforgotten.com.