Written by Jill Thomley, Home Study Caseworker at Abiding Love Adoptions
*We know that all agency’s do their homestudy processes slightly different. We admire the way that Abiding Love Adoptions conducts their homestudy process. Here is an example of how an ethical home study would be done through Abiding Love Adoptions agency.
Not everyone comes to Abiding Love for the same purpose. Sure, all come in hopes of adopting, but some come in hopes to become parents, some come in response to a perceived need, and some come to grow their family further. All of these reasons may still end in adoption, but each family will require different guidance and training to get there. I do not expect my favorite size 8 platform sneakers to fit each of my children. Likewise, I cannot expect each Prospective Adoptive Parent (PAP) to get the right fit and education when learning in a group setting or a static online course.
After deciding on adoption and finding an agency, every PAP must complete a homestudy. There are basic topics to discuss within the homestudy process and many topics that require a deeper dive. Abiding Love begins by having the PAPs complete a very thorough questionnaire that includes information about their family of origin, their education & employment, their desire to adopt and journey to get here, their marriage and/or past marriage(s) and how they plan to discuss adoption with their children. Although the homestudy process is the starting point for every PAP, we do not start at the same place for training with each PAP. First, they share why they want to adopt and what brought them to Abiding Love. The caseworker begins asking perceptive questions and with discernment works to gain a better understanding about where the PAPs need to explore further.
Then we dive in. We may challenge their vocabulary and share with them the history of adoption and why terms matter. We might tackle their beliefs about expectant mothers and why they may choose adoption. We may have to plunge into details of the loss they have faced, their marriage troubles, or how one partner is not as onboard with adoption. We often work to expand their thinking about what open adoption looks like and how it can benefit all members of the triad. We typically challenge the popular narratives related to adoption that seem true just because they are common. If there are challenges to these topics, the PAPs often feel that their argument is unique and somehow should get a pass. In a group or online setting, these feelings could be overlooked and go unaddressed. Doing individualized training with each PAP allows us to see what makes them wince, see when the tears come, see where there is disagreement within the couple, and often where they are just undereducated about the current best practices within adoption.
The goal of the homestudy process is to evaluate, educate and prepare the Prospective Adoptive Parents for adoption and to ensure that they are equipped in their role in the triad. Every PAP brings a unique set of baggage, good or bad, and each come along a different road hoping to end in adoption. Every family has basic needs within the process and those will be met, but individualized training allows specific topics to be addressed, challenged or just further discussed. We desire to meet the PAPs where they are so that we can best serve them in the homestudy process. In the end, this enables us to best serve the child and birthparents as well.
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