One of the “scariest” parts of the adoption process seems to commonly be the home study, where you’re paired with a social worker who does a deep dive into your family history, your relationship, your medical history and your home life. I think it’s scary because the media portrays it to be, but it really doesn’t have to be scary at all. That said, it is thorough and a LOT of work.
Whenever I share about our preparation for our home study visit, people often comment that they can’t believe the hoops we have to jump through to adopt. But I kind of think the thinking should be flipped. I can’t believe that most parents don’t have to jump through these hoops. Because once you sit down and check all the boxes, you realize how important they are! Parenthood is scary and a huge responsibility, and you can never be too prepared, right? So today I thought I’d share 10 adoption home study requirements that (I think) every parent should do!
Disclaimer: Every home study is different and not necessarily every adoptive parent has had to do these exact things. (Every state, agency and social worker has different requirements.) I’ve just pulled the most important items from the experience we’ve personally had!
1. Take a CPR and First Aid Class – Spend five minutes in a CPR class and you’ll understand why it’s so important to have the proper training, and how life saving it can be when you do. We are required to take a CPR, Infant CPR and First Aid combination class and while it definitely gave me a jolt of anxiety, it is SO critical to know how to do CPR and the heimlich and how to use an AED. There are classes available everywhere for all different price points. We did ours through the Red Cross directly, but there are also some free options available, like locally at CHLA (if you’re here in Los Angeles).
2. Get a Physical – Parents get a bad reputation for not taking care of themselves, and that’s because it’s true… we don’t! I’m super guilty of this one especially, but getting a yearly physical is a great baseline for staying on top of your health! And you want to stay on top of your health so you can be your best self when supporting your family! If you don’t have a regular doctor, clinics, urgent cares and even the Heal app (doctors come to your house, available in select cities!) offer them too.
3. Build or Buy An Emergency/Earthquake Kit – We’re in California so this is extra critical, but with natural disasters and terrorist attacks increasing constantly, I think everyone should have an emergency kit. The goal is for your kit to have enough supplies for each member of your family to be able to survive for 72 hours. It should include first aid items, food and water (or water purification tablets), shelter items like sleeping bags or tents, hand warmers, hygiene items, a battery or crank powered radio and flashlight and some sort of multi-tool knife among other things. It should all be packed in a backpack or easy to grab bag and ready to go should you need to evacuate your home immediately.
We bought this one, and no it wasn’t cheap! You can also google a list of items to have in a kit and build your own on a more affordable budget, which is what we did the first time we did our home study. And remember, if you ever have anyone stay at your home while you aren’t there, be sure to make them aware of the kit’s location.
4. Lock Up All Chemicals – All chemicals including cleaning supplies, perfumes and nail polishes need to be in a cabinet with a childproof lock on it. We have these locks that can be added to virtually any cabinet. (Since I got a few questions on this via Instagram, yes, even all natural/non-toxic versions of these products needed to be locked up!)
5. Put Together a Complete First Aid Kit – We always have had a little kit with band-aids and gauze but we were required to get a complete first aid kit for this process that specifically included a thermometer, tweezers, scissors and a first aid manual in addition to your standard first aid supplies. We bought this one and then added a thermometer to it ourselves.
6. Lock Up All Medicines – All of our medicines are required to be locked in a lock box with a code on it. Medicines really freak me out with kids, because they so often look like candy or treats, and with curious kids like Arlo, I imagine those child-proof caps aren’t so child proof. We have a pink box we bought years ago but here’s an almost identical one in blue!
7. Ensure House Numbers are Visible – We were guilty of this! Make sure your house numbers are visible from the street! If there’s an emergency, you don’t want the first responders trying to guess which one is your house. We ordered these, which are pretty but also get the job done!
8. Buy A Fire Extinguisher – For obvious reasons, having a fire extinguisher in your home should be non-optional! They’re relatively inexpensive and you can get them locally or order one online.
9. Put Together an Emergency Plan for Your Home – We should ALL have an emergency plan for our families, no excuses! For ours, we had to sketch out our home and identify all the escape routes from each bedroom. We also had to identify both a family meeting place outside of our home (we chose a neighbor’s house) and a temporary relocation spot should we not be able to return home for some time. We also had to identify where our electrical, gas and water shut offs are, because should we ever need to shut those off after something like an earthquake, it’s so important to know this.
10. Discuss How You Plan to Discipline – While just about all of the above have been about physical safety, one of the most interesting things the home study brought up for us was a discussion about how we will discipline our children. Maybe it’s just us, but in all our conversations about becoming parents, the topic of discipline never really came up. So when it did for this, we immediately found out that we weren’t on the same page at all! It was so helpful to identify this before actually having a tantrum-ing toddler of our own so we could make sure to face every discipline mountain as a team. Though we definitely haven’t mastered it yet… haha!
I know there’s about one billion things we “should” do as parents and it’s hard to keep up, but I hope this checklist is helpful for you to go back to over time and make these important updates and purchases! I’m really grateful that this process has forced us to make these updates to our home and have some of these discussions.
Would love to hear any safety updates you made as parents, or even discussions you had that you wished you had sooner in the parenting process. Let me know below!
Kaitlin Kirchner says
I absolutely LOVE all of this advice! We don’t have any kids yet, but are wanting some in the near future and some of these points I didn’t even think of! Which is scary!!! It is ALWAYS better to be prepared!!
For #9, my parents would do “fire drills” from time to time, just like we did in school! They would sound the fire alarm in the middle of the night and we had to get to the easiest exit as soon as possible and meet at our designated meet spot far away from the house! Our Dad even taught us how to army crawl and cover our mouth/nose with our shirt as we did it JUST IN CASE we had to! I always thought it was fun to act out! But as an adult I see what a great idea it is to have something set in place in case of a disaster! You never know what could happen!
You are doing great, Mama! Thanks for all of the awesome tips!
LOVE that your parents did that! Totally stealing that idea!! Thanks for sharing!
elsie larson says
Great post!!! 🙂
Leslie Thomas says
Great advice! I was too nervous to take a CPR class with my first (oops!) but am expecting my second and just completed a course. It ended up being no big deal and has given me so much confidence to be able to handle an emergency in the future! And who doesn’t need a boost in the mom confidence department!?
Totally agree! It’s intimidating but SO worth it!!
I am so curious about the discipline question! So interesting and definitely something parents should talk about before having a kid… but what do you say when they ask about it? Like “I will say xyz but not in an overly loud or aggressive tone”??? Every situation requiring discipline is so different!!
Also I think it’s crazy that here in NYC you cannot be discharged from the hospital without a car seat and yet infant choking/cpr is not required.
It’s more of like a big-picture what discipline methods are you ok with/what are you against type conversation and a way of setting general guidelines for yourselves as a parenting team.
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