Imagine, if you would, that you are hosting a guest in your home. Imagine that this guest will inspect every room in your home. Then imagine that this guest gets to decide if you are awesome enough to parent a child.
That is the joy of a home study.
Well, that is not actually how it goes, but that is how it feels. In actuality, the social workers we have had have all been lovely people. That doesn't prevent the panic from setting in a couple of weeks before the visit.
The problem is that I know everyone else goes cleaning crazy for home study visits. If I didn't, I imagine the social worker thinking, "Is this as good as it gets after mandatory-reporter level cleaning?"
Why don't all adoptive parents make a pact that they will only wash a few dishes and scrub the bathroom before their home study visit so we are all on the same playing field. Then I won't feel a compulsion to Martha Stewartize my home before the social worker comes. Who am I kidding? You can't Martha a home with seven kids in it. But you know I'm going to try.
Let's be clear. My home is not Hoarders-worthy. In the last hour before company comes over, I usually resort to a frantically shouted, "Just throw that in my bedroom and close the door." with the spare odds and ends that just hadn't gotten put away. If I invite you over, you can count on me being sweaty and slightly out of breath when I answer the door due to my last minute tidying. That just doesn't cut it when the social worker looks in your bedroom. And office. And laundry room. And playroom...
Just getting all caught up with laundry should have been a laudable enough goal.
Instead I organized all the crafting supplies. I purged bags of clothing. I replaced all my dead plants. I painted furniture, people.
|I even cleaned my closet, even though home study visits don't involve looking through closets or drawers. That is what home study neuroses will do to a girl.|
And if that wasn't enough, I baked some pretty awesome cookies and pulled them out of the oven five minutes before the social worker pulled in front of the house.
Do you want to know how long the home tour took? Less than three minutes.
When I came home from a meeting later that night, there was no hiding the fact that seven little people live in this house.
Fortunately, even if adoptive parents forget in the haze of Windex and Soft Scrub, home visits are not there to assess if your home could be featured in a decorating magazine. They are there to assess if you would be a good family for a child who needs one. They want you to succeed. They don't want to judge a stray sock or a Lego piece on the floor (Unless they stepped on it - those things hurt like the devil.)