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Old House, Not Too Kid Friendly...Stressed About Home Study

I e-mailed our home study agency yesterday, and they told me that once our (extensive!) paperwork is submitted, they expect that our home study can be complete within 6 weeks.

I am stressed about our house. It was built in 1936, and something is always in disrepair. We’ve been trying to slowly renovate and remodel for years, but there’s always something on the “to do” list. I would love to just move, but now is not the time for that.

My question is, what kinds of things do I need to make *sure* to have in place for the home study? A lot of our interior doors are warped and don’t lock. The railing leading up some steps into our front yard is broken. The tub surround in our upstairs bathroom needs replaced. Most of our windows won’t open (they are original to the house, and used some kind of rope and weight system).

Will they go in our basement? Will they look in our closets?



We will be going through the home inspection portion of our homestudy in the next few weeks so I feel your pain!  Especially since our home was built in 1859! 

I posted a similar question yesterday and many folks on there said they just look at the basics- is your home clean and safe?  That means a room for the child, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, etc.

I doubt they will try to open your windows and I wouldn’t volunteer any of this information without asking.  I think you should put some of these projects at the top of your “to do” list for sure but I don’t think you should worry about getting it done before your homestudy.

Good luck!

Posted by HoldingOnToHope on May 16, 2013 at 9:36pm

Our home was built in 1867 and has all sorts of quirks.  but we love it!  We’ve been homestudied twice for adoptions 11 years apart… and the house passed inspection both times.  The main thing is for your house to be CLEAN and cozy.  Any safety issues need to be fixed—and should be for the family already living in the house!—such as:  windows should be able to open (how would you get out in a fire, for instance; our social workers asked about a fire escape plan and we had to show that we had those collapsible ladders for the upstairs windows, an arranged meeting place outside the home, and fire extinguishers on all levels of the house).  I’d fix the broken porch railing; that shouldn’t be too expensive for a handyman to rebuild. Doors that don’t lock shouldn’t be a problem; none of ours lock.  The closets in the children’s room should be cleaned out and ready for the child at the time of placement—but don’t need to be emptied beforehand.  They should be neat, though; our social workers definitely wanted to see the closets in the children’s room.  Also:  kitchen cupboards should be clean, and the garage…  Make sure your garage can be locked so any paint or yard chemicals, etc., and tools, will not be accessible to children.  We had a large fountain in our yard that I worried might be considered a ‘water feature’ without a locking cover… so before the inspection we drained the fountain and bought some nice, large, potted plants—and set them into the fountain so it became a pretty stone planter!

I have no doubt you’ll pass your home inspection, but even if you don’t, you’ll just be given a list of what needs to be fixed before you WILL pass.  So you’ll know what you need to attend to.  Best of luck!

Posted by VintageMom on May 16, 2013 at 9:52pm

Our home was damaged by Hurricane Sandy last October. Our entire first floor was gutted - there is still plywood covering the floors and no sheetrock on the walls. We passed the home study without any problem. We explained to the social worker that we are waiting for architectural plans and building permits and that we expect to repair/renovate our home through the end of this year. The home study seemed more about us than about our home. I told my wife not to stress out about it - she didn’t listen but afterwards she agreed that it was not what she feared it would be. Don’t worry about it!

Posted by JimGL33 on May 16, 2013 at 11:49pm

Thanks for the responses. I’m a little concerned about our bedroom situation. Basically, the room that would have to be a nursery has no closet. We would get a large bureau and chest of drawers for in there. Hope that’s no problem, but IDK. Did I mention that we have five indoor cats? And a turtle? And a lizard? Nobody is ever going to let us have a kid, are they? Haha.

Posted by OurHappyLife on May 17, 2013 at 12:02am

OurHappyLife, you’re doing private domestic adoption, right? Chances are, your home study agency isn’t going to care. All we *had* to have in place were the smoke detectors. The SW didn’t even care to look at the baby’s room; he was content to know that it was there. We never had baby gates up. We still don’t have the place babyproofed. Our SW never saw our garage, never saw any of our closets, never went into our room. He did check to make sure the hot tub was locked. Seriously, it’s more about you and about making sure the house isn’t about to be condemned.

Posted by rredhead on May 17, 2013 at 1:29am

We adopted from the foster care system in CA, and they did look in the closets!  We had two rooms set up for the children, and one of them is a little quirky space carved out of an alcove, with a small door and a built in twin bed… (the kids call it the Hobbit Room)!  It has a built in cupboard and shelves which are great for toys and books, but no real closet.  We added a long dresser and a free-standing wardrobe… and the room was approved.  We also had to have smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors installed…  Then we were good to go, and you will be too!

Posted by VintageMom on May 17, 2013 at 1:40am


We’re starting out that way, yeah. We may decide to switch to international (China SN program) if domestic open adoption isn’t working out for us. By “not working out”, I mean that we might make the decision to switch over if we’re having lots of failed matches, losing money, worried about legal stuff, etc.

I guess I need to just ask our home study agency what they’re going to be looking for. They have been super quick to answer all my questions. They seem very thorough. I’m very impressed with their application. Wanna see?


Posted by OurHappyLife on May 17, 2013 at 2:05am

Yes, I think it is worth having an idea how strict your home study agency are before they visit.

I had similar concerns before our home study.  We live in a high rise, on one of the highest floors, with two accessible balconies.  The babies room is currently a study.  We have lots of very sharp furniture and some chemicals in our cupboards, plants etc. 

Before the home visit I emailed the agency asking how prepared our apartment needed to be for a baby.  I explained that we had a “very adult” apartment currently. 

I was told that we needed to be able to demonstrate what changes we were going to make by the time the baby arrived but the apartment did not need to be set up as if baby was arriving tomorrow. 

After all, the home study to the actual adoption can take a year or more!

On the day of the home study I walked her through room by room and explained how we would: removed plants, put locks on cupboards with chemicals, knives etc, put a second bolt on all the windows/doors to the outside, volunteered where the fire alarms were etc. 

The agency were very happy with this approach, but then we did have an excellent home study agency.  Finding out what your agency expects will probably help reduce the stress. 

BTW - if you have cats make it clear that when the baby naps the cats won’t be in the room and the door will be closed. I absolutely love cats, but they have been known to accidentally smother babies by jumping in the crib and cuddling up.

Posted by twoneoncats on May 17, 2013 at 3:18am

I had my home study complete 5 months ago.  They want to make sure you have smoke dectors (& carbon dioxide dector for IL), a window in the child’s room, who will share the room with the child, does the child’s room have a closet.  They do look at your basement but they are not intrusive. They do not try to open windows, they do not look in your closets.

Posted by Triley5 on May 17, 2013 at 7:34pm

We had our first homestudy in 1995, then another in 1997 or so, now we are looking at foster to adopt and had a homestudy done last year, then moved, and had to have another home inspection, and another homestudy update (also because we changed agencies).  Everyone has always been very nice from the social workers to the fire department guys doing the fire inspection.  They want you to succeed and be able to help others.  They aren’t trying to make it difficult, for many of them, this is just a small thing they can do to help.  Like someone else said, at worst, they’ll leave you a list of things to do before you can finish.

Oh, and no one has *ever* asked to look in our closets.

Posted by John Partridge on May 17, 2013 at 8:04pm

4 cats, 2 birds, and 5 fish here! the social worker wasn’t thrilled with the number of cats, but it’s perfectly legal where I live (you’re not allowed more than 5). just make sure the cat boxes are clean and the home smells fresh! they didn’t look in my garage or closets; the basement was messy and yucky, but they expect that so it’s ok.  having a closet in the nursery isn’t a problem; you need a bed, dresser, and at least one window. if it makes you feel better, the hot water heater broke the day of my homestudy and I didn’t know it until the social worker was testing the hot water! I got it fixed and they came out the next week to clear me. best of luck, let us know how it goes.

Posted by rn4kidz on May 18, 2013 at 4:55pm

3 English Bulldogs, 2 bearded dragons and a buttload of fish tanks here.  So long as your child is not allergic, and you have your shot records, you’re good to go.  Most kids are into animals. 
As for the no closet in the nursery…’s not a prerequisite, so long as you have a clean place to store their belongings.

Posted by AnnMarieJ on May 24, 2013 at 6:14pm

With all the possible things they may ask you to repair I would make sure it’s clean and neat and let them tell you what they want. State regulations for child safety center around the obvious. How many square feet of private space per child in the home. How many children per bathroom? Is the hot water a safe temperature? Is there any lead or asbestos in the home? We had to get a pressure test of the gas system, a furnace and AC inspection, and an electrical inspection. here was a separate food safety inspection. Are all food items at least 6” off the floor? Is there a working thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer and are they set at the correct temperature? Are there obvious child hazards in the yard? (pool, hot tub, dangerous equipment not stored) The only thing you mentioned that I know would be a problem here in Texas would be the broken railing on the front steps. Oh, smoke alarms in every bedroom and in the hallway leading to the bedroom. Is your car insurance current? They may check for current license plates and inspection stickers for any vehicle a child might ride in.
I hope this info helps, best wishes.

Posted by hdctx on May 24, 2013 at 6:37pm

Sorry I forgot we also had an inspection by the county fire marshal, and he did check whether the windows opened and wanted to see our fire escape plan. He asked our kids what the plan was and chided us for not documenting bi-monthly fire drills.  The worst was when he set off a smoke detector and a younger child asked “what’s that” LOL.

Posted by hdctx on May 24, 2013 at 6:41pm

Some of this sounds crazy!  I think it depends on the agency and your state laws.  We live in VA and we are having our homestudy next Wednesday.  Our SW walked us through what she will be looking for- smoke detectors in all the “main” rooms (I need to email her to find out what exactly that means), that the child has a room (she didn’t say a thing about a closet), meds can’t be near food, cleaning supplies must be locked up and also can’t be near food.  That’s all she mentioned that pertains to us (she also mentioned pools, hot tubs and guns).  In VA, carbon monoxide detectors are not required.

The best thing is to ask them what they will be looking for because it obviously varies by state and by agency.

Posted by HoldingOnToHope on May 24, 2013 at 7:10pm

we are doing foster. We have to do another lead test in our house Wednesday. They said no wood windows with string they won’t pass. No peeling paint -in or out- so we painted the garage, got rid of one window, and need replace one more (this weekend) Our house was built in 1922 so there will be lead. I am freaking out. we have a baby waiting for us in another foster home. I hope we pass inspection on Wed.

Posted by diane0001 on May 25, 2013 at 5:35pm

No, I like to study in the home. You can make your time for things you want to do. And it is excellent. I think that home study one of the best way of basic education. I have my first essay written by myself without any help when I have started to study at home. Before that, I was using one of the for essays. Excellent tools, but they can’t teach you how to write. But there they have really professional writers, I would say.

Posted by MonicaCrane on Apr 15, 2019 at 8:38am

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