Gay Dad Life

I Just Completed the Home Study. Here's What I Learned

This gay dad-to-be recently completed the home study and he's sharing everything he learned from the experience.

I'm not sure why, but it doesn't seem like anyone ever talks about the home study. Perhaps I glossed over the provision in all of the paperwork that comes along with adoption that says that talking about home study is taboo. Or maybe there's an unspoken agreement – “the first rule of home study is: you do not talk about home study."

Well…I'm breaking that rule.


Ken (left) and Alex (right) at Muir Woods National Park

My husband and I started the adoption process about a year ago. We just finished our home study, and our profile is now being shown to expectant birth mothers. Our agency conducted the home study in a series of three visits, each of which was about an hour and a half in duration. Here's what I learned from each of these visits:

Visit #1: It's Not About How Clean Your House Is

We were incredibly nervous for our first home study visit. Our nervousness covered the whole spectrum of things that could go wrong. What if our house doesn't meet the standards required by our agency or the state? What if we're asked a question that we don't have a good answer for? What if the dog fur on the floor disqualifies us? Most of our worries were unfounded, but the home study is a big deal. We had to worry.

Friends had told us the home study is not a “white glove test." Still, it's spring, so we've got a pretty significant amount of dog fur. And, in general, we don't want to look like complete slobs. So, because we were concerned about a dirty house disqualifying us, we cleaned and vacuumed the night before our first visit. As it turns out, cleaning was largely unnecessary. Our social worker did not say one word about cleanliness. (Seriously…not even a compliment about how shiny the countertops were.)

Our social work told us something very early in her visit that put us at ease almost immediately. She told us that a lot of people ask when they'll find out if they've passed. Then she told us that, basically, we'd already passed---she wouldn't be here if we hadn't.

Our first visit involved a discussion about my husband and me. We sat in our living room and just talked. The discussion was natural. We discussed our relationship: how we met, why we clicked, what we like about each other, areas of our relationship that we can work on, etc. We quickly discovered that this portion of the home study was not about our home---it was about us. Ultimately, she needed to ascertain what kind of fathers we will be. Of course, she is concerned with how safe our home will be for our child. But this first visit, at least, was not about that.

Alex taking Chace for a bike ride in the Houndabout

Visit #2: Mistakes Are Learning Opportunities

For the second visit, we met individually with our social worker at her office. Once again, we were all nerves before this visit. We thought the agency was trying to catch us in some type of fatherhood prisoner's dilemma. I did talk about my husband a little bit during my meeting, but the interaction was largely focused on my broader family, some of who have rather colorful histories.

"Just because a family member has spent a night or two in jail," I found myself saying to her, "it doesn't mean they'll be a terrible influence on my child."

At a certain point I could sense that our social worker probably agreed. That realization made me feel much more at ease with the conversation. At one point I said, “I feel like I'm portraying my family as a terrible group of people." (They're not terrible people.)

“You cannot change your past or your family's past,"Our social worker responded. "What you can do is recognize the learning opportunities that both you and your family have presented and grow from those experiences."

That is some good advice.

Ken (front) and Alex (back) canoeing in Madison

Visit #3: Your Home Doesn't Need to be Spotless... But it Does Need to Be Safe

The third and final visit was back in our home, where our social worker visited with us for about an hour. She had a few follow up questions from previous visits. We also briefly talked about the couple of missing documents that she needed to appease the state.

Then we walked through our house. My husband and I just built our home, so our social worker didn't have much to check in the way of compliance with building code. Still, she checked out the first floor living space, and we talked about our plans to convert what is now our office into a play room. She made sure the bedrooms and bathrooms meet state minimum requirements. We told her that the nursery is the only room in the house that we didn't paint when we moved in; we're waiting to see if we're having a boy or a girl. And we showed her our vision for how the nursery will be laid out. She also looked in the basement.

***

Is “home study" a misnomer? Maybe. We spent very little time focusing on our actual home. Perhaps “are-you-going-to-be-good-fathers study" was already taken. Regardless, don't lose sleep worrying about your home study. And when you do inevitably lose sleep worrying about your home study anyway, know that by virtue of having a home study, you're in the home stretch.

Read more:

Adoption Glossary: Terms Every Adoptive Parent Needs to Know

Path to Gay Fatherhood: The Adoptive Dad

Thinking About Adoption But Don't Know Where to Start?

Show Comments ()
Expert Advice

Your 15 Most Common Questions About Adoption, Answered by an Expert

We asked our Instagram community for their biggest questions about adoption. Then asked Molly Rampe Thomas of Choice Network to answer them.

As part of our new "Ask an Expert" series on Instagram, our community of dads and dads-to-be sent us their questions on adoption in the United States. Molly Rampe Thomas, founder of Choice Network, answered them.

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Adoption

5 Things to Keep in Mind When Preparing for Your Home Study

Molly Rampe Thomas of Choice Network lists the 5 things gay men should keep in mind when preparing for your home study

The homestudy is the first step in the adoption process. In every state the homestudy is done a little differently, but all of them have the some combo of paperwork, trainings, and interviews. The homestudy can take anywhere from 2 months to 6 months to complete. Without it, you cannot adopt.

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Adoption

Adopting in the United States: A Guide for Gay Couples and Singles

Thinking about adopting in the United States? Check out this overview of domestic adoption for gay men.

Thinking about adoption? Gay men have more opportunities and options than ever before, but to be successful it is vital to know your options and understand the landscape of adoptions today.

Keep reading... Show less

Today is National Coming Out Day, and as we celebrate, we're sharing six coming out stories from dads in our community. Their personal stories are heartwarming, relatable, and empowering. Happy Coming Out Day, and remember, live your truth!

Keep reading... Show less
Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Growing a Thicker Skin

Experiencing hateful and hurtful comments, Erik Alexander had to learn an important lesson: how to ignore the trolls.

Photo credit: BSA Photography

Twenty years ago when I came out, it was unbearably hard. As I have written before, I am from the Deep South. Anyone who dared to deviate from social norms was sure to be ostracized. It's not that these people were born hateful or mean; rather, it probably had more to do with them not being subjected to other lifestyles. Anything different from their own experiences sparked fear and confusion. Homosexuality, interracial relationships, religious differences – these were all unfamiliar territories to the average person I grew up around. Thus, growing up was particularly difficult.

I remember lying in bed at night when I was a little boy. I would pray and beg God to not let me be gay. Every single night I would end my prayers with "... and God, please don't let me have nightmares and please don't let me be gay." I remember crying myself to sleep many nights. I was embarrassed and ashamed. And I wanted God to cure me.

Keep reading... Show less
Change the World

10 Inspiring Coming Out Stories From Gay Dads

Happy National Coming Out Day! To celebrate, we've rounded up some of our recent stories about gay men with kids coming out to live their most authentic lives.

Happy National Coming Out Day! To celebrate, we've rounded up some of our best articles of gay dads coming out to live their authentic lives.

#1. Former NFL Player Jeff Rohrer, and Father of Two, Comes Out as Gay and Marries Longterm Partner


Jeff Rohrer, a father of two teenage boys via a previous relationship with a woman, is the first NFL player to marry another man. Read the article here.

#2. Coming Out to His Wife Was Painful, Says This Salt Lake-Based Dad of Four. But it Started Him on a Path of Authenticity

After Kyle came out to his wife, with whom he has four children, "she listened, she mourned and she loved," he said. Read the article here.

#3. Gay Dads Share Their Coming Out Stories for National Coming Out Day

We asked several gay dads to share their coming out stories in honor of National Coming Out Day, whose stories are heartwarming, instructive, and everything in between. Read the article here.

#4. Gay Muslim Single Dad Writes Op Ed on His Path to Self Acceptance

Maivon Wahid writes about the challenges of reconciling three separate, but equally important, identities in an opinion piece for Gay Star News. Read the article here.

#5. One Gay Dad's Path Towards Realizing Being Gay and Christian are Not Mutually Exclusive

Gay dads Matt and David Clark-Sally talk about coming out, parenting as gay men, and reconciling faith and sexuality. Read the article here.

#6. Republican Utah Lawmaker, and Dad of Two, Comes Out as Gay in Moving Video

Nathan Ivie has many important identities he's proud of: Mormon, Republican, Utahn, father of two... and gay. Read the article here.

#7. How Coming Out Helped This Gay Man Find the Strength to Be a Dad

Steven Kerr shares the moment he came out to his ex-girlfriend. "From that moment on," he writes, "my strength and purpose have grown." Read the article here.

#8. Ed Smart, Father of Kidnapping Victim Elizabeth Smart, Comes Out as Gay

In coming his coming out letter, Ed Smart, a Mormon, condemned the church for their "ridicule, shunning, rejection and outright humiliation" of LGBTQ individuals. Read the article here.

#9. The Best Part of Coming Out, Says This Gay Dad, Is Being an Out and Proud Role Model for His Daughter

"I couldn't face myself in the mirror and think that I could be a good dad and role model for my child when I was lying to myself every moment of every day," said Nate Wormington of his decision to come out. Read the article here.

#10. These Gay Dads Via Previous Marriages Have Adopted a Motto Since Coming Out and Finding Each Other: "United We Stand"

Vincent and Richard both had children in previous marriages with women; together, with their ex-wives, they are helping raise seven beautiful kids. Read the article here.

Gay Dad Life

8 Ways for Dads to Find Work/Life Balance

Finding work/life balance is hard enough... but can be even harder for gay dads.

Having kids is an amazing part of life, and it should be fun. Life does tend to get in the way sometimes, and one huge aspect of that is work. Striking that balance between work and home life is tough. If you both work it's even harder.

And if you're a gay couple, it can have it's own set of problems above and beyond the standard work-life issues that people face. Recently, the Harvard Business Review conducted a study that focused specifically on the experiences of same-sex couples who wanted to make moves towards a work/life balance.

Keep reading... Show less

Fatherhood, the gay way

Get the latest from Gays With Kids delivered to your inbox!

Follow Gays With Kids

Powered by RebelMouse