The home safety inspection was the most stressful part of the home study process for me personally. Not because our home is unsafe just because I felt the need to be sure and make sure we were ready for anything that might come up.
During the adoption training, or at some point along the line, families are given the Home Safety Inspection Check list. The state children’s services will outline all the rules and regulations about your home and the requirements for having children placed to live in your home. There is usually a definition of how much living space is required for each child living in your home and rules about sleeping arrangements.
Families need to have an escape plan made and posted in the event of fire or disaster. Along with the proper number of working smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. It is also advised families practice often and have fire drills.
Cleaning products and medications should be kept in a safe locking cabinet or in another safe location. Tools and equipment should be stored in a way children will not have access to them. If you own a fire arm you will be asked to show it to the inspector and you will be asked to show where it is kept and that any ammunition is kept in a separate place. Most states will ask that any interior doors that lock are replaced with knobs that do not lock. The fear is that a child can lock him or herself behind them or worse–you.
While you do not have to have a spotless home the cleanliness and order of your home will be noted. Any clear and obvious safety issues will be brought to your attention and you will have an opportunity to fix the problem.
In our case the home inspection was when were asked to make certain agreements about how we would discipline the children in our home. We were asked to provide emergency contact information and have this information posted someplace in our home at all times. Confidentiality agreements were also given to us because during the time after the child is placed and until the adoption is final we must abide by certain rules of confidentiality for the child.
In every state there is a post placement supervision period. Usually six months or longer and during this time the state maintains custody and pre-adoptive families will have at least a once a month visit by the child’s caseworker or another social service representative. During this post placement period the Home Safety requirements will have ongoing inspections and families will need to continue to meet the minimum standards outlined in the requirements.
I personally, took this planning way too serious and ended up with safety equipment I do not regret having but was not required to purchase. We live in a two story home and the fire escape plans were very difficult for me to not get carried away with. We purchased escape ladders for each upstairs bedroom window. We also installed smoke detectors in each bedroom which was not required but is recommended.
Once the home safety inspection was completed it was added to the other documents in our home study package and sent to the state main office for certification. When our home study was certified by the state about six weeks later we were than able to start looking at the bulletins and profiles of children we could ask to be considered as possible adoptive parents.
We took our training in November of 2001, turned in our Adoption Application in February 2002 and finished our home study in August 2002. We were able to start looking at the waiting children in our state in October 2002 nearly a full year after we started our process.