Preparing For Adoption How to Get Your Home Ready for a New Family Member
Child adoption can be a very rewarding experience for you and the child. Having a child gives you the opportunity to learn new skills and pass on your knowledge to a new generation. Adopted children usually come from a difficult background. Your contribution to the child’s life can turn them around and save them from an uncertain future.
Preparing for adoption can also be rewarding, even if it takes some time and effort. You could work with multiple law firms to prepare for adoption.
- You will need a family law firm to prepare the adoption paperwork and represent you at the adoption hearing.
- If your adopted child was born in another country, you will need an immigration lawyer to prepare the child’s immigration applications so the child can enter and stay in the U.S.
- You will need an estate lawyer to prepare a will so a court will know who is to take custody of your child if something happens to you.
In addition to the legal preparation, you will need to change your life and home for your new child. Here are some ways you can get your home ready for your new family member.
Make Necessary Repairs
In most states, preparing for adoption includes preparing for a home visit from your state’s family services division. Family services will send a social worker to investigate your home and interview you. If you are married, family services will also interview your spouse.
The social worker who visits your home will make sure your home is clean and safe. This means that you will need to fix any obvious problems before the home visit. Social workers are looking for you to provide at least the basics including:
- Shelter: Your home needs to be in good condition. If your roof leaks, call a roof repair service.
- Electricity: Your home needs to provide electric service for lights, heating, and cooling.
- Water: You should have clean running water. Clean water is essential for sanitation and a home without functioning plumbing is unhealthy.
- Heating and cooling: In most climates, you will need heating in the winter or cooling in the summer. In some climates you will need both. HVAC companies can inspect your heating and cooling system and make sure everything is working for your home visit.
Most importantly, you home should be clean. If necessary, hire a cleaning service to get rid of some difficult stains, deep clean your carpets, and wipe down your walls. But make sure your home is sparkling clean when family services arrives for your home visit.
Once you pass your home visit, family services will prepare a report for the family court judge handling your child’s adoption. The judge will consider this report when deciding whether to grant your adoption petition. If the report is positive, you can check one box on your list of things you need to do when preparing for adoption.
Clean Up Your Yard
A messy yard can pose a danger to a child. The risks from a messy yard include:
- Animals: A messy yard can give pests like insects, snakes, and rodents a place to live. A child playing in a messy yard can be susceptible to bites that can harm the child and transmit diseases.
- Sharp objects: Long grass and weeds can conceal sharp objects like nails. These objects can cut your child and cause an infection or tetanus.
- Falling hazards: A child can trip over rocks, bricks, or other objects in a messy yard. These falls could result in cuts, scrapes, and even broken bones.
- Other risks: If you store stuff in your yard, a child could become trapped under or inside these objects.
A landscaping service can provide you with the assistance you need to clean up your yard and make it safe for children. They can clean up overgrown plants, cut your grass, and plant gardens that are easy to care for. More importantly, they can give you and your child a safe and fun place to play outside.
Create a Bedroom
Every child needs a bedroom. Even if your adopted child is still an infant, you should design a space for the child while you are preparing for adoption.
Pediatricians recommend that infants sleep in their own crib or bassinette in their parents’ bedroom for the first six months to one year after birth. But even if your child sleeps in your room, you will probably need a place for the child’s toys, changing table, and clothing. Your child should also have a place to play and nap.
For older children, a bedroom is a must. Older children need their own space. They must also begin to play independently and learn how to take care of their possessions. Giving a child a bedroom, even if it is shared with a sibling, will help to promote all those values.
Renovating a bedroom for your child is one option. Another option is to hire home building contractors to build an addition to your home. In either case, a child’s bedroom should be comfortable and interesting. Your child’s room will be their space and should be furnished for them. Some of the things your child’s bedroom should have include:
- Bed: Your child should have a child-sized bed that the child can climb into and out of without help. If your adopted child is an infant, you should have a child-safe crib with secure open sides to minimize the risk of suffocation.
- Bright colors: Bright colors on the walls and furniture stimulate a child’s eyes and mind.
- Dresser: Children often find dressers to be easier to store their clothes than closets. They can reach and operate drawers, whereas they are often too short to hang their clothes up. Moreover, closets can pose a safety risk for children who have to climb up to hang their clothes.
- Book shelves: Built-in book shelves are safer than bookcases. Children should have a place to keep their books, awards, and trophies. Preparing for adoption means preparing for your child’s entire lifetime.
A designated play area is necessary when you are preparing for adoption. Your child needs a safe place to play that is free from obstacles they can fall over, bump their heads on, or put into their mouths.
When designing a play area, look to how day care centers design their play areas. You should have:
- A place to store toys: Toys left out can be a hazard to you and to your child. Moreover, having a place to store toys can help you child learn responsibility in keeping their area clean.
- An open area: Some toys and games require space. An open area allows your child to run around and play safely.
- Boundaries: Whether the play area is in the child’s room, a play room, or the middle of the living room, your play area should include boundaries. Children’s toys have a way of spreading through the home. Keeping them contained helps you keep the home safe and tidy.
Child-proofing Your Home
Child-proofing is critically important when you are preparing for adoption. Whatever the age of your child, you should consider taking safety measures appropriate for the child’s age. For example:
- Infants: For infants, child-proofing a home requires a lot of care. Infants will put anything into their mouths, pull on anything, and try to crawl anywhere. You need to secure electrical cords and curtain drawstrings. You should install baby gates near stairs or anywhere else your child should not be. You should anchor furniture and appliances, like TVs and bookcases, that can be pulled over easily.
- Toddlers: Check for sharp corners on furniture. Lock cabinets that have heavy objects, cleaning products, or other dangers inside. Latch your windows and lock your doors when you are inside with your child. Put medications away in cabinets that are locked or out of your child’s reach. Install safety plugs in your wall sockets.
- Preschoolers: Keep lighters and matches out of reach. Teach children not to touch the stove, oven, or microwave without your supervision. Lock up firearms or move them outside the home. Use safety latches on windows and consider installing chains on doors to prevent children from wandering.
Child-proofing your home should begin early in your process of preparing for adoption. As you live with the child, you will find other safety hazards that need to be addressed.
Child-proofing Your Yard
Child-proofing your yard is also essential when preparing for adoption. Once your yard is cleaned up, calling a fencing company to install a sturdy fence can help keep your yard safe for your child.
Keep in mind that fencing must serve a few purposes when you choose your fence:
- Contain your children: A fence should keep you children away from the street and stop them from wandering away. It can also provide a barrier while they are running and playing so they do not lose track of where they are.
- Keep strangers out of your yard: Although it might not keep someone out of your yard who really wants to come in, it can keep someone from wandering into your yard. More importantly, it creates a barrier between strangers and your children while they play in your yard. A fence can also keep your pets in, while keeping strange pets out.
- Contain your children’s toys: Remember that one of the most common causes for children entering traffic is when they chase balls or other toys into the street. By fencing your yard, you prevent toys from getting away from your children and escaping into the roadways.
Chain link fences can perform all those functions. But some people do not like the aesthetics of chain link fences. Vinyl fences provide a cleaner, nicer look, but can be expensive. Regardless of which fence you choose, make sure you check your local building code to make sure your fencing is legal for your area before you install it.
Child-proof Your Garage
Sometimes people forget about the dangers that can lurk in the garage. But for people preparing for adoption of older children, the garage can be one of the most dangerous places in the home.
Some of the ways you can make your garage safer for children include:
- Throw out old paint and other dangerous chemicals or store them out of reach of children. Some chemicals are so toxic, even very small amounts can kill or seriously injure children.
- Check your garage door’s sensors. Garage doors use optical sensors to determine if anyone is under the door when it is closing and pressure sensors to detect something blocking the door. Without these sensors, the garage door can crush a child. If the sensors are defective, contact a local garage door installation company to repair or replace the sensors.
- Move power tools out of the reach of children or lock them up. Children are curious and older children can easily misuse power tools to injure themselves or others.
- If you store firearms in your garage, use trigger locks and/or gun safes to keep them locked up. Never store firearms loaded with children around. Statistics show that guns are 11 times more likely to be used in an accidental shooting or suicide than to stop an intruder.
Remodel Your Kitchen and Dining Room
Meet with your accounting services and see if you have the money to remodel your kitchen and dining room. Your family will spend more time in the kitchen than any other room in the home, particularly if your kitchen is part of an open plan where you can dine and watch TV from your kitchen. By providing a comfortable family space, your family will spend more time together. In fact, more than 80% of people who have completed a kitchen renovation report that they have a greater desire to spend time at home.
Plan to spend more time cooking for your family while you are preparing for adoption. Home cooked meals are cheaper and healthier than takeout or restaurant meals. Specifically:
- They are lower in fat
- The portion sizes are more reasonable.
- They are more balanced with vegetables and fruits.
- They can take account of food sensitivities and allergies.
- They use less salt and added sugars.
In addition to keeping your kids healthy, eating together also has important social and emotional benefits. Children who eat family meals:
- Are less likely to have eating disorders or experience obesity.
- Have lower rates of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco use.
- Have better communication skills.
- Perform better in school.
- Retain better eating habits into adulthood.
- Have lower risk of depression.
- Eat healthier and exercise more than their peers.
So, by preparing for adoption by providing a comfortable and functional area to cook and eat, you can set your children up for a healthy life.
As a parent, you can have an incredible impact on your child’s life. This is even more true for adoptive parents. You have the chance to provide your adopted child with the love, support, and material resources that the child’s biological parents might not have been able to provide.
As you are preparing for adoption by making legal arrangements, do not forget to make living arrangements as well. Children of all ages require special adaptations and accommodations in your home to keep them safe and provide a healthy and nurturing environment. Giving your child a safe home and making sure your child has functional and stimulating activities, you can set your child on a path to a healthy and successful life.