Q: We have a cat and a dog. Will this pose a problem for our home study–or after we bring our child home?
A: Not if they have been vaccinated and are well-socialized. Some states may require you to include a certificate of vaccination with your home study paperwork.
The social worker who visits you will observe your pets. She will ask how they interact with youngsters, and may suggest ways to prepare them for the new addition. For example, following the advice of their veterinarian, one couple I worked with bought a lifelike baby doll and held it frequently in the company of their two dogs.
After your child comes home, watch your pets closely. Do not leave them loose and unattended around a baby. Most pets adjust well after a child joins the home.
You should also be prepared for unexpected outcomes. If an animal becomes territorial and vicious, it should be relocated. Some parents have expressed concern that removing an animal from their home might damage a child’s sense of security. But your first priority is to keep your little one safe. If you explain, she will understand. You should also anticipate the possibility that your child may be allergic to your beloved pet. Discuss these rare outcomes, and what you’ll do in either case, with your social worker. For now, enjoy your animals–and your home study–and know they should not be a problem.