What is a Home Study?
With few exceptions, everyone that wants to adopt a child they aren’t closely related to needs a home study. A home study is a document that summarizes the evaluation of an individual or couple for suitability to adopt. The process includes interviews, background checks and other documentation (details below), and home visits. Then a 6-15 page written summary is prepared.This may go to your attorney, an agency, and/or the judge finalizing your adoption.
At AdoptionLife.org we specialize in home studies for domestic infant adoptions. We have experienced and helpful adoption professionals that can walk you through the home study process from beginning to end. We will help evaluate and educate you through the process.
Although there are many ways to conduct a home study, here is a basic idea of what you may experience:
The individual or couple hoping to adopt will be interviewed as an individual and/or couple, Additionally, all members of the household will typically be interviewed individually. Interviews may happen in your home and/or the office of your agency or adoption professional.
The purpose of the interviews is to learn as much about the family as possible. Questions range from fairly benign information to very personal information. They may follow up on some difficult subjects like criminal records, relationships, past abuse, and mental health. The adoption professional is going to legally attest to your suitability to adopt a child and needs to know you very deeply to be able to do that accurately.
There’s often a lot of paperwork to do for a home study. Some of it is required by the law, some by the agency or adoption professional. It is all intended to verify information about your suitability to adopt. Get a full list of the necessary documentation from your adoption professional at the beginning of the process. This will help you organize the documents and get them gathered as soon as possible. Also, it’s usually best you start working on criminal and child abuse background checks immediately.
Typical documents needed are:
- Criminal (Local, State, and/or Federal) Background checks
- Child abuse checks
- Birth Certificates
- Tax Returns, W-2s, Financial statements, etc
- Employer Verification or Letter from an accountant if you are Self-employed
- Marriage Certificates
- Divorce Decrees
- Medical reports
- Letters of Reference
Many people get very nervous about the actual home visit but most adoption professionals aren’t looking for perfection. They just want to see a safe home that has room for another child or children.
Some things you can do to prepare (but may not be required):
- Clean up but understand that this visit is generally not going to be a white glove check.
- Check/get smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers. They may not be required but they’re still a good idea to have. Perhaps even have a discussion with your family beforehand about a fire safety/escape plan.
- You may have some potential hazards in your home like pools, firearms, remodeling, etc. Identify these potential hazards and be prepared to discuss with the worker.
Home studies can feel overwhelming but when you remember that the intent is to keep children safe, it can be easier to deal with. Work closely with your adoption professional and you should be able to get it completed in a timely manner. Also, remember, the more flexible you are with meeting times, the more quickly your adoption professional can meet with you.
Stay in contact with your adoption professional and realize that most of them are looking for a reason to approve you and not to reject you.