What is an adoption home study?

All states require prospective adoptive parents to complete a home study, regardless of the type of adoption they are considering. The home study allows the state to educate the adoptive parents on the adoption process, evaluates the ability of the parents to care for a child, and allows the social worker to match a child to the right home where the needs of the child will be best met.

What will be done at the home study? The specifics of the home study process can vary from agency to agency and from state to state. If you are adopting internationally the child’s home country may also have specific adoption requirements for the home study. But while the specific process may vary, there are general steps which will be taken in most adoptions.

    • Orientation

The orientation is an overview of the adoption process and the adoption agency. It is a free, informational meeting where parents can find out general information about the adoption process, the kids available for adoption, and whether or not adoption is right for their family.

    • Training

Next, most adoption agencies will require prospective parents to complete some type of training prior to the home study. According to agencies, the training provides “prospective parents a better understanding of the needs of children waiting for families, adoption issues, and agency requirements.”

    • Interviews

Interviews are done to help the agency and the social worker understand you and your interactions with children, your relationships, your parenting approach, and whether you have experienced crisis or loss. They will also discuss your current family dynamic, whether you want one or more children, and whether you are capable of adopting a special needs child. Interviews are done individually and jointly with both prospective parents. Children currently living in the home may also be interviewed. Experts recommend honesty and clearly stating your own strengths and limitations.

    • Home Visit

The home visit gives the social worker or adoption agency the chance to inspect your home and ensure it is a safe environment for a child. There are basic requirements which are needed to meet the State licensing standards such as working smoke alarms, safe storage of firearms, safe water, pools covered, and adequate space for each child. The inspection is not about ensuring you are a spotless housekeeper but rather whether your home provides a child-friendly environment for the child you are considering adopting.

After the home study is complete the social worker will submit a written home study report to the appropriate agency. Information in the home study report includes information about the family’s background, the parent’s educational and employment status, income information, background checks, daily routines, parenting experience, relationships between the spouses (including the couple’s ability to make decisions, solve problems, communicate, and show affection), the prospective neighborhood, the parent’s religious beliefs, readiness to adopt and the social worker’s recommendations.

On average, a home study process takes 3 to 6 months to complete, although it could be much longer if you delay completing paperwork or gathering necessary documents. The home study may be free if you are adopting a child from foster care or up to $3,000 if it is for a private practice or private agency. Be sure to discuss any fees thoroughly and ask for this information in writing to avoid any misunderstandings.

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