September 18, 2019

Understanding the Home Study

Prior to adopting a child, prospective adoptive families will be the subject of what is known as a home study. The home study is a detailed report that describes the state of the physical home, as well as the ability of the potential adoptive parents to create a positive and fulfilling environment for the adopted child. The home study can take up to six months to complete and will often vary depending upon the type adoption a family is seeking. For example, a home study for a domestic adoption might be different from that of an international adoption.

home study

The home study is compiled from a series of visits that a social worker will make to the home in order to establish whether or not the prospective parents are financially, emotionally and socially prepared to adopt a child. The home study may also be instrumental in assisting social workers and agencies in deciding if a particular child is a good fit or your family.

What information will you have to provide about your family?

As it can be time consuming and complicated, many states have agencies or social workers that assist the family during the home study. Other states may simply put forth a questionnaire designed to gather information about the family. The questions may relate to a variety of subjects including your family history, your opinions on discipline, your own childhood experiences, or your reasons for wanting to adopt.

What information will you be asked to provide about your community?

Regardless of whether or not an agent or social worker assists you with the home study, you will be asked to provide certain information. Part of this information will be a description of the community in which you live. Information you may be asked to provide may include:

  • A description of the schools in your community;
  • Your relationship with your neighbors;
  • An explanation of the resources your community can offer a child with special needs.

What information will you be asked to provide about your physical health?

During your home study, you will mot likely have to submit information regarding your physical health. This could include any of the following:

  • A full physical examination;
  • A Tuberculosis test;
  • A chest x-ray;
  • An explanation of your existing health issues and how you control them.

What information will you be asked to provide about your financial status?

Your home study must demonstrate that you have the financial resources to care for an additional individual with your current income. Specifically, you may be asked to provide any of or all of the following:

  • pay stubs;
  • income tax forms;
  • proof of insurance;
  • proof of savings;
  • investments;
  • debts;
  • mortgages or rent;
  • car payments;
  • bank accounts.

Will you be asked to submit fingerprints or be subjected to a background check?

It is more than likely that you will be required by law to submit to a background check. Should you have any felony convictions or charges involving children, you will most likely not be allowed to adopt. Should you have any misdemeanors, the home study process should afford you the opportunity to explain these charges without risking your ability to adopt.

Will you be asked to provide references?

During this process, it is customary for the prospective parents to offer character references who have known the family for at least several years. These references should be willing to write a letter of recommendation and have a thorough knowledge of your family in various situations.

What role do interviews or visits to the home play in the home study?

The one-on-one interview/home visit is a time for the case workers to review your paperwork, learn more about your family, ask questions, and ensure that your home is safe. At this time, the social worker or agent may request to tour your home and visit the child’s prospective room.

What will be asked of your existing children during the home study?

Should you already have children, you may be required to submit information about their interests, hobbies and progress in school. Additionally, social workers may ask to interview your children about their feelings toward the prospective adoption. Some agencies will have the children write a statement or draw a picture to gain better perspective into their feelings about an adopted sibling.

How much will a home study cost?

The cost of a home study can vary depending upon the agency involved or the social worker completing your study. Home studies done for private adoptions can cost anywhere from $500 to $3,000. Should a public agency or the Department of Social Services assist you, you will most likely not be charged or may be reimbursed following the adoption.

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