Adoption home studies are essential to the success of an adoption as it proves to the adoption agency as well as the state social services department that the prospective adoptive family is fit to raise a child and that their house is also ready for the addition of a child.
Sometimes the adoption agency can conduct the home study themselves, but many times the adoptive family will find their own provider, which will either be recommended by their adoption agency or will be selected themselves.
The social worker of the provider will then conduct the following steps for the adoptive family’s home study.
The adoptive family must collect a series of documents, which the social worker will collect once she visits their house.
The social worker will first collect documents regarding the couple’s criminal history. The adoptive family is required to complete a criminal background check, including a state criminal background check, and FBI report, and child abuse checks.
The social worker will check the hopeful parents’ medical history via their doctor, insuring that they are physically and mentally prepared to become parents.
The adoptive family will have to provide proof of their financial records, including pay stubs, income tax returns, and any other financial documentation pertinent to the value of their assets.
The social worker will also was to collect marriage licenses, drivers licenses, reference letters, birth certificates, and many more documents specific states home study providers must collect.
2. Home Tour
The first thing the social worker will do is collect the documentation collected from the adoptive family.
The social worker will then conduct an inspection of their house to ensure that it is viable for a baby to live in.
It is common for adoptive families to worry that every nook and cranny of their home must be spotless or they will not be able to fulfill their dreams as parents. This simply isn’t true. The true purpose of the home tour is to make sure certain items regarding safety are accounted for in the home, such as locks on the gun cabinet, a fence around the pool, fire escape plans on each floor of the home, etc.
If the social worker notices an item in the home that is missing or needs fixing, he or she will inform the adoptive family to complete this by the next home visit.
The home visit consists of the home tour and the interview process with each member of the adoptive family, including children and other people living in the home.
The purpose of the interview is for the social worker to understand the prospective parents’ motivations to adopt as well as their knowledge of being parents. The social worker will also investigate individual aspects of their lives, such as their goals, beliefs, values, hobbies, and to ensure that each member of the family is completely on board with the adoption.
The interviews are essential to the home study because they give the home study provider an insight of the personalities, past history and emotional traits of each family member and person living in the household.
The autobiography is the first-person account of the history of the adoptive parents. It is either recorded by the social worker from the interviews, or written by the adoptive family themselves.
The purpose of the autobiography is to give the social worker a look into the lives of the adoptive family to ensure that they are ready to adopt a child.
5. Home Study Report
The home study report is a collection of everything learned about the adoptive family, complied into one report. This section includes information about the documents, home tour, interview, autobiography, and anything else learned of the prospective parents.
The report is turned in to the agency and is then accepted or denied.
Home study updates are sometimes required if a major event happens to the adoptive family, such as a move to a new house or an addition of a new family member or roommate. Updating it requires the family to complete many if not all of the steps of their original one.
Finally, once the adoption is successful, post-placement visits are required. Post-placement visits include the social worker visiting the home to see how the new parents and baby are settling in with one another. Each state requires a specific number of post-placement visits, and once they are completed the adoption is finalized.
1-800-HOMESTUDY has much more information on adoption home studies and answers any other home study questions adoptive families may have.