For many expectant adoptive parents, the mention of a home study could be confusing and intimidating at first. If you are a prospective adoptive parent and are feeling anxious about the home study process, getting all of the information you need will ease your worries and ensure a smooth, well-prepared home study.
1.What is a home study?
To start off, a home study is simply the process of making sure you can become an adoptive parent and live in a stable environment to raise a child. It requires a full criminal background check, a look at your finances, family background, and a review of your personal relationships. It is encouraged for prospective adoptive parents to start the home study process as soon as possible because it is the longest step that needs to be completed before connecting a family with a child or pregnant birth mother.
2. What is a home visit?
During this process you will meet with a social worker and certified Home Study Provider who will visit your home to review and verify that is a safe environment to raise a child. Don’t worry, your house does not have to be perfect — simple cleanliness and safety are most important. You want to make sure you:
- Store chemicals, cleaning supplies, and medicine out of reach
- Cover electric outlets
- Install gates and safety railings for stairways and fences around pools
- Inspect window screens and locks on windows and doors
- Check smoke and carbon detectors to make sure they’re fully functioning
- Examine any tall and heavy furniture bolted to the wall\
3. How to prepare for your interview.
Your social worker will meet with you or any member of your family who may be living in the same household as the adoptive child (family members exclude any young child who is not able to understand the adoption process) to conduct an interview. The interview will take place with each family member together and individually so that the social worker can learn more about your family history, personalities, goals for adoption, and knowledge on adoption.
Here is a list of sample interview that may come up during your home study interview:
- Biographical/Family Background
- How was your family as a child?
- Share your best childhood memories.
- Share your worst childhood memories.
- Do you have any other children?
- Are you married? If so, for how long?
- How do you feel about child discipline?
- Why have you decided to adopt?
- What are your wishes for the future?
- How would you rate the safety of your community?
- Describe the school system.
- What school would your child attend?
- What activities are available for your child?
- Do you have any health issues? If so, how are you handling them?
- Will your family history cause you to potentially develop any health issues?
- What is your plan in case of any health emergencies?
- Have you ever been arrested? If so, what were you arrested for?
- Have you ever been convicted of a crime? Is so, what were you convicted for?
- What is your annual income?
- What is your educational background?
- What is your profession?
- Are you prepared for any unexpected expenses that may arise?
- Are you able to provide for what a child will need?
You should become familiar with these questions to better prepare yourself for the interview. During your interview remember to be honest, relax, and be yourself!
4. What you’ll need.
Getting your appropriate documents in order will ensure a smooth home study and allow it to move quickly. Here is a checklist of the documents you will need:
- Autobiographical statement
- Parenting plan statement
- Driver’s license(s)
- Birth certificate(s) of everyone who lives in your home
- Social security card
- Marriage certificate if applicable
- Divorce decree(s) if applicable
- Military discharge(s) if applicable
- Past adoption decree(s) if applicable
- Green card(s) if applicable
- Financial information
- Latest income tax return and tax returns for the last 2-3 years
- Verification of employment (most recent pay stub, letter from your employer, or a statement stating that you are not working)
- Proof of insurance: (home, health, life, auto)
- Medical statement(s) of health status for applicants and everyone living in the home
- Immunization records
- Passport(s) if adopting internationally
- Pet vaccination records if applicable
5. Who to choose as a reference.
It will be important to prepare a list of references for your social worker to contact. You will want to make sure you ask your references beforehand if it is okay to use them as a reference. You should choose people who are close to you, know your personality, and who are supportive of your decision to adopt.
The home study process may seem overwhelming but keep in mind that it is a necessary step in the adoption process and is not as scary as it might seem! It may feel invasive but keep in mind it is just to ensure a child will be placed in a safe home with a loving family. Remember you are not alone! If you have any concerns along the way reach out to family, friends, other parents who have been through the adoption process, or your social worker for support along the way. Relax, be genuine and when all is said and done, it will all be worth it. Good luck!
“He who can reach a child’s heart can reach the world’s heart.” -Rudyard Kipling