The Home Study Process
The adoption process can often be quite time-consuming and detailed, and many couples find it very frustrating to get through. Of particular concern to most adoptive parents is the adoption home study, which is one of the most integral parts of the adoption procedure. In order to complete a domestic adoption or an international adoption, you and your partner must first successfully complete your home study. This can be a very nerve wracking experience for adoptive couples but, rest assured, the home study is not all that bad. This article will explain the purpose of an adoption home study and will give you some insight on how it is performed.
What is an Adoption Home Study?
If you are thinking about adopting, then undoubtedly you are already familiar with the home study. A home study is actually a written report that is compiled by a licensed social worker. It summarizes details about your personal and family history, your job and educational background, and your parenting skills and home environment. The home study is used to help your adoption agency and the adoption courts to determine your suitability as an adoptive parent.
How is the Home Study Conducted?
A homestudy is typically conducted as a series of interviews. Your social worker will interview both you and your partner several times in order to discuss information about your background, your thoughts on adoption, and what type of child you might be best suited for. Some of these interviews will take place at your adoption agency while others will take place in your own home. Home interviews give your social worker the chance to evaluate the suitability of your home and your daily routine. Your social worker will also conduct interviews with any children that you may already have.
How Long Does a Home Study Take?
A typical home study for adoption usually takes between three and six months to complete, though this depends upon the type of adoption that you are pursuing and your social worker’s existing case load. Home studies performed with private agency adoptions (including closed and open adoptions) can typically be completed much more quickly.
What Does a Home Study Include?
In order to complete a home study, you and your partner will need to provide a variety of documents and personal information. Every agency requires different information, so your home study may vary from those conducted by other institutions. However, most home studies include the following facets:
Autobiography or Personal Background: For the home study, both you and your partner will be required to write a short essay on your personal history. This piece of writing will include information about your family, where you were brought up, as well as your education, employment, and ordinary routines. This autobiography helps your social worker to understand your family better.
Health Statement: Your social worker will also require a statement from your health care provider about your physical health. Most agencies require you to undergo a full physical examination, while others only require a clear tuberculosis test. People with severe or chronic illnesses may not be suited to adopting a child.
Financial Statement: Your financial statement will provide your social worker with information about your financial stability. Though you don’t have to be rich to adopt a child, it is important that you know how to balance your income responsibly. You will be required to provide copies of your income tax statement, investments, mortgage or rent payments, car payments, and outstanding debts.
Criminal Background Check: In order to successfully complete the home study process, you and your partner must both be free of any criminal or child abuse charges. This is usually the longest part of the home study process, as it can take up to six weeks to receive this criminal background check. Minor offenses may not prevent you from adopting a child, but it is important to disclose this information to your social worker.
Personal References: Most home studies require three or four personal references that will attest to your suitability as adoptive parents. These references are generally in the form of letters written by close friends, employers, or clergymen. You should not ask relatives to write personal references for you, as these are not accepted by most agencies. Instead, ask someone who knows you well and is very familiar with your parenting skills.
Home Interview: The home interview is usually the most overwhelming part of the home study process. During this interview, your social worker will come to your house to evaluate your living conditions and daily lifestyle. Your social worker will ask to see where your child will sleep and play and will want to speak to everyone living in your house. The home interview is not meant to criticize your lifestyle or housekeeping skills. Instead, it helps to give your social worker a better idea of who you are and how a new child will fit into your home.
Preparing for Your Home Study
Before you book your home study, there are a few things that you can do to help the whole experience go a little more smoothly:
- Prepare all documents that you will need ahead of time.
- Speak with other couples who have already gone through the home study process.
- Talk with your family members about the home study process and what to expect.
- Choose a licensed and experienced social worker to complete your home study.