An adoption home study is one of the first steps any hopeful family takes in the adoption process. Still, despite its importance, there are a lot of common misconceptions surrounding home studies. So, we’re here to help shed a little light on what a home study is, as well as provide a basic breakdown of the home study process. Of course, if you still have questions, you can reach one of our adoption counselors at 410-683-2100.
What is an Adoption Home Study?
A home study is a comprehensive process that involves meeting with a highly trained adoption social worker who conducts a series of interviews with a prospective family and their references to screen the family’s readiness for adoption. The social worker will determine the family’s suitability as adoptive parents by interviewing the family and assessing family interactions, inspecting the home, running criminal background checks, collecting medical and financial documents, and discussing the family’s plans for raising the baby. The home study also requires the adoptive family to submit a number of documents.
A home study can take up to 90 days to complete once the family has submitted all of the necessary documents.
“Even though it feels that they are looking for something you did wrong or it feels kind of invasive, the social workers are on your team,” says one adoptive mother. “They want you to succeed, and they want to find happy, healthy homes for babies who need to be adopted.”
The Home Study is to “screen in” a family – rather than “screen out.” The home study social worker reaches out to the prospective adoptive family in a supportive, positive and affirming manner to help make the adoption process positive and loving.
What is the Process?
- The Home Study Application: The home study must be completed by an agency licensed in the State in which you live. To start the Home Study process here in Maryland, call Adoption Makes Family at 410-683-2100 for more information. Or you can also download the application here and send it to the agency with the $400 application fee.
- Background Check: All age appropriate members of your household will need to complete a background check.
- Assigned a Social Worker: Your assigned social worker will contact you to discuss the schedule the home study and give you more details on the process. Giving the family more details helps “puts them at ease,” says social worker Karla Jacquin.
- Home Study Visits: Your home study social worker will visit your home and…
- Conduct Interviews: Your social worker will interview everyone currently residing in the home, including children over the age of five. Members of your family not currently residing in your home may also be contacted for in-person or phone interviews. Questions may cover:
- Your current and past lifestyles
- Your daily routine
- Your views on raising children
- How you plan to incorporate a child into your routine
- Your marriage
- Your religious beliefs and affiliations
- Your health
- Observe Family Interactions: Your social worker will observe your family interactions as they try to assess whether or not your home is a safe environment in which to raise a child.
- Review Home Safety Precautions: The social worker may also review home safety precautions. They may check smoke detectors, storage of toxic materials, and swimming pool safety precautions. If you own a firearm, is it safely locked away?
- Collect Documents: You are required to turn in your home study documents during your first home study. These may include: Potential adoptive parents autobiographies, financial information, disciplinary statement, copy of birth certificate of each member of the family, copy of marriage license, copy of divorces decrees(s) if applicable, military discharge(s) (if applicable), most recent income tax return, employment verifications (letter from employer or most recent pay stub) or non-working spouse statement (if applicable), physician health statements, copies of drivers licenses, reference letters, pet vaccination records, proof of insurance (home, health, auto, life), passports, green card(s), and any additional documents your state or agency may require for your home study.
- Schedule Your Next Home Visit: The home study visit will usually take 2 to 4 hours.
- Home Study Report: The findings from the home study and all the documents submitted by the family are compiled into a final home study report. Your home study will need to be approved by your placing agency/agent.
Home Study Services in Maryland
Adoption Makes Family is a non-profit (501-C3) licensed adoption agency based in Maryland, and our licensed home study professionals have over 18 years of experience conducting home studies. We provide home studies for both domestic and international adoptions. We strive for efficiency and organization, all the while maintaining a feeling of warmth and compassion that must come with growing families.
To start the Home Study process, call 410-683-2100 for more information. Or you can also download the application here and send it to the agency with the $400 application fee.
If you have any questions, you can contact us by phone at 410-683-2100, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or use our online contact form.