Many hopeful adoptive parents wonder, “How do I prepare for a home study?” Well, we’re here to tell you. So, grab a pen and some paper and get ready to take notes. Here comes your crash course in the home study process.
Home Study 101 – Everything You Need to Know
The journey of adoption may seem daunting and surreal. However, rest assured. You are not alone. We are here to help walk you through the process and ensure you are fully prepared for the journey ahead of you.
What is a Home Study?
An adoption home study is one of the first steps any hopeful family takes in the adoption process. It is a comprehensive evaluation of that family’s readiness to raise an adopted child. It is designed to both make sure the home is safe for a child and make sure the child receives the care, attention, and upbringing that they need and deserve. The home study involves meeting with a highly trained adoption social worker who conducts a series of interviews with the prospective family and their references, as well as review the family’s financial history and running a criminal background check, to assess their suitability for adoption.
“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 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. The home study is also an opportunity for the hopeful family to learn more about adoption and explore what adoption and parenting mean to them. The home study also helps the adoption agency learn about the family’s adoption wishes which helps to carefully match an adoptive family with a birth family and baby.
The findings from the home study and all the documents submitted by the family are compiled into a final home study report. The entire process can take up to 90 days to complete. It is best to get started on your Home Study as soon as you decide to adopt.
How Do I Prepare for a Home Study?
While the home study process is designed to screen families in, rather than out, it is still possible to fail. So, if you’re worried about the home study, “there are a few things you can do to prepare,” says Julia K. Porter, Family Handyman.
- To start the home study process 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. The home study must be completed by an agency licensed in the State in which you live.
- You can begin to gather necessary documents. “It is best that families not start to collect documents until they start the home study,” suggests Dean Kirschner, Ph.D., LCSW-C. “Some documents require specific forms that are provided by the agency.” Documents you may need to gather 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. For a full list of what is needed, talk to your adoption agency or social worker.
- Your social worker will interview everyone currently residing in the home, including children over the age of five. So, it can be helpful to think through answers to common interview questions. Why do you want to adopt? Do you have a gender preference? Are you willing to adopt a special needs child? Are you open to transracial adoption? What level of openness are you looking for in your adoption? How do you envision your parenting style? If you have any current children, how have you or will you prepare them as you bring a new child into your home?
- Don’t forget to babyproof your home. Your adoption social worker will likely 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? “Having your home ready for children shows the social worker you are serious and responsible,” says Porter.
- Be sure to choose a qualified and caring adoption agency. Because the home study is such an integral part of the adoption process, it is essential to have a positive feeling about the agency and social worker conducting the home study. At Adoption Makes Family, e consider it an honor to participate in a family’s efforts to adopt a child. As such, we feel very positive about our role in conducting a home study. We are 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.
The findings from the home study and all the documents submitted by the family are compiled into a final home study report. Once the home study application is reviewed and accepted, Adoption Makes Family will work with you every step of the way to help you realize your dream of a loving family.
If you have any questions, you can contact us by phone at 410-683-2100, by e-mail at email@example.com or use our online contact form.
- “10 Things To Help You Prepare For The Home Study.” Adoption.org, https://adoption.org/10-things-need-know-youre-preparing-home-study.
- “How to Prepare for a Home Study.” Binti, https://binti.com/home-study/how-to-prepare-for-a-home-study/.
- Porter, Julia K. “How to Get Your House Ready for an Adoption Home Study.” The Family Handyman, The Family Handyman, 20 Mar. 2019, https://www.familyhandyman.com/smart-homeowner/how-to-get-your-house-ready-for-an-adoption-home-study/.