Understanding the adoption home study process can make prospective parents much more at ease when the time comes for a home study. The most important thing you should know is that no agency or social worker is looking for perfect parents. They are looking for home situations that will meet the needs of the child or children that they are trying to place. The process will vary from state to state, but in general, the adoption home study process goes like this:
- Orientation – The orientation might not actually be called orientation, but most agencies will ask the prospective parents to come in and learn about the agency, its philosophy, and its fees. Some agencies do this through an initial telephone interview. This allows the agency to start to get acquainted with the family. This step is just as important for the parents as it is for the agency. You want to make sure that the agency is a good fit for you and that you are a good fit for the agency. Once you are acquainted with the agency, it is time to move forward with the adoption home study process.
- Education – Many states and the agencies that operate within them ask adoptive parents to engage in training. This ensures the adoptive parents are prepared for adopting a child. This might be in conjunction with the home study process, but could also occur before the home study begins. Training is a great way for parents to understand what being in the system is like for a child, what issues might arise in their adoption, and what the agency expects from them. It’s the best way for parents to get a better idea how to effectively parent their future child.
- Interviewing – Interviews are a huge part of the adoption home study process. They help you get to know the social worker, who is attached to your case, and help the social worker understand your family situation. There are a wide variety of topics that will be covered which include what experience you might currently have with children, what relationships are important to you, how you plan to parent, and how well you operate under stress. Many social workers will also ask about how you deal with loss, crisis, and other similar issues. The social worker will likely want to know what age ranges would work for your family and if you would be willing to adopt a set of siblings. There is often an emphasis placed on how you deal with grief, childhood trauma, and how you plan to manage the ever-shifting family dynamic.
- Home visit – The primary purpose of the home visit is to make sure that the home is a safe place for a child. It will be evaluated for how child-friendly it is and how capable the home is of accommodating another family member.
- Health, income, and insurance statements – These statements are a great way for parents to demonstrate that they are capable of taking care of a child. Many parents worry about these aspects of the home study, believing that conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure might preclude them from adopting, when this is far from reality.
- Background checks and references – A background check will be conducted for the adoptive parents. These are completed to get a better idea of you, what you have to offer, and to verify all other parts of the adoption home study process. The social worker will also talk to your personal references.
There are many forms and documents necessary to complete the home study so it is important that you start as soon as you make the decision to adopt. At Adoption Makes Family, we have an extensive instruction manual to guide a family through each step of completing and compiling all necessary documents.
The home study is a critical part of the adoption process and will need to be conducted by a licensed agency within the state.