As you move towards the home study portion of your adoption journey, you may be running a number of scenarios through your mind. You know the social worker or adoption care professional is going to ask a lot of questions, require a lot of paperwork, and conduct a number of interviews, but you wonder what exactly they’ll be like. Of course there’s no way to be entirely certain of how your home study will go, but one way to welcome a successful home study beyond tidying up the house and wearing a big smile is to do as much research and preparation as you possibly can. This list of expected adoption home study questions will help you get an idea of what the social worker is looking for during the process as well as help you prepare some responses.
Categories and Questions
Throughout the home study, there are a few question categories your social worker will most likely stick to in order to get a clear picture of your home life and familial background. These categories may vary depending upon the type of adoption you’ve chosen. At the end of the home study, you will be required to undergo an adoption education program as well, which will cover everything from transitioning and discipline to Birth Parents and beyond. However, before you get there, you must undergo the home study first. Categories and questions include:
  • Autobiography/Family Background
    A large portion of the home study interviews and questions will focus on your and your spouse’s familial and personal backgrounds. If you are single, this will simply focus on questions about yourself and your family growing up. Some questions may include:
    • How Was Your Family Growing Up?
    • How Do You Feel About Discipline?
    • What Are Your Best Childhood Memories?
    • What Are Your Worst Childhood Memories?
    • What Are Some of Your Fears?
    • How Long Have You Been Married?
    • Do You Have Other Children?
    • Why Have You Chosen Adoption?
    • What Do You Wish For the Future?
    In some cases, typically depending upon your state and the agency you use, a social worker will work closely with your family to complete this autobiographical portion. Others, however, may simply send a questionnaire with similar questions that the agency wants answered in a certain amount of time.
  • Community
    Another important part of the interview process is describing your home and community environment. For many social workers, a questionable community can cause an adoption to fall through, leaving the family devastated. While adoption disruption is not common, and most adoption professionals work to prevent this from happening, if they find red flags throughout the home study process, they’ll do what must be done. Some questions may include:
    • Would You Say Your Community is Mostly Safe?
    • What is the School System Like?
    • If You Already Have Children, Where Do They Attend School?
    • Where Will Your Child Attend Once Adopted?
    • Do You Have a Relationship With Your Neighbors?
    • If So, What is Your Relationship like with Your Neighbors?
    • Does Your Community Offer Resources to Help Parents of a Special Needs Child/children?
    • What Outlets Are Available for Children in Your Community (i.e. sports, arts, teams, etc)?
  • Health
    Both your physical and emotional health will be documented during your home study. Medical records as well as a written statement from your doctor explaining the nature of a physical or psychiatric illness may be required. Your health typically won’t carry much weight in the adoption decision unless you are dealing with something that may affect your life expectancy. Much of the questions will probably be based off of your personal medical records and statements, so they will vary. In general, however, questions may include:
    • Do You Have Any Chronic Health Issues?
    • How Are You Keeping these Health Issues Under Control?
    • How Does Your Health Issue Affect Your Day to Day Life?
    • Do You Have an Action Plan In Case of Emergency?
    • Does Your Doctor Recommend Adoption with Your Current Health Issue?
    • Due to Family History, Can you Expect a Chronic Health Issue to Develop?
  • Criminal Clearances
    In most states, it is required by law to submit any criminal record or child abuse record checks. If there is an incident in your past, it does not mean the adoption will fall through. If you have a good explanation of your actions and behavior, it is usually is not held against you. However, an arrest of certain nature, usually involving children, substance abuse, or the like, will typically not be allowed and the adoption process will be stopped. Questions may include:
    • Have You Ever Been Arrested?
    • If So, What Were You Arrested For?
    • Can You Explain Your Actions and Behavior?
    • Did You Put Yourself or Loved Ones in Serious Danger?
    • What Were the Nature of Your Charges?
    • Was Your Case Handled in Court?
    For this category, the questions will most definitely vary depending upon you and past information. If you do have any criminal clearances, it is best to prepare explanations unique to your situation, not a generic one.
  • Financial Statements
    Adoption is expensive, so it is your social worker’s job to ensure that you can cover the costs before, during, and after the adoption process. This may include the help of loans and grants as well as other financial aid. Financial statements and stability are required to show your ability to care for a child on your current income. This will require you to submit tax forms, pay stubs, or other documents outlining your income. Questions may include:
    • What Is Your Profession?
    • How Do You Budget Your Monthly Income?
    • How Much Do You Make In a Year?
    • Do You Feel Prepared to Handle Any Unexpected Expenses That May Come Up?
    • Are You Able to Provide Both the Necessities and Extras a Child May Need?
    While there is no minimum amount you must make to adopt a child, your income is important in the final adoption decision. Your social worker will want to know that you are able to care for an additional person on your current income, whether that entails further budgeting or other financial plans. Some agencies may require you to fill out a worksheet that covers your bills, recurring payments, and more.
This list of questions should help you to prepare yourself for your coming home study. All in all, the most important thing to remember during interviews is to be yourself. Your social worker wants to get to know you and your family, your personalities, quirks, and relationships. Being truthful and genuine will help them find the right child for your family, moving the adoption process along smoothly. Good luck!