Eligibility to adopt is determined during an evaluation called a home study. Here’s a checklist for prospective adoptive and foster parents of things licensed social workers commonly look for during this evaluation.
Maybe you just started researching adoption, or maybe you are further along in your journey to becoming a parent. You might be waiting to be matched with a birth mother, or in the process of applying to adopt internationally, or preparing to open your home to a foster child. At this stage, you may feel emotionally prepared to take on the duties of being a parent, but there is still a question of whether or not you will qualify to become one.
A home study is a report that verifies that adoptive parents and foster parents are mentally sound, financially stable, healthy, and able to have a child in their home. A licensed social worker will be assigned to the prospective parents to determine their eligibility through a series of interview meetings in their home. Home study requirements and fees differ from state to state, and whether or not you are adopting domestically, looking to become a foster parent, or adopting a child from another country. Home studies can take anywhere from six months to eighteen months, depending on the state in which they are conducted.
The checklist for a home study can cover child home safety requirements, documentation, and special training for potential parents. To help you prepare, here’s a list of the most common things licensed social workers look for during a home study:
Proof of employment, identity, and citizenship, income tax return documents, financial documents, medical statements and health examinations, proof of insurance, marital status, and religion, as well as reference letters from family and friends are all common types of documentation that a social worker will be asking for during the home study process. Be sure you have your passport, driver’s license, birth certificate, and other important documents ready.
There are several types of clearances (background checks) that may be required for people looking to foster or adopt, often looking specifically for evidence of child abuse, neglect, and other past crimes involving a child, such as the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, as well as general verification of criminal background. FBI clearances and fingerprinting are also common requirements during a home study process.
International adoptive parents and foster care parents are often required to complete pre-adoption training