Everyone who adopts needs an adoption home study at the start of the adoption process. This narrative report prepared by a social worker or adoption agency (based on your state’s regulations) is used by attorneys, agencies, courts and the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) at various points in your adoption process.
Mandated by state regulations, the home study addresses specifics about, you, your family and background, as well as information on your decision, and the type of child you are hoping to adopt.
While the home study format may vary slightly based on agency or state requirements, at least one in-person interview with each household member (adults and children), a couples’ interview and family interview need to be conducted. There will be a minimum of one visit to the home.
The home study is typically written in sections:
- Background of adoptive parent(s)
- Marital history and relationships in the home
- Children in and out of the home
- Your motivation to adopt and the type of child you hope to adopt
- Financial stability
- Medical information
- Clearances – child abuse, state and FBI
- Home and community
Throughout the adoption process, documents are needed for the home study, adoption agencies, attorneys and others. Documents needed for the home study may include, but are not limited to:
- Birth certificate for each family member
- Marriage certificate
- Divorce decree(s)
- Death certificate (spouse or child)
- Adoption decree(s)
- Copy of passport
- Driver ‘s license
- Medical report for each family member
- Proof of eligibility for medical insurance for the child to be adopted
- Child abuse clearances
- Criminal clearances (state and FBI)
- Proof of income
- Proof of adoptive parent education – differs for private, independent, agency and foster care adoptions.
- Agreement to comply with post placement/adoption supervisory visits and reports
The length of time to complete a home study varies based on the home study preparers process. In some states, the home study also has to be approved on a state level prior to submission to:
- Licensed adoption agency or attorney helping you with the adoption;
- Local courts; and
- Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) who allows you to bring a child from another state into your home state
Some states require you to work with licensed adoption agencies in state, or approved out-of-state licensed agencies. Some states mandate you work with a not-fit-profit adoption agency.
The home study preparer is your advocate and the one who is putting your family plan in writing on which others base their actions in helping you build your family. The home study process (interviews and educational courses) is a good time to continue exploring your expectations from the adoption process, as well as transitions, adjustment and how adoption will change your life and your family.