Everyone who adopts needs an adoption homestudy at the start of the adoption process. This narrative report is used initially by your adoption agency to make sure you meet the qualifications to adopt from a specific country, and by the US Citizenship and Immigration Service to pre-approve you as an prospective adoptive parent.
Mandated by state, federal and country regulations, the homestudy 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.
The homestudy format may vary slightly based on agency, state or country requirements. It must meet specific federal regulations. Most states mandate the report be conducted and written by a social worker who meets state and federal standards for practice. 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.
It is typically written in sections:
- Background of adoptive parent(s)
- Marital history and relationships in the home
- Children in the home
- Children out of the home
- Motivation to adopt
- Adoptive parent education
- Child desired
- Medical information
- Clearances – child abuse, state and FBI
- Home and community
Documents are needed for the homestudy, immigration application and international dossier. There are various notary and authentication requirements (which your homestudy and/or adoption agency will detail for you). Documents needed for the homestudy 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
- Monthly and annual, expense budget
- Proof of adoptive parent education
Agreement to comply with post placement/adoption supervisory visits and reports
Duty of Disclosure
Adoptive parent education certificates
The length of time to complete a homestudy varies based on the homestudy preparers process. In some states, the homestudy also has to be approved on a state level prior to submission to:
- The accredited or approved agency or attorney helping you with the adoption;
- US Citizenship & Immigration Services/National Benefit Center/National Visa Center (USCIS/NBC/NVC) who process international adoption applications and visas for adoption;
If you are bringing your child back with guardianship and will finalize the adoption in the US, the homestudy may be submitted to:
- Local courts; and/or
- Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) who allows you to bring a child from another state into your home state
International Adoption Homestudy Providers must be accredited by the Department of State. They can provide direct service or supervise the services of a Supervised Provider or contract with an Exempt Provider.
International Adoption Providers can be found here.
The homestudy process is a good time to continue your exploration of adoption. the country you are adopting from, the adoption process, as well as transitions, adjustment and how adoption will change your life and your family. An honest and thorough conversation will enable the adoption professionals to best help you achieve your adoption goal.