December 09, 2016

Preparing for the Home Study Process

adoptive parents

Because I receive many questions about the adoption home study process. I have prepared this guide to help prospective adoptive parents prepare for the home study and explain the issues that will be covered during the home study.

Getting Ready:

Start discussing parenting issues with each other, such as discipline, how you were raised, childcare plans, attitudes about religion, educational goals, role of extended family members and attitudes about birth parents and adoption. Read general books about adoption to get information about the different types of adoption.

Getting More Specific About the Type of Child You Seek to Adopt:

The home study will approve you for a child of a specific age or age range. The home study will also specify the race of the child you seek to adopt, what medical issues you are willing to accept, what legal issues you are willing to accept, and the level of openness you want or are comfortable with in your adoption process. Read articles and books and discuss these issues thoroughly before you begin working with the home study provider. Although the home study will continue to educate you and explore these issues, it is better to have time to discuss them privately before meeting with a social worker.

Begin Collecting Documents:

You will need reference letters from family members, friends and business acquaintances. Start speaking with those individuals you will eventually ask to prepare the references so that they know that they will be contacted. You will need birth certificates, marriage certificate, divorce decrees, medical reports for you and others in the home (including children and other adults), autobiographical summaries, pet vaccine records, criminal background checks, and other documents. You can begin collecting some of these documents even before you have the first home study appointment. Others, you will need to wait to obtain the format required by the home study provider. Make sure you have had complete recent physical examinations because your physicians will eventually need to complete medical reports.

The Home Visit:

The home study will include at least one home visit. You do not need to have a nursery completed and the house does not need to be childproofed for you to be approved as prospective adoptive parents. However, there must be sufficient room in your room for the addition of a child and you must demonstrate an awareness of child safety. If you have a pool, you will need to have it fenced in with a locked gate. If you own guns, you will need to have them locked away in a safe or gun cabinet. The home study provider will not approve a family if the home is unsafe or unsanitary or does not have enough room for the addition of a child.

Meeting With Your Caseworker:

The caseworker assigned to complete your home study will meet with you, both in your home and in the caseworker’s office. Many states require several visits and at least one of them must include all family members. The caseworker will review the documents you provide. In addition, the caseworker will discuss your parenting beliefs, your attitudes about adoption and birth parents, your comfort with ongoing communication with birth parents, and the type of child you seek to adopt.

Focus on the Goal of Becoming Adoptive Parents:

The home study serves two purposes. First, the home study screens you as prospective adoptive parents to ensure that you can provide a safe and secure home for a child. This screening helps to reassure birth parents that their children will be loved and protected. Second, the home study is educational for you because you will explore many issues that you would have discussed if you were expecting to deliver a baby. I call this period “adoptive nesting” and you should take full advantage of the time you have during the home study process and while waiting for a child to be identified for you to get ready to be parents.

If you have questions about the adoption process, contact Ronnie Fishbein, Attorney at Law, for information.