How to Prepare for the Adoption Home Study Process

Опубликовал Admin
12-11-2016, 14:18
The home study is a key part of the adoption process. Every state in the U.S. requires that adoptive parents have a home study completed by a licensed social worker or caseworker. The contents of your home study will vary, depending on where you live. However, you can prepare for the home study by gathering required documents and preparing your home for the home visit.

Fulfilling Prerequisites

  1. Attend an information session. Many adoption agencies will provide an orientation you can attend if you are interested in adoption. The session usually is free, and you are not obligated to work with the agency if you attend. Attending an information session is a good way to learn about the agency and the adoption process.
    • You can contact nearby adoption agencies and ask if they hold information sessions. Check the time and how much it costs.
    • After the session, you can speak with agency staff if you want to go through with the adoption.
  2. Participate in training. You will probably have to take several trainings, either before or as part of the home study. The trainings generally cover the following areas:
    • The needs of children waiting to be adopted.
    • Any issues that are unique to adoption.
    • The agency’s requirements in order for you to adopt.
  3. Confirm everyone in your family wants to proceed. The home study will involve intensive interviews with all members of your family. Before proceeding, you should confirm that everyone is on the same page and wants to go ahead with an adoption.
    • If your partner is hesitant, then that hesitancy will come out as part of the home study process and your adoption will be delayed. It is better to find out now whether everyone is on board.
  4. Talk to the agency about the home study. You should ask the agency any questions you have about the home study process. They are usually very happy to tell you what to expect and how to prepare.
    • Be sure to ask about price. Often, if you are adopting a child from foster care, then the home study will be free. If you are adopting a child from a private agency, then you might pay $1,000-3,000.
    • Also ask who will be interviewed as part of the home study. You and your partner will be interviewed. However, many agencies also interview the children and any adult living with you. For example, if your adult brother is living in the house, then he or she will be part of the home study.

Gathering Required Information

  1. Have a physical exam. Most agencies will want a statement from your doctor noting your good health. You can get the form from the agency and take it to your doctor. If you haven’t had a physical in a while, then you will need to have one.
    • You do not have to be in perfect shape to adopt. For example, if you have a medical condition under control (such as diabetes or high blood pressure), then you can typically adopt.
    • However, if you have a life-threatening illness, then you may not be able to.
  2. Obtain financial documents. You also need to show the agency that you have enough financial resources to support a child. In some intercountry adoptions, there are financial requirements you have to meet. You should begin by gathering the following:
    • tax returns
    • W-2 forms
    • paycheck stubs
    • proof of self-employment income
    • bank statements
    • insurance policies (life, health, etc.)
    • information on debts
  3. Get vital records. You should gather ahead of time copies of certain vital records, which you will need to give to the adoption agency. For example, you should get certified copies of the following:
    • birth certificates
    • marriage licenses
    • divorce decrees
  4. Select references. Adoption agencies will also want to check references as part of their home study, so you should identify three or four people who you want as references. You should choose as references people who satisfy the following:
    • Don’t select relatives. Most agencies will want non-relatives as references.
    • Do select people who have seen you in many different situations.
    • Do select people who know of your involvement with children. For example, if you volunteered with a child softball league, you could have one of the parents write a letter.
  5. Write an autobiographical statement. Many adoption agencies will also ask that you write an autobiographical statement, also called a short life story. Agencies often have guidelines, which you can get from your caseworker. You can prepare by thinking about the following, which typically is included in the statement:
    • How you were raised.
    • The size of your family, and where you were in the birth order.
    • Your relationship with your parents and siblings when you were growing up and now.
    • Your education and whether you plan to gain additional education.
    • The history of your marriage, including how you met and what attracted you to each other.
    • How you solve problems or resolve arguments.
    • Your communication style with your partner and children.
    • An ordinary day and how you will provide child care (if you work).
    • A description of your neighborhood and why you chose to live there.
  6. Undergo background checks. Every state requires that adoptive families have two types of background checks—a criminal background check and a child abuse records check. You should talk with the agency about whose background will be checked.
    • You should disclose any criminal history to your caseworker. If you try to hide embarrassing information, then the agency might refuse to work with you.
    • You may also have to give fingerprints as part of the background check.

Planning for the Interviews

  1. Think about your experiences with children. Your caseworker will probably ask you questions about your involvement with children, so spend some time thinking about this issue. You want to be able to speak confidently about your experience, but don’t memorize what you want to say.
    • Also think about what you have learned from your experiences with children. For example, you might teach Sunday School to a group of six-year-olds. How have you learned to communicate with them? What are their needs?
  2. Analyze your parenting approach. Your caseworker will also ask about your parenting approach, so spend some time thinking about it. If you already have children, then you can talk about how you parent them.
    • If you don’t have any children, then analyze the parenting approaches of people you know.
    • Also be prepared to discuss your own parents’ approach to raising you. What did you find effective and what would you do differently?
  3. Think about why you want to adopt. You should be prepared to have an honest discussion with the caseworker about what has brought you to adoption. People adopt for many reasons—infertility, the loss of a child, a marriage late in life. Sometimes, you may feel intense emotions around these issues. You should be prepared to talk about them with your caseworker.
    • Remember that your caseworker is not judging you. He or she wants to make sure that children are matched with loving families who can take care of them.
  4. Identify your expectations for the child. You will also talk with the caseworker about what ages of children you want and other characteristics, such as if you will accept a child that is physically disabled. Spend some time thinking about this.
    • Also think about whether you want a boy or girl, and what race you prefer.
  5. Analyze your family’s strengths and weaknesses. If you are adopting a child out of foster care, then your child may have suffered trauma. Your caseworker wants to analyze how your family is prepared to deal with issues surrounding that trauma.
    • Talk with your partner about whether you are prepared to undergo family counseling, if that would help.
    • Also discuss how you will integrate the child into your family.

Preparing for the Home Inspection

  1. Read your state’s requirements. Your caseworker will also perform a home inspection. Generally, your home must be safe and livable. However, each state also has detailed requirements you must meet. You can find these requirements at the Child Welfare Gateway.
    • You should read them and go down through to make sure that your home satisfies all of the requirements for your state.
  2. Fix hazards. The caseworker will walk through your home and check to make sure that it is safe for a child to live there. You can prepare by walking through and checking for hazards, then fixing any that you find. Look for the following:
    • exposed wires
    • rickety stairs or bannisters
    • pools or hot tubs that are full of water and not secure
  3. Check smoke alarms. You need working smoke alarms in your home, as well as an accessible fire extinguisher. Your state law should tell you how many you need and where they should be located. Check to make sure the batteries are working in the smoke alarms.
    • At least 18 states also require that you have a working carbon monoxide detector.
  4. Lock up your guns and ammunition. You need to make sure that your firearms are safely stored out of the reach of children. You should lock up your gun in a cabinet, container, or other gun safe.
    • Also make sure your ammunition is locked up in a separate container.
  5. Keep other dangerous materials out of reach. You should also make sure than any poisons are securely stored out of reach. For example, you can lock them in a high cupboard. Also make sure the following is safely stored:
    • household chemicals, like bleach
    • prescription drugs
    • over-the-counter medications
  6. Check that you have adequate heat and light. Go through the home and replace burned-out lightbulbs. Also make sure that you don’t have trash bags or blankets placed over windows. Your home should also have natural light.
    • Also check that you have sufficient heat for the home, especially during winter.
  7. Clean out junk. You won’t be denied a placement because your home isn’t spotless. However, your home should be clean. Throw away old newspapers and magazines, as well as old clothes piled up around the house.
    • Also throw out moldy food or any food that is stale. Replenish your pantry and refrigerator with fresh food.
    • Clean up animal dander and droppings as well.
  8. Pay special attention to bathrooms. Your bathroom should have a working toilet and both running hot and cold water. Make sure to replace cracked or loose bathroom tiles and moldy shower curtains.
  9. Check your bedrooms. Your home has to have sufficient space for your child. States in particular focus on bedrooms. For example, you may have to satisfy the following requirements, depending on your state:
    • In some states, each child must have a certain amount of square footage.
    • Other states limit how many children can share a bedroom.
    • Nearly every state prohibits children from sharing a bedroom with a child of the opposite sex.
  10. Welcome the caseworker into your home. Your caseworker will have at least one interview in your home. This interview will probably coincide with the home inspection. Your caseworker will inspect the home and note any problems.
    • If there are problems, you and your caseworker can come up with a plan to address the problems.


  • The home study process generally takes three to six months to complete.
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