If you're considering adoption, there's probably one step you're particularly anxious about: the home study. American Adoptions has been working with adoptive families for more than 25 years, and this is always one of the first things our families ask about. What is an adoption home study? What is it like? What happens during a home study? Will we pass?
It's normal to have questions and even to feel a little nervous. The whole adoption process can seem overwhelming, and the home study for adoption is a contributing factor to that feeling. But, it doesn't have to be that way. We've seen thousands of families sail through this important step, and you can, too. This guide to the process will start you on the right track to success.
What is a Home Study?
Home studies are required for every adoption, whether it is international or domestic, private or foster care, infant or older child. This study is a basic overview of your life - including criminal background checks, your finances and even your personal relationships. It is used by the courts to assess if a stable environment exists for a family to receive a placement.
Home studies for adoption are often one of the lengthiest steps of the entire process. This is because it requires extensive reviews of important documents, such as birth certificates and marriage licenses, which can take time for some families to locate or receive copies of from the appropriate state agency. Families are encouraged to begin the home study process as soon as possible, as this important step is often required by adoption professionals before they will begin the process of connecting a family with an expectant mother or child.
It is also important to note that there are states, courts and adoption agencies that will only accept home studies from a licensed professional. To find a qualified provider in your area, please select your state from the dropdown menu at the end of this page.
What Does a Home Study Consist Of?
What is involved in a home study can vary somewhat, but the adoption assessment process always involves several steps and quite a bit of paperwork. Often, a home study consists of:
- Gathering and submitting personal documents, like birth certificates and marriage licenses
- Each member of the adoptive household completing an interview with the home study worker
- Home visits with the social worker
- Background checks (such as child abuse clearances and criminal record checks)
- Character references from people who know you
- And more
During this time, a family's whole life is essentially up for review. A home study involves submitting a lot of personal information, including health and financial records. This can feel invasive and frustrating, but it's important to stay positive and flexible. If you are currently preparing for this process, make sure to consult a home study checklist and put yourself in the best position for success. If you have additional questions about what is involved in a home study for adoption, you can speak with our specialists any time at 1-800-ADOPTION.
What Is a Home Study Like for Adoption?
Knowing what is involved in a home study, it's normal to be a little nervous - but having an idea of exactly what to expect during this process can help put you at ease. The home study process is similar for everyone, but there will also be some unique differences depending on the details of your situation. While we can't account for those details, we can tell you the general steps required by most families' home studies for adoption.
Step 1: Find an adoption home study provider in your area.
The home study process is conducted by a licensed social worker who is typically employed by a child-placing agency or other social work professional. If you live in a state where American Adoptions is licensed to complete home studies, you will not need to contact a separate home study professional; we will be able to complete the process for you. If you live in another state, you will need to research and select a home study provider to begin the process. The professional you choose can help prepare you for what to expect during a home study in your specific circumstances.
Step 2: Complete the home study application.
Most families receive an application and information packet from the agency they are working with. During this step, you will learn the details of the way your state conducts the home study process. You will also begin filling out information that your social worker will need in order to complete the study. This is a good time to gather needed documentation such as medical records, tax records and proof of income that may be reviewed during this process.
Step 3: Meet with your assigned social worker for interviews and the home inspection.
After the application has been filed and the documentation has been reviewed, your social worker will conduct her/his in-home visits and interviews. The interviews are meant to help your social worker get to know you and understand your motivation to adopt. They will also asses things like your parenting style, adoption readiness and general personality. During the home inspection for adoption, the social worker will review your living situation to make sure it is safe for a child. Leading up to the in-home study, it's helpful to baby-proof your house.
Step 4: Complete the home study report.
The end result of the home study is a report written by your social worker. This report is required by the agency in order to become an "active family," which is the term for families whose profiles are being shown to prospective birth mothers. This report is also required by state governments and courts to ensure the legality of the placement. Most families are asked to review the report and verify all information during this final step of the home study process.
Over the course of a home study, you are sure to experience unique twists and turns. However, with the right preparation and the right professional guidance, any family can complete their adoption home study with little or no stress. And now, with this step completed, you are that much closer to bringing your child home.
Finding an Adoption Home Study Provider
Are you ready to get started? You can find an organization that provides adoption home studies near you using our customized search tool. Just select your state and review the qualified professionals in your area. If you can't find any professionals, or if you just have more questions about the home study, you can call 1-800-ADOPTION at any time to speak with a specialist or request more information online.