Starting on your adoption home study may seem overwhelming! It’s common to think that your home and your lives must be “picture perfect” in order to “pass” a home study. The purpose of the home study is to document your background and home life. Rather than seeking to “inspect” you and your home, your adoption social worker is there to help you think through the process of adding a child to your household. He or she will want to help you be successful throughout your home study and adoption!
As part of the home study process, you will be asked for autobiographical information as well as information regarding your relationship with your spouse if you are married. Plan to complete a fairly extensive application form. You will be asked to provide identification, health statements, income and employment statements. You may need to provide information regarding your bills, debts and assets. Also, you will be asked to provide letters of reference and give contact information for several character references and extended family members.
We are here to help you be successful!
Other items that may be needed are photos of yourself, your family and your home; diplomas; reports from previous adoptions or foster care placements; letters from counselors or other professionals you’ve seen; pet records and/or a letter from your veterinarian and a sketch of your home. Adoption education may be required as part of the home study process. A psychological assessment may be needed in some situations.
All household members of a certain age who live in the home will need to complete criminal history, child abuse, and neglect record background clearances. The records may also be needed for children who live elsewhere but who are in your home regularly and on frequent visitors to your home, depending on the state you live in and the type of adoption you are completing.
Due to varying requirements, there will be one or more interviews and home visits that are necessary. Plan on all household members, including anyone who may or may not be related to you but who resides in your home, attending at least one home visit. Your adoption social worker will need to see that your home is a safe and healthy environment for a child, not that you have the nicest decor or the best furnishings. Homes that are well loved, but show some wear from everyday family life, are well-suited to adoption.
“You are not expected to have all the answers”
You are not expected to have “all the answers” during your interviews, but you should be willing to discuss your personal background, your marriage relationship and previous relationships, parenting abilities , health, criminal history, support from family and friends, financial status and your home environment. Always be honest and as open as possible with your social worker. Not revealing information that is then learned from another source can be a reason to not approve your home study.
One important tip to remember, the paperwork collection process of your home study and your availability for when interviews and home visits can be scheduled are the only steps in the adoption process where you will be completely in charge of the time line. Later in your adoption process, there will likely be a longer wait than you prefer. Those who have been slow to turn in their paperwork to their social worker or who weren’t able to schedule visits very quickly, regret that they wasted several months in becoming prepared for their adoption home study. Remember, no one is expected to have a “picture perfect” home (even your social worker is unlikely to have one of those!). It would be unrealistic to expect a child could live in such an environment, so a home that’s too “picture perfect” might not even be approved. As much as possible, enjoy the first big step toward your adoption success!