Adoption Home Study
An adoption home study generates a profile of a potential adoptive family that includes anyone living in the home. The profile includes information on relationships, family interactions, childhood and life experiences, employment, and finances.
You will find answers to many home study questions below. You can also contact an adoption professional and discuss home study services with them directly.
Why is an adoption home study needed?
An adoption home study is not an examination of every detail of a person’s life. It is designed to be used by the courts and adoption professionals to determine if the adoptive family can offer a stable environment for an adopted child.
An adoption home study can vary from state to state, agency to agency, and even social worker to social worker. However, there are standard requirements for every home study.
The basic requirements present in every home study include:
- Autobiography: An adoption autobiography is a brief description of your life that includes childhood experiences, family relationships, marriage relationship, issues related to your infertility and coping, employment status, and personal interests.
- Personal Interview: The social worker will conduct personal interviews with you and your spouse both separately and the two of you together. Personal interviews usually review the information in the autobiography and involve a certain amount of clarification and elaboration. The social worker’s responsibility is to evaluate your situation to determine the potential for a stable environment.
- Background Checks: Background checks include the search for any history of criminal behavior or prior claims of child abuse. It commonly includes fingerprinting.
- Health Status: Your health status is normally confirmed by a routine physical conducted by your family physician. The examination provides a comprehensive assessment of your well-being and includes HIV and TB testing. Its major purpose is to determine if your life expectancy is normal.
- Financial Statements: Financial records are reviewed by the social worker conducting the home study. Financial records include annual income, savings, liabilities or debt, and overall net worth.
- Character References: In most cases you will be asked to provide several references who will attest to your personality, character, and your desire to have children.
The cost of adoption home studies depends on the state or geographical location. Costs also vary between agencies and social workers. The cost of home studies can range from $500 to $3,000. It is common to have additional fees for the post-placement home study.
It is important to find out ahead of time what is included in the home study fees (i.e. travel, post-placement).
After the orientation meeting with an adoption agency, a home study is usually one of the first things you will do. The process usually takes six weeks to complete but can take up to 90 days. It is important to have your home study completed or well under way before you begin your adoption search.
The adoption home study is most often conducted by a social worker within the adoption agency or a social worker contracted by the agency. It is possible to obtain a home study from an independent social worker or other agency licensed to conduct home studies.
It is essential that you confirm their credentials and the license of the individual assigned to conduct your study. Courts will only accept home studies from licensed professionals.
An update is necessary if there are significant changes in a given situation such as a change of employment, or if a significant amount of time has passed. The amount of time in which an update is required can vary, but usually ranges from six months to a year.
The update home study normally requires paying an additional fee but the amount should be less than the original fee because the update involves mostly a review of the information.
The post-placement home study involves a number of visits and phone calls from a licensed social worker (often the same one who conducted the initial home study) to see how the family is adjusting to having a new baby in the home.
The number of visits ranges from state to state and depends on the requirements of the court. You should expect between 3 to 6 contacts from the social worker. In most cases it will be a combination of personal visits and telephone contacts. The post-placement home study fee is normally an additional expense.
Although you can contact a social worker and request a home study, the best process is to get connected to an adoption agency and work through them. They all have social workers who are trained and dedicated to the adoption home study.
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