Your Adoption: Home Study
An adoption home study is a profile of the potential adoptive family that includes anyone living in the home. The profile presents information on your relationship, your family interactions, your childhood and life experiences, your employment, and your financial well-being.
An adoption home study is not a microscopic examination of your life, but rather a profile that is used by the courts and the adoption professionals to assess whether you could provide a stable environment to an adopted child.
An adoption home study may vary from state to state, agency to agency, and even social worker to social worker, however, there are fundamental elements that are expected in each home study. The fundamental elements that are present in every home study include the following:
Autobiography: An adoption autobiography is a short story of your life that briefly addresses your childhood experiences, your family relationships, your marriage relationship, aspects related to your infertility and coping employment status, and personal interests.
Personal Interview: The social worker will conduct personal interviews with you, your spouse, and the two of you together. Personal interviews usually reiterate the things presented in the autobiography and involve clarification and elaboration. The social worker is making an assessment of the situation to determine if a stable environment is expected.
Background Checks: Background checks include an investigation of any criminal history or claims of child abuse. It commonly includes fingerprinting.
Health Status: Your health status is usually presented in the form of a routine physical conducted by your family practitioner. The examination provides a global assessment of your well-being and includes HIV and TB testing. The objective is to assess whether you have a normal life expectancy.
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 references who will attest to your personality, character, and your desire to have children. It is usually a brief profile of you and your family from another source. It is common to have three character references.
The cost of adoption home studies differs in each state or geographical location. It may also vary between each agency or each social worker. The cost of home studies ranges from $500 to $3,000, however they are more common in the $750 to $1,000 range.
It is common for additional fees to be expected for the post-placement home study as well. It is important to discuss what is included in the home study fees (i.e. travel, post-placement).
Outside of an orientation meeting with the adoption agency, an adoption home study is usually one of the first things you will do. The process usually takes six weeks to complete, but it could take up to 90 days. It is important to have your home study completed or well underway before you begin your adoption search.
Your adoption home study is most often conducted by a social worker within the adoption agency or a social worker contracted by the agency to conduct home studies on behalf of potential adoptive families. It is possible to obtain a home study from an independent social worker or another agency licensed to conduct home studies.
It is essential that you confirm the credentials and license of the individual conducting your study. The courts will only accept home studies from licensed professionals.
An update is necessary if there have been any significant changes (i.e. employment change), or if a significant amount of time has passed. The amount of time that requires an update varies but usually ranges from six months to a year. The updated home study usually requires an additional fee but will be less than your original home study fee because it is mostly a review.
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 assess how the transition and adjustment are going for the family after bringing a new baby into the home.
The number of visits ranges from state to state and depends on the requirements of the court. You should anticipate between 3 to 6 contacts from the social worker. In most cases, it will be a combination of personal visits and phone contacts. The post-placement home study fee is usually a separate expense from the original home study.