Participation in home study for all prospective adoptive parents is required by law in every State as well as the District of Columbia, no matter how an individual intend to adopt. The reason for this is threefold: to educate and prepare the potential adoptive family, to compile and review information about the prospective parents in order to match a family with an adoptive child, and to assess the overall qualification and suitability of the adoptive family.
Some prospective parents may find the home study process to be stressful and daunting, and fearing they may not be approved. However, agencies are not searching for perfect parents or families. Instead, they are interested in finding authentic parents who desire to bring an adoptive child into their home to genuinely nurture and support for a lifetime. Prospective parents, truly committed to adopting a child, can approach the home study experience with confidence and excitement, rather than uncertainty and fear, once better informed of the process.
Generally, depending on the agency, State and in the case of inter-country adoption, specific home study requirements vary greatly. Below is a discussion of the common steps involved in the home study process, as well as common concerns from prospective adoptive parents. For the most part, adoption agencies do not follow a set format to conduct the home studies process. Typically, it includes some variation of the following steps:
- Training. This is almost always a requirement for prospective adoptive parents, either prior to or during the home study process. Trainings are meant to help prospective parents gain a better understanding of the needs of adoptive children waiting to be placed, and assists families when deciding what type of child may be most suitable according to their particular parenting skills and style, and overall circumstances.
- Interviews. They will likely take place with a social worker on several occasions throughout the course of the process. Interviews help to develop a relationship between the prospective family and social worker in an effort to determine compatibility and better assist appropriate placement.
- Home Visit. These primarily serve to guarantee an adoptive parent’s home complies with state licensing standards, for example, adequate space for a child, safe water, working smoke alarms, to name a few.
- Health Statements. Adoption agencies generally request an overview of prospective adoptive parents medical condition, and will likely require some form of physical exam to verify status. If a serious health problem exists that affects life expectancy, it may preclude approval.
- Income Statements. There has never been a requirement for adoptive parents to be affluent financially. The only thing required is to verify your finances are managed responsibly and adequately. This is usually accomplished by confirming income via income tax forms, W-4 forms, or copies of paycheck stubs.
- Background Checks. Most States require all adoptive and foster parent applicants to clear criminal and child abuse background checks.
- Autobiographical Statement. Most agencies will ask prospective parents to provide some form of an autobiographical statement, which gives a social worker a better understanding of a family, and eventually assists him/her in producing the mandatory home study report (discussed below).
- References. Agencies will likely ask prospective adoptive parents for the names and contact information of three or four individuals to serve as references. They are used to help a social worker to create a more comprehensive impression of the adoptive family and their network of friends and associations.
The findings of the above steps are culminated in the written assessment of a home study report by the social worker. The reports are also often used to introduce a prospective adoptive family to other agencies that may assist in matching a family with a potential adoptee. Besides the factors highlighted above, home study reports may also include education/employment, relationships, religion, daily life and working schedules, and neighborhood, among others.
If you are a prospective parent seeking to adoption a child, call McDowell Chartered legal services at 316-633-4322 for more information about the legal rights of you and your child, how to get started with process, and handling the overall matter successfully.