The Adoption Home Study Process

Introduction

The laws of every State and the District of Columbia require all prospective adoptive parents (no matter how they intend to adopt) to participate in a home study. This process has three purposes: to educate and prepare the adoptive family for adoption, to gather information about the prospective parents that will help a social worker match the family with a child whose needs they can meet, and to evaluate the fitness of the adoptive family.

The home study process can be a source of anxiety for some prospective parents, who may fear they will not be "approved." It may be helpful to remember agencies are not looking for perfect parents. Rather, they are looking for real parents to parent real children. With accurate information about the process, prospective parents can face the home study experience with confidence and the excitement that should accompany the prospect of welcoming a child into the family.

Specific home study requirements and processes vary greatly from agency to agency, State to State, and (in the case of intercountry adoption) by the child’s country of origin. This factsheet discusses the common elements of the home study process and addresses some concerns prospective adoptive parents may have about the process.

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THE NUTS AND BOLTS OF AN ADOPTION HOME STUDY

There is no set format that adoption agencies use to conduct their home studies. They must follow the general regulations of their State, but they have the freedom to develop their own application packet, policies, and procedures within those regulations. Some agencies will have you attend one or several group orientation sessions before you are invited to complete an application. Some will have their social worker see you individually either at the agency’s office or at your home and ask that you attend educational meetings later on. Usually the agency staff is glad to answer your questions and guide you through the process.

The following sections will describe typical information or activities that will be requested of you.

AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL STATEMENT
The autobiographical statement is essentially the story of your life. There will probably be guidelines that ask you to tell about your family origin. You may be asked to describe who reared you and their style of child rearing, how many brothers and sisters you have, and where you are in the birth order. Your statement may answer many questions. Were you close to your parents and siblings when you were a child, are you close now, how much contact do you have with them? What are some successes or failures that you have experienced? What educational level have you reached, do you plan to further your education, are you happy with your educational attainments, what do you think about education for a child? What is your employment status, your employment history, do you have plans to change employment, do you like your current job? If you are married, there will be questions about your marriage. These may cover how you met, how long you dated before you married, how long you have been married, what attracted you to each other, what your spouse’s strengths and weaknesses are, and the issues on which you agree and disagree in your marriage. Others may inquire how you make decisions, solve problems, settle arguments, communicate, express feelings, and show affection. If you were married before, there will be questions about that marriage. If you are single, there will be questions about your social life and how you anticipate integrating a child into it. You might need to provide a copy of your birth certificate, your marriage license or certificate, and your divorce decree, if applicable.

In your statement you will probably describe your ordinary routines, such as your typical week day or weekend, your hobbies and interests, and your leisure time activities. You may also describe your plans for child care if you work outside the home. There will be questions that cover your experiences with children, relatives’ children, neighbors, volunteer work, babysitting, teaching, or coaching. You might be asked some "what if" questions regarding discipline or other parenting issues.

You will probably be asked about your neighborhood: How friendly you are with your neighbors? What kind of people live nearby? Is it a safe area? Why did you pick this neighborhood? Are you located conveniently to community resources, such as medical facilities, recreational facilities, shopping areas, and religious facilities? And you will be asked about religion, your level of religious practice, and what kind of religious upbringing (if any) you will give the child.

There may also be a section on specific adoption-related issues, including questions such as why do you want to adopt, what kind of child do you feel you can best parent and why, how will you tell the child he or she is adopted and when, what do you think of birth parents who make an adoption plan for their child, how will you handle relatives’ and friends’ questions about adoption, and can you really bond to a child not genetically related to you.

You may not know all these answers right away! Hopefully, the worker guiding you through the home study process will offer advice on describing these various topics.

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The Adoption Home Study – An Introduction

Almost any adoption, whether it is a public agency adoption, a private agency adoption, or an independent adoption arranged directly with the court, requires a pre-adoptive placement inquiry, usually referred to as an "adoption home study."

Individuals seeking to adopt often face that first visit by the home study social worker with tender egos and mounting anxiety. Hopefully, though, this article can help calm your fears and allay your anxiety. Armed with accurate information, you can face your home study experience with confidence and the excitement that should accompany the prospect of welcoming a child to your family.

SOURCE: Adoption Solutions