A home study is a requirement when adopting a child in the United States. The home study serves the purpose of getting the prospective parents ready for adoption as well as giving a full report to the adoption agency and birth parents. It consists of several areas including a home visit and full background check. While the requirements of a home study vary slightly for each state, there are many aspects of it which are the same.
Orientation and Interview
An orientation and interview will be conducted as the first step in the adoption process. During the orientation, the parents will fill out an extensive application and questionnaire, meet with the adoption agency and receive pertinent information about the home study process. The initial adoption interview will be the stepping stone for the rest of the process.
Training and Classes
In many states, parenting classes and training are required. These may include basic parenting classes, CPR and first-aid training as well as classes on adopting older children who have had a difficult past and how to deal with those issues.
Education, Employment and Income
As part of the extensive background screening, parents will be asked for a complete education background as well as the status of your current employment and income. You will provide proof of income through pay stubs and bank statements, employment history with professional references as well as tax and investment documentation and retirement and life insurance policies.
Background checks will be conducted for prospective parents, including any criminal and abuse history, history of violence, and jail sentences including paroles and fingerprinting. This is to ensure the children are entering into a safe and reliable environment.
Health screenings including inquiry into past or present medical conditions, drug screening and an updated medical workup will be done on the prospective parents. Be prepared for a physical including blood tests to determine the current status of your health.
The home visit is where an appointed person from the adoption agency or social services will come to your home to inspect it for various safety concerns and be sure it follows proper hygiene and health codes. To pass the home visit, you will need a clean and safe home. Your home will need a smoke and carbon monoxide detector, fire extinguisher, first-aid kit, fireplace screen, gate around a swimming pool and jacuzzi, gate at the bottom of the stairs (if adopting babies or small children), covered outlets, doors and windows that lock, posted emergency numbers, covered trash cans and the medical, cleaning and potentially toxic supplies in a locked cabinet or out of a child's reach.
All states require about three to five personal and professional references to get a report of your character, reliability and support network. The references should be people who have known you for an extended amount of time, who have seen you with your family and friends, worked with you and been to your home. Valid references include a co-worker or employer, close family friend, family member and neighbor.
In your home study you will also be asked several areas of personal information about your daily life, beliefs and relationships. This information is mostly for the birth parents to better choose a home they feel is fit for their child. You may be asked about your current relationship with your spouse, religious beliefs, type of house and neighborhood, parenting styles, hobbies and interests as well as the relationship between you and your family and friends.