What’s an adoptive home study? What does it entail? What do you need to do, and how do you survive the process? I often tell families that the home study process is intrusive, but everyone has to go through it if they want to adopt a child. It’s not anything unique to any one family – everyone is required to go through an adoptive home study.
Now that we got that out of the way let’s dive into the different aspects of the home study process. As I mentioned, the home study is required when you want to adopt a child. Even grandparents interested in adoption have to go through the home study process. The courts recognize it as the gold standard for allowing a family to adopt a child. It’s a common hoop that every family has to jump through, and there are lots of personal questions that are asked about your family, your finances, and your background.
While it’s commonly believed that the home study process is about the home, the name is often misleading. The home study process is learning about who you are as a family. We dig into your childhood, how you were raised, your marriage if you’re parenting children, and how you plan on parenting your future child. If you’ve come to this through infertility, we want to learn more about how you grieved your infertility and how you’re ready to move on to embrace an adopted child. We don’t really want to know the type of home you’re in, but rather the home environment and who you are as future parents.
Here are several topics you’ll need to discuss in your home study:
1: Your motivation for adoption and why you chose this route
Is it because you feel led to adopt or that infertility brought you here? Another topic discussed, specifically with domestic adoption, is openness and how you feel about having future contact with the birth family. What are your feelings about birth families, and what do you think about their decision to place their child up for adoption?
2: The stability of your marriage (if you’re married)
How did you meet your spouse, and how do you communicate with each other? How do you handle household chores and finances, and how are responsibilities divided up between your family? What are your parenting philosophies, and how are you doing those things with your current children, if any? How do you discipline them and plan on disciplining your future child? What are your plans for childcare, and, if they’re particularly young, what daycare are you planning on bringing them to? Do you plan on staying home? Do you plan to use a nanny or family members?
We’ll gather parent references, references for your children, and employment verifications. These references will also tell us about your family and home life, looking from the outside in. We’ll perform different background checks, such as national sex offender registry checks.
4: Your physical and mental health
You’ll have a physical done as part of this process to show you have a normal life expectancy. If there are any mental health issues such as anxiety, bipolar, depression, or anything else similar to these, how are you managing those conditions? Are you taking medication? Do you do other things to help you manage them, like getting extra sleep or exercising? We’ll also give you health forms that will be completed by your physician.
5: Your finances
This is a big one. How secure is your family financially? This is where more of the intrusive stuff happens. We just want to be able to show the courts that your family is financially stable and able to afford the adoption process and raise the child once you bring them home.
One of the bigger steps that you’ll take as part of the home study process is complete autobiographies. We’ll give you an outline and give you a list of questions that we want you to answer, and then you’ll go through and share your autobiographies with us.
7: Home visits
A caseworker will come into your home, and if you have children, he or she will also meet and talk with them.
Home study can be a very long and intrusive step in the process, but no two home studies are exactly the same. One agency may do hours of interviewing, but another might not. While the processes may differ from agency to agency, the paperwork gathered is the same because the state requires it.
Don’t let the whole process discourage you. Ask questions of each agency you speak with regarding this step. And remember, if you are looking at starting the adoption process, just know you gotta start somewhere.
If you haven’t already, take the first step and learn about adoption and all that comes with it by taking the All About Adoption 101 course.