How to Ace the Adoption Home Study
What to expect and how to get prepared
What Information Will We Need to Provide?
While you might cringe at the idea of having an outsider come in to assess your parenting capabilities, if you think about it from the child’s perspective it makes sense. Basically, the home study exists as a safeguard for children. But it can help parents, too. “[The home study] gives people an opportunity to prepare for adoptive parenthood by looking back at where they’ve been and forward toward where they’re going with a clearer vision of all the things that brought them to this point,” says Renee Lubowich, an adoption social worker in Wellesley, Massachusetts.
With that in mind, here are some answers to common questions about home studies to help you get ready.
Specific home study criteria vary from state to state and, for international adoptions, from country to country. A local adoption agency can tell you what your state requires. If you’re planning to adopt internationally, try to decide what country you want to adopt from before initiating a home study, says Sam Wojnilower, an adoption social worker and Russia program coordinator for Adoptions from the Heart, based in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. That way you can avoid the time and expense of having to redo parts of the process to meet the requirements of a particular country. An agency that deals with international adoption can advise you of the rules for different countries.
In general, you can expect to be asked to disclose your medical history, including testaments to your physical and medical health, and your financial status (you don’t have to be rich—just responsible). A social worker will also visit your home to, at a minimum, make sure there are no safety hazards and there is sufficient space for a child. Most states require a police background check and a child abuse background check; some also require federal criminal clearance.
States also give a lot of discretion to agencies, says Wojnilower, whose social workers will interview the prospective adoptive family, sometimes several times. Agencies might also ask you to write biographical essays, discuss your views on childrearing and discipline, or submit character references.
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