You have–the—choice of using a private agency to do your home study, or using the state agency that is assigned by the program. Some state agencies contract with private agencies to do their home studies. Be sure you ask about this when you have your informational meeting.
There are definite pros and cons to each type of agency. One of the largest differences is money. Private agencies charge a fee for the home study. State agencies generally do not charge any fees, or the fees are covered under the non-recurring expenses section of adoption fees.
If you choose to use a private agency for your home study, be sure that the agency is approved by the state. You don’t want to pay for the home study– only to find out it is not going to be accepted. Your state will have a list of approved adoption agencies.
Many private agencies have religious affiliations, and you may want an agency that has the same religious beliefs as your family, such as Catholic Charities, Lutheran Social Services, Jewish Family Services, and LDS Family Services. They also handle adoptions other than special needs, and you may be able to use the same home study if you decide to choose another type of adoption.
If you have a private agency do your home study, be sure to clarify who will do your follow-up visits after placement. Will this be done through the agency you have chosen, or will you be assigned a new worker from the state agency?
If a home study is done through a state, or public, agency it will be done through a social services office. In some states it is done at a county level, and in others it is done at a state level. You can contact your state agency to find out whether home studies are done on the county or state level. They will also be able to guide you to your county agency if that is the procedure for your state.
Can you switch agencies if needed?
Before you begin a home study with an agency, ask them what happens if you decide to switch agencies. If you do not have a good working relationship with the agency, and would like to switch, be sure that this is an option for you.
Ask for a copy of the home study.
State agencies may or may not release a copy of your home study to you, but may allow you to read it. If this option is available to you, be sure you do it. Check your home study for any thing that is inaccurate, or may be viewed as questionable or objectionable if you were viewing it to place a child. Your home study report is the first information a worker gets about you. Essentially, you are meeting them on paper. It is your first impression, and everyone knows how important first impressions are.