What are the first steps in the adoption process? One that is very important is the home study, a document compiled by a social worker about you. The social worker will meet with you and your family to talk and ask questions, so as to establish your family values and ensure the right placement of an adopted child/children. The time needed to complete the home study can vary among adoption agencies, but also depends upon the completion/receipt of various required documents/information. The timing could be relatively short or many months.

Some of the required documents/information needed for the home study include autobiography/family information, information about your community, physical/medical information of the family, personal finances, background and child protective services checks for where you presently live and where you have lived in the past, and references. The adoption agency may also ask you to write an autobiography about your childhood, current lifestyle, relationship with your children if applicable, and relationship with your partner, if applicable.

The time needed to complete the home study can vary among adoption agencies, but also depends upon the completion/receipt of various required documents/information.

The social worker will also want to verify information about your community, your home, and local school system. You will be asked how long have you resided in your home, to show the bedroom the adopted child would have, and provide detailed  information about the local school system your child would be attending.

You will be asked to provide financial documents. These will include verification of the debts and assets you have, such as checking and savings account statements, loan statements, mortgage statements, retirement or investments statements, and any other financial obligation documents.

During the visits with your social worker, he/she will be ask you about your relationships with your children or partner, if applicable. The discussion will include what you enjoy most about parenting, your discipline techniques, and what you want to incorporate or not incorporate from your childhood into the parenting of your child. If you have a partner, they will ask about your relationship, how you met, when/if you got married, what attracted you to the other person, and how you resolve conflicts.

The number of meetings may vary by adoption agencies, but you will meet at least a few times with your social worker. One of the visits will be in your home, not to see how clean it is or how it is decorated, but to ensure that the home will be safe for the child.

there are many variables that can affect the timeline of completing the home study.

So, as mentioned, there are many variables that can affect the timeline of completing the home study. How many times do you need to meet with your social worker and how flexible is your schedule to complete these visits? How long does it take you to gather the required documentation for your home study? The number of locales you have lived in the past few years will affect the timeline because of the number of background checks and child protective services checks that will need to be completed. The timeline of these background check requests can vary drastically from locale to locale.

As an adoptive mom and a social worker who helps families complete home studies, I know it can feel overwhelming, stressful, and intimidating. But just take one step at a time, one document at a time, and it won’t feel so overwhelming. And remember, your social worker is there to help, so ask them your questions about how to expedite the process.

Any tips you have to improve the home study process?

If you’re interested in adoption and would like to speak with an adoption professional about your adoption options, click here.