Home Study (Glossary)
Home Study: A home study is sometimes called an "adoption study," and is a written report containing the findings of the social worker who has met on several occasions with the prospective adoptive parents, has visited their home, and who has investigated the health, medical, criminal, family and home background of the adoptive parents. If there are other individuals that are also living in the home of the adoptive parents, they will be interviewed and investigated, if necessary, by the social worker and included as part of the home study. The purpose of the home study is to help the court determine whether the adoptive parents are qualified to adopt a child, based on the criteria that have been established by state law.
Considerations that need to be taken into account in pursuing an adoption are the particular type of adoption, the particular needs of the child, and that they are prepared to meet the joys and challenges of the specific adoption.
The home study is a vital piece of the adoption process, required for both domestic and international adoptions. It may seem intimidating but it serves a number of purposes, including educating and preparing the adoptive family, gathering information that will aid in making the best possible parent-child match, and evaluating the fitness of the family for adoption.
Home studies are conducted by social workers, either independent or associated with an adoption agency. It consists of a number of different pieces which the social worker pulls together to create a picture of the family at the end of the process. While the precise requirements and steps vary between states and agencies, there are some typical steps to expect as part of the home study process.
A home study may involve training sessions that focus on the needs of adopted children. Multiple interviews give parents and social worker the chance to know each other - a vital factor for ensuring an appropriate placement. Interviews will cover such topics as reasons for adopting, your own childhood and how you see a child fitting into your family. Partners may be interviewed separately, together, or both. If there are children in the family already, they will probably be included in interviews.
The home visit is a big piece of the home study process, but rest assured, it is not a white glove test! The social worker will be ensuring your home meets state licensing standards and that there is adequate space to accommodate another family member. Health and income statements ensure you have a reasonable life expectancy and can manage your money wisely. Vast riches are not requires. Neither is perfect health. A health condition that is under control (such as managed diabetes) is not usually a problem, though one that impacts your life expectancy could disqualify you.
Background checks - to ensure there is no history of child abuse - references, and autobiographical statements are usually required as well. The social worker then uses all these pieces of information to create a home study report. The report covers the important aspects of the study and presents a picture of your family life - daily routines, the marital relationship, plans for child care and religion, and more. The report will conclude with a summary and the social worker's recommendation - usually including guidelines as to which age range and number of children will have the best fit with your family.
See also Home Study for more information about the process.