One common connection that all adoptions have is the home study process. A home study is needed when you are adopting an unrelated child in a domestic or international adoption or a relative child in a domestic and international adoption, you even need a home study when you are adopting a step-child. The purpose of the home study is to produce a document, the home study, that verifies that you are qualified and capable of parenting a child and that you have appropriate understanding of the commitment of adoption and have appropriate motivations.
The home study also makes sure that you do not have any history of domestic violence or any disqualifying criminal history. Disqualifying history can consist of a history of criminal violence, or drug and alcohol abuse history within the last five to ten years. Anyone who has had a history of drug or alcohol abuse would have to demonstrate rehabilitation. If you are married, proof of marriage has to be seen as well as proof of age. Your residence needs to be inspected for safety and suitability for the family and the child.
At the end of the home study you will read the home study to make sure that the agency or person doing the home study has documented the following information about you:
- Social history (parent, siblings, where you grew up)
- Criminal clearance
- Child abuse clearance
- Medical history
- References (3 to 5)
- Experience with children
- Adoption plan
- Motivation to adopt
- Description of your home that documents the safety and appropriateness of the home
- Documentation of any training
- Documentation of meeting state and if applicable international standards for prospective adoptive parents
- Documentation of prospective adoption parents understanding of the risks in adoption
- A general description of the child the prospective adoptive parents are hoping to welcome into their family (age, race, health, risk factor)
As you may have already realized, all of this documentation requires multiple forms that can be redundant. When the packet of forms is delivered to you in the mail, it can be overwhelming, but take a breath and remember that you know most of the answers to the question in the forms. If you have some missing memories there is a good chance that your family will be able to fill in the gaps.
By the time you have finished the home study, your agency will know more about you than some of your best friends. This can be a good thing if you are doing a domestic adoption and we are speaking about you to a birth mother. All of your documents are confidential, we cannot share any information without your permission. Your home study and items such as criminal clearances can only be shared with entities such as courts, or federal government agencies (USCIS) and all of these entities have processes to protect your information.
As you work on your home study, motivate yourself by understanding that the home study is key to proceeding with an adoption process. It is a foundational part of the documents needed to adopt a child.
A home study can be easily modified from a domestic home study to an international home study and vice versa. A step parent home study mostly is focused on the step parent of the child. Each country in an international adoption has required information that is slightly different in each home study.
Each state and sometimes courts within the state can have different requirements for a home study provider. Some state laws require agency home studies only. All international adoptions require a Hague accredited agency to conduct the home study or be supervised by an accredited agency or authorized social worker. Domestic adoptions vary from state to state and by individual counties and regions within a state but using an authorized or licensed adoption agency is most always acceptable to all of the courts. It is always best to get the correct information before you begin a home study process. You don’t want to pay a private social worker and spend all the time doing a home study only to find out the courts will not accept the home study no matter how well it was done. As in most everything we do, research is key. An adoption agency is often a good start to the process.
I encourage single persons or married couples to make what can be a tedious process of filling in the forms into a fun night. Turn the television off, get your favorite food and sit at the dining room table and just begin to fill in the forms one at a time. Make a date night and try to enjoy the process of starting your family or adding a new child to your family. Take pictures of all your progress and document the time you spent for your future child. Do your paperwork and know that the best is yet to come and that all of your efforts are the first steps to one of the best days of your life: the day you find your child.
Do you have more questions about the home study process? Give us a call today at 1-800-535-5555! Or check out our website for more information! http://www.adoptfamilyconnections.org/