The adoption homestudy is a detailed written report and screening of the home and life of prospective adoptive parents prior to allowing an adoption to take place. In the U.S, and in all international adoptions, a home study is required by law. This can take three to six months to finish. The adoption home study requires the prospective adoptive family to gather different documents, answer several questions, and explore their reasons for adopting. Through a series of visits and interviews the social worker can get a complete picture of who prospective adoptive parents are and what life is like in their family. Once this criteria is met an official legal document is filed with the state and good for one year.
Specific home study requirements and processes vary greatly from agency to agency, State to State, and (in the case of international adoption) by the child's country of origin. The adoption home study can include the following pieces of information depending on their location.
Autobiography/Family Background: Some states or agencies have a social worker working very closely with the family to finish this part of the home study, while others have a detailed list of questions that the agency wants answered.
Neighborhood/Community/Schools: prospective adoptive parents need to know what their school system is like. Which schools their children will attend and what resources does their community have to offer.
Physical Health: You may need a physical or health exam and/or a Tuberculosis(TB) test or chest x-ray. The social worker will also be interested in hearing how you have any health issues under control.
Financial Statements: Adoptive parents must be able to show that they can care for an additional person(s) with their current income. They need to verify their income with paycheck stubs, W-4, or income tax forms. they may also need to show information on savings, insurance coverage, investments and debts.
Criminal Clearances: Most states require by law criminal record and child abuse record checks. Felony convictions of any charge involving children or illegal substances will most likely not be allowed.
References: Adoptive parents will need the names, addresses, and phone numbers of three or four references. Some agencies will contact by phone, others will require that your references write a letter of recommendation.
Interviews: Interviews are a time for the social worker to go over the prospective adoptive parents paperwork, learn more about them, clarify anything in their autobiography and see that their home is a safe and healthy place for a child.
If You Already Have Children: Some agencies will have the children write a statement about their feelings toward adoption. If they are too young, they may be asked to draw a picture. Workers will want to know about prospective adoptive parents children's interests, hobbies, and grades. Their children will be involved in interviews, and may meet with the social worker individually.