All prospective adoptive parents must take part in a home study. The objective of the homestudy is: to inform and make the family ready for the adoption, to collect information about the prospective adoptive parents so that they can be matched with a child put up for adoption and to determine whether the prospective adoptive family is fit to adopt a child.
Many prospective adoptive parents often feel nervous about homestudy fearing that they will not be approved. The fact is no agency is looking for the perfect parent. Rather they want to find real parents for the children.
The exact requirements of the homestudy will depend on the agency as well as the state law and the law of the child’s country of origin (in case of international adoptions). This section provides information about the homestudy process.
Elements of the Home Study Process
In general, the following information is usually included in the adoption homestudy:
• Personal and family background. Family configuration and childhood experiences of each adoptive parent; feelings about their parents and childhood; significant experiences for each adoptive parent; sibling and family relationships, past and present.
• Marriage and family relationships. Feelings about one’s marriage, oneself, and one’s spouse or partner (if not single); one’s ability to handle stress; significant experiences within the marriage; history of prior marriage(s) and reason(s) for divorce.
• Desire to adopt. Motivation for adoption; attitude of extended family toward adoption; feelings toward the birth parents of the adopted child; attitudes about open and closed adoption, search and reunion; feelings about and plans for helping the adoptee understand adoption.
• Expectations of the adopted child. Education plans, temperament, how parents will handle adoption issues, child training and discipline.
• Parenting and integration of child into home. Description of any parenting experience had by the prospective parents; parenting style and philosophy of discipline; adjustment of birth or other children to previously adopted children.
• Family environment. Parents’ lifestyle, including social, cultural, and religious orientations; availability of health care, philosophy of education, area educational resources, neighborhood, community, and a complete room-by-room description of the family’s house and yard.
• Physical health and history. Documentation that the ages and health of the adoptive parents are such that they can meet the needs of a child.
• Education, employment, and finances. Verification of the education of both adoptive parents, adequate insurance, and any other resources, and the plan for the child if both parents work. Some states require a credit history as part of the homestudy.
• References and background clearances. Includes criminal background check, checks for sexual offender, child abuse, and domestic violence records, and at least three written references from people other than relatives.
The Home Study Report
The homestudy process ends with a homestudy report which is essentially the findings of the social worker. Besides the above information, the homestudy report will contain the summary and recommendations of the social worker including verification that the home is a healthy, safe environment in which to raise a child; desires of adoptive parents and recommendations of social worker regarding the age, sex, characteristics and special needs of children best served by the family.
Although there are variations in the way a homestudy might be conducted, in most cases it will determine whether a couple’s application to adopt is accepted by the agency. Homestudy is almost always conducted by state-licensed social workers. During a homestudy, the social worker explores with the prospective adopters their reasons for wanting to adopt a child, their personal values, and their childrearing practices. Home visits are arranged, and in-office interviews are conducted–usually with the couple both together and separate. Many agencies also conduct group interviews. The social worker then evaluates the couple’s readiness to assume the responsibilities of parenthood.