Every prospective parent — regardless of if you’re adopting domestically, internationally, or from foster care — must have a home study done in order to be approved for adoption. The home study is a written record of your life that typically includes your personal background, family history, health and financial information, and parenting plan. It also includes a home visit and some interviews with a social worker (more information at What is a Home Study?).
Some parents find it strange that they need to open their personal lives and home to an outsider; however, it’s important to remember that the ultimate goal is to make sure that children are placed with loving families who are capable of taking care of them.
Parents frequently ask us how to prepare for a home study for adoption. Preparing for an adoption home study should be a methodical process. We’ve outlined the major steps of a home study below, as well as some general advice for adoption home study preparation.
Preparing for your adoption home study
1. Find a home study provider in your state
Home studies are regulated on a state-by-state basis. Some placement agencies can provide home study services, but there are also independent social workers and agencies who specialize in providing home studies.
If you are adopting internationally, it’s important to make sure that the home study provider you are working with is Hague-accredited or can be Hague-supervised for the country you are adopting from. This means that the agency adheres to the U.S. government’s rules for adopting internationally.
It can feel overwhelming to have to research so many options, so let us help you. Binti Adoption Services has a network of vetted, trusted, and highly qualified home study providers we work with. Sign up for your Binti account to start your home study application today.
2. Fill out the relevant paperwork & assemble the required documents
Once you’ve selected your home study provider, it’s time to fill out the home study paperwork. The provider you’re working with will usually mail you a copy of the forms to fill out. If you are working with Binti, we’ll send you login information so you can seamlessly fill out, sign, and submit the paperwork online.
In addition to the personal statements and general background information you provide, you will also need to provide copies of several documents, including a copy of your birth certificate, driver’s license, tax returns, and more. It’s helpful to take a quick look at what documents are generally required so you can start assembling them for your home study packet.
3. Think about your parenting plan and your motivation to adopt
Many parents find it helpful to view the home study as a way to learn about the adoption process. Throughout the home study process, you will likely be asked a series of questions on your parenting style and motivation to adopt (see Sample Home Study Questions for some typical examples of what you will be asked throughout the home study process) . This is a great opportunity to think through what kind of parent you’d like to be, what family you’d like to have, and to start educating yourself on adoption overall.
4. Make sure your home meets the safety regulations and guidelines for bringing a child into the home
Typically when a social worker visits your home, they are looking for any safety hazards and whether or not you have enough space for the child. For example, if you have a pool, they would want to see a fence around the pool or a locked pool cover so that children can’t get in without supervision. They would also check for basic safety items, such as a fire alarm, fire extinguisher, and covered electrical outlets. For a more comprehensive list, check out the “Household Items and Safety Consideration” section on our Home Study Checklist. Note that while the social worker will be interested in your plans for where the baby will stay in your house, your home doesn’t have to be 100% child-ready for the home study. For example, you don’t need to have a furnished nursery or even a separate bedroom for a baby at the time of the visit.
5. Schedule a home visit and interviews
After filling out the paperwork, the next step is to schedule your home visit and interviews with the social worker you’ve been assigned to. While your social worker will ask you several questions during your interview, remember that your social worker is also a great resource for any adoption-related questions you may have. The home study interview (or even during the scheduling process) is a great time to ask some of the questions you may have about the home study process or adoption.
Once you’re done with the home study, the social worker’s final home study report for adoption will become part of your packet that will get presented to a judge at your adoption finalization hearing. If it’s an international adoption, the home study report will typically get added to the dossier.