If you've just started to explore domestic infant adoption, you might be wondering 'what is an adoption home study, anyway? Should I have the biggest and nicest home on the block?'
The answer is definitely no. A home study is really a people study. The process serves to evaluate your ability to be parents. The adoption home study provider is a social worker who will help prepare you for parenting. They're there to help you and equip you for success!
Requirements vary from state to state, but the process typically starts with filling out paperwork about you, your family, income (can you afford to raise a child?), medical history, and your beliefs about discipline.
Both you and your spouse will get physicals because your home study provider will want to know that you're both healthy enough to parent. They will also request that you are fingerprinted by the FBI to check on any criminal history. The overall goal is responsible and loving parents with stable income and no criminal history or mental illness in their past.
Next, the home study provider will set up a time to meet with you in your home. He or she will tour your home and check for safety issues, such a fire extinguisher, and an evacuation plan. Do you have a bedroom reserved for the baby or child you'll adopt? If you have a pool, is there a safety fence installed around it? These are a few examples of the things that he or she will check for.
If the home study provider finds any issues, you'll have an opportunity to correct them. Then, this social worker will interview you and your spouse. They will want to get to know both of you and your hopes for the future. They will ask you to share details about your family background, lifestyle, careers, and religious affiliation. You might have a request for personal letters of recommendation from those close to you.
You'll want to make sure to check in with your home study provider, to keep your report current. Having an up-to-date home study ensures that you're able to step forward with any adoption opportunity presented to you. So if you've moved or changed jobs, be sure to let them know!
After you adopt, your home study provider will make a few post-placement visits. They'll give you an opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback on how your family is settling in. If you need assistance with information on parenting issues, local playgroups, and/or resources unique to your adoption, this would be the time to ask. Your home study provider is another resource there to help make your adoption a successful and joyful experience!