Adoption Adventures

Follow Cory and Rebecca on their quest to adopt!

What’s this “home study” business about?

on December 10, 2011

In addition to the cost of adoption, people often have huge misconceptions about the home study that agencies do of/for families wishing to adopt. The home study involves criminal background checks, lots of paperwork, references, discussions with a social worker, minor medical tests, and a walk-through of your home.  To some people this may sound like a burden. Considering what children living in foster care have gone through, we welcomed the scrutiny. The home study is used when you inquire about a child that you hope to be matched with so that their social worker can determine if your personality, lifestyle, and situation is compatible with the child’s. The more information that your social worker knows about your family, the more accurate your home study will be and the better the chances of a successful match with a child.


The first part of our home study involved a field trip to the courthouse to get fingerprinted for our FBI background checks. We also met with a social worker from our agency to learn more about the process. As we waited for our FBI checks to come back (a process that, depending on the volume at the time, can take up to 12 weeks), we started working on the paperwork involved in the home study. We had to compile financial information, get doctors’ notes, take TB and HIV tests, and write a lot of essays about our lives, among other things. We were also requested criminal background checks from our county.  (I should say here that although our own medical and financial histories are pretty boring, having a medical condition or low income does not preclude a person from being approved to adopt.)  Through the written essays and discussions with our social workers, we talked about our own lives and how we came to the decision to adopt, as well as how we would work together as parents.


Our final meeting with our social worker was the home visit. As everyone who has been through it told us it would be, it was completely anticlimactic. We talked for a bit in the dining room and then showed our social worker around our house. It was just as if we were giving a friend a tour of the house. Contrary to popular belief, a family hoping to adopt does not need to have a bedroom picked out, decorated for a potential child, and baby proofed for their home visit. There needs to be a bedroom for the child, but it doesn’t need to be move-in ready by any means. (Gun owners will need to show that they keep their firearms in an appropriate safe, inaccessible to kids.) The purpose of the home visit is primarily to prove that the way you’ve presented yourself and home is accurate and to ensure that there aren’t major problems in your house that would make it unsafe for a child.


After all the paperwork, documents, and meetings, our social worker wrote up our actual home study. It’s thirteen pages, which is the condensed version of everything we submitted plus the social worker’s recommendations. It all took time but wasn’t nearly as invasive as the many doctors’ appointments our pregnant friends go through.


So that’s it! The home study is a time commitment and requires a lot of self-reflection and envisioning the future. But those are really things that any potential parent should be taking the time to do.


Here’s a more thorough explanation than we’ve provided of what goes into a home study, along a fancy video.

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