What is a home study?
Home studies are written assessments of the prospective adoptive parents’ ability to provide a nurturing family and home for the adoptive child(ren). Home studies are not designed to grade applicants on their parenting ability; but rather, to prepare the prospective adoptive parents for adoption and to ensure that the adoptive child will be joining a loving and safe home.
Home studies are required for any individual or couple who want to adopt in the U.S. To assess the prospective parents’ fitness as adoptive parents, applicants are required to submit: autobiographical statements, employment and financial information, personal references, and background checks for criminal records and records of child abuse and/or neglect. In addition, many states require applicants to submit results of their recent medical examinations.
The home study includes onsite home visits to determine if the home: is safe, is in compliance with local building codes, and is able to comfortably accommodate all family members. The applicants and all family members (including children) are interviewed to assess the applicants’ parenting abilities, their attitudes toward adoption, and other social and personal characteristics.
How long does a home study take to complete?
It varies, but on average, a home study takes about two to three months. If an expectant mother’s due date is soon, some adoption professionals are able to arrange an expedited home study.
Who is included in the home study?
In some states, any adult member of the household must be evaluated. While, in other states, any member of the household, regardless of age, must be evaluated in the study.
Who conducts the home study?
In most states, a licensed child-placing agency or department can conduct a home study. In some states a licensed clinical social worker or a licensed psychologist or therapist may conduct the home study. It is important that you check your state laws on who is eligible to conduct the home study. This information can be found at: https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/homestudyreqs_adoption.pdf.
Do I need to be married to apply?
No. Typically, any adult, whether single or married, may apply to adopt a child. In the state of Alabama, Arkansas, and New York, however, married couples need to be married for a minimum length of time.
How long is a home study valid for?
It varies from state to state. In most states, if a placement is not made within a certain amount of time, the home study will need to be updated to verify that the prospective adoptive parents are still eligible to adopt.
What happens after the child is placed?
Once a child has been placed with an adoptive family, an adoption professional will make regular visits to the home and interview all family members to see how the adoptive child is adjusting to his/her new family and how well the child’s specific needs are met. The period of supervision will continue until the adoption is finalized by the court.