What They're Seeking
There is no set format that adoption agencies use to conduct home studies. They must follow the general regulations of their state, but they have the freedom to develop their own application packet, policies, and procedures within those regulations. Some agencies will have prospective parents attend one or several group orientation sessions or a series of training classes before they complete an application. Others will have their social worker start by meeting with family members individually and then ask that they attend educational meetings later on. Usually agency staff members are glad to answer any questions and to guide applicants through the process.
Your home study is a written report of the social worker's findings after meeting with you on several occasions, both individually and together, usually at the social worker's office. At least one meeting will occur in your home. If there are other people living in your home, they also will be interviewed by the social worker.
On average the home study process takes three to six months to complete, but it can take longer through public agencies or less time through nonlicensed facilitators. The home study process, the contents of the written home study report, and the time it will take to complete vary from state to state and from agency to agency. In general, the following information is included in the home study:
- Personal and family background, including upbringing, siblings, key events, and what you learned from them
- Significant people in your lives
- Marriage and family relationships
- Motivation to adopt
- Expectations for the child
- Feelings about infertility (if this is an issue)
- Parenting and integration of the child into your family
- Family environment
- Physical and health history
- Education, employment and finances, including insurance coverage and child-care plans if needed
- References and criminal background clearances
- Summary and social worker's recommendation