Home Study Process
Once you’ve chosen an adoption agency, the next step is to complete your Home Study Report. If you live within your agency’s service area, they’ll conduct your Home Study. However, if you live outside the service area of your agency, you’ll need to get a Hague-compliant agency to complete your Home Study.
Your adoption agency should be able to guide you through the detailed process. You can also refer to this Home Study resource for more details, as well as, finding Hague-compliant agencies near you. Also refer to the U.S Citizenship and Immigration services guidelines to ensure compliance with their requirements.
The documents and process vary by state regulations and your agency’s guidelines. But broadly speaking, the Home Study Report requires:
- Obtaining Background Checks and Clearances – This usually includes a state criminal background check, an FBI Criminal History Report and child abuse and neglect clearances for every state you’ve ever lived in. You will need to submit fingerprints and an application. It’s best to do this as soon as possible because it can take a long time, depending on the number of states you’ve resided in.
- Assigned Home Study Social Worker – The Home Study social worker will review the process and schedule the home visits.
- Collecting Home Study Documents – You will need to collect a large volume of documents such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, copies of passports, visas, drivers licenses, financial statements, health records, proof of employment and more. Your agency will give you a complete list.
- Adoption Home Study Visits – The social worker will make several visits to your home.
- Obtaining references from friends and others – You may also need to provide letters of reference from friends or other contacts.
- Professional Psychological Evaluation – A licensed/trained practitioner must prepare a psychological evaluation of the Prospective Adoptive Parents (PAPs) with a definitive recommendation. The practitioner must include a 35-40 minute interview with the prospective parents and make a determination about their motivation, temperament, stress tolerance, emotional stability, and decision making ability. CARA also will require the report to incorporate an assessment of the PAPs’ relationship with extended family, and non-relatives who may have close contact with the child.
- Home Study Review – You will have a chance to review the Home Study Report before it is finalized to make sure there are no errors or omissions.
- Home Study approval by agency – Your adoption agency must approve this report.
- Home Study Update – An update will be needed if any significant lifestyle or factual changes occur. These include a change in your employment status, address, the addition of a new family member, etc. You will also need an update if your Home Study or background clearances expire before the finalization of your adoption.