Requirements of a Home Study

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Requirements of a Home Study

Requirements of a Home Study

The  home study is one of the first and most important steps in the foster/adoption process because it serves as a checkpoint to foster/adoptive families, ensuring that each family member is ready for the adoption and that their home is a safe and viable environment in which to raise a child. 

While foster/adoption home study requirements vary among agencies and states, there are several core elements of an adoption home study that remain consistent.

HEALTH STATEMENTS: foster/adoptive family must  have current health examinations included in the  home study. Medical checks completed by the adoptive family’s physician will assess all family members’ current health conditions, life expediencies and physical and mental capabilities to effectively care for a child.

BACKGROUND CHECKS:  state and federal criminal background checks for all adoptive and foster parents.

FINANCIAL DOCUMENTATION: families do not need to be wealthy to foster/adopt a child, but they must have an adequate financial foundation to support an addition to their family. This is why many home study providers require certain documentation, such as paycheck stubs or tax returns, to ensure the family has the financial wherewithal to provide a stable home for a child. The foster/adoptive family should be prepared to answer questions about their income, assets, investments and retirement funds, as well as their monthly expenditures, such as mortgage and car payments, food, utilities and insurance.

IN-HOME VISIT – HOME TOUR: When prospective foster/adoptive families hear the term “home study,” they often envision the home tour and a nosy outsider performing the “white glove test” on every piece of furniture or window ledge in their homes. This is a very common misconception. While the home does have to be safe and sanitary, it does not have to be immaculate like many families believe.

The home tour is a review of more home-based issues, such as if the family has firearms, smoke detectors, enough living space for a child, pets or livestock, and a fence around the pool. 

FOSTER/ADOPTIVE PARENTS AUTOBIOGRAPHY: Highlighting all aspects of the foster/adoptive family’s lives, autobiographies are included in every adoption home study, but not all home study providers conduct them in the same manner. Prior to the in-home visit, many home study providers will ask the adoptive family to complete a written autobiography, detailing their lives, family dynamics, childhood memories, infertility issues, coping mechanisms, relevant hobbies and anything else deemed relevant by the home study provider.

Some autobiographies are completed during the interview process, where the home study provider processes each parent’s story and includes their own written biography of the family in the home study report.

PERSONAL REFERENCES: Just as in a job application, personal references are important for an outsider to confirm the applicant’s background and qualifications. Adoption agencies typically look for three to five confidential references, one of which can sometimes be a relative. Each respondent is asked to answer many parenting-related questions, which may include the general characteristics of the family, the relationship of the adoptive parents, the coping skills of the family during a stressful or crisis situation, the family’s strengths and weaknesses, and whether or not the respondent would entrust the prospective adoptive family to look after their child. These references do not necessarily make or break a home study, but inauspicious trends found among respondents could negatively affect the outcome of the home study.

RELIGION AND ETHNIC BACKGROUND: The adoptive family’s religious beliefs and ethnic traditions are explored in the home study, mainly to give the adoption agency more knowledge about the type of environment in which the child will be raised. The family’s denomination, frequency of service attendance and practices, celebrated holidays, and the intention of the child’s religious affiliation are all aspects of religion established in the foster/adoption home study. Some birth mothers request families of certain religions, and certain agencies only allow families of specific religions to adopt with the agency.

The adoptive family’s race and ethnic traditions are identified to educate the adoptive family concerning social and cultural issues pertaining to an interracial adoption.

HOME STUDY REPORT: Using all of the documentation, autobiographical statements and personal interviews of the foster/adoptive family, the home study provider systematically presents the story of the foster/ adoptive family in a biographical format and will ultimately qualify or disqualify the home study. The report includes the foster/adoptive parents’ childhood experiences, hobbies, education and employment, as well as their own parents’ backgrounds and the values they instilled in their children to help them become successful parents. The foster/adoptive parents’ motivations and attitudes toward adoption are chronicled, as well as their readiness to adopt.

All other aforementioned documents are represented in the home study report, including financial documents, health and criminal background checks, and personal references.