All adoptions will require an investigation that is termed the adoption home study. The adoption home study is a series of visits that will help explore your readiness to adopt as well as prepare you for the child you are hoping to welcome into your family. The adoption home study must follow the requirements of the state licensing department as well as those of the USCIS (the US citizens and immigrant services department under the U.S. State Department). There are various specific guidelines and regulations that must be adhered to completing your adoption home study.
You will need to have an adoption home study even if you are planning to enter into an independent or parent-initiated adoption. Families pursuing international adoption will need a primary provider agency.
- The adoption home study will consist of an orientation meeting, the application to the agency, individual interviews, a home visit, and inspection and may include group meetings or discussions. On average the adoption home study can take anywhere from six weeks to six months depending on individual circumstances and how quickly you can gather required paperwork.
- The adoption home study will deal with the dynamics of the individual adopter, the marriage, the subsequent adjustments of parent and child, various issues that children from institutional settings may face and complications thereof, discussions on transracial and cross-cultural adoptions as applicable.
- Your caseworker will be a professional trained to help perspective adoptive parents explore the many facets of adoption and help you make the best possible decisions for your family. All members of the immediate family whether living in the home or not must be interviewed. The caseworker and the prospective adoptive parents will explore and discuss the types of children available, various nuances of the different types of adoption programs available as well as the applicants of ability to parent as well as their ability to parent children with various disabilities.
By the end of the adoption home study process the adoptive applicants must agree on a minimum and maximum age of the child there willing to adopt, the number of siblings, gender, race as well as any possible medical or psychological conditions that they would be willing to consider. This child description recommendation must be included in the adoption home study. For those applicants seeking to adopt internationally, it is important that the child description match what is written in the US CIS immigration paperwork (the I600-A or I800-A form) that the adoptive parents will be submitting to the US government.
The adoption homestudy paperwork
Adopting a child is a legal process and it will require a fair amount of paperwork gathering. Please understand the need for this is to fully screen applicants for the safety of the child as well as to prepare the future parents for the important role they are undertaking. For those who are adopting internationally many of the documents assembled for your home study will also be used later to prepare a file called the dossier is submitted to the foreign country for your adoption.
Adoption Homestudy Paperwork:
- Birth certificates for each member of the family
- Copies of your marriage certificate
- Copies of any death certificate if applicable
- Divorce decrees if applicable
- Letters from your employer stating your length of employment and confirming your annual salary
- A financial statement outlining your net worth and possibly your monthly expenses
- Copies of your health and life insurance policies
- Medical examinations
- Copies of your income tax returns
- Letters of reference- generally 3 to 5 and not from family members
- Photos of you as well as your home
- Police clearances- locally as well as FBI
- Child abuse Registry statements from any place you have lived since age 18; for those adopting domestically child abuse registries from any place you have lived in the past 10 years.
- Adoption education certificates
- Statement of your guardianship plan in the event of untimely death of adoptive parents
The above is just a general outline of the requirement for your adoption homestudy and your child placing agency or country may require other items.
The adoption home study can only be completed once all the paperwork is in. It is very important to note that many of your items are time sensitive, and therefore it is important that you are active and prompt in gathering paperwork. For example, in person interviews and background clearances can be no older than six months at the time that the home study is completed. Once AHC has all the paperwork we need the agency can generally complete your home study within four weeks. If you are adopting internationally and using another agency for child placement that agency must also review, make any corrections and approve the home study before can be completed. The review and corrections that the other agency may require could add time to the completion of your adoption home study.