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Home Study Requirements - And How to Make Sure You Meet Them

What Do Social Workers Look for in a Home Study?

It’s common for a family considering adoption to have a lot of questions about the home study. For most families, they know, generally, what the home study is. But they lack the specifics, and this step of the process starts to feel scary and stressful. It doesn’t have to be that way.

You can complete the home study with little stress on your way to a successful adoption. There are two keys to doing this: research and professional guidance. As to the latter, American Adoptions’ expertly trained and certified adoption specialists would love to support you through the process, and you can contact them anytime at 1-800-ADOPTION. As for the research part, well, you’re already doing it.

We’ve created this guide to home study requirements to help prepare you for the process ahead. We’ve also created guides to the many other aspects of the home study. Our goal is for you to feel confident and prepared for this important step in your journey. With the right knowledge, you can complete the home study with ease.

What Are the Home Study Requirements?

The home study for adoption is made up of several parts. In each, a licensed social worker is reviewing a hopeful adoptive family’s living situation and evaluating their aptitude for adoption. The point of the home study is to ensure that every placement is safe and in the best interests of the child.

So, what do they look for in a home study? To help you understand the basic home study requirements, we’ve broken them down into three main steps. We’ll go over each step and explain what social workers will be looking for.

Step 1: Document Review

The adoptive family will fill out an application at the beginning of the home study process. The primary purpose of this is to make sure everyone has all of the basic identifying information — names, social security numbers, and address. There is also, beyond this basic information, a more detailed document review to begin the process.

The type of documents needed to meet home study requirements may vary depending on where you live. A social worker will typically need to see:

  • Medical records

  • Background checks

  • Proof of income

  • Autobiographies

  • Personal references

  • Any relevant immigration papers

  • And potentially more

 A family can prepare to meet the home study requirements by gathering these documents ahead of time.

Step 2: In-Home Visit

What do social workers look for in home visits? While it can depend partially on the state you are in, there are some key things they’ll always be looking for. Generally speaking, they need to make sure the home is suitable and safe for a child. Specifically, that means things like:

  • Functioning smoke alarms

  • Stairways with safe railings and gates

  • Sharp objects put away safely

  • Electrical outlets covered

  • A fire extinguisher present

  • Any firearms locked away

  • Proper locks on doorways and windows

  • General cleanliness

Many adoptive families are anxious about this part of the process, but contrary to what you might think, the home inspection is not a “white-glove test” on every surface in your home. Your home needs to be clean and tidy enough that it is safe for a child, but it does not need to be perfect! A social worker may need several visits to complete the in-home review, although sometimes it only takes one visit. This is the central piece of the adoption home study requirements.

Step 3: Interviews

In order to get to know the family better and evaluate their adoption readiness, a social worker will conduct an interview with each family member living in the house. During this interview, the family members will be asked questions about their personal history, their motivation to adopt and their plans for being a parent. What social workers look for in home visit interviews is somewhat subjective, as this is a very personal part of the process. Generally, they are looking for individuals who show the ability to be responsible parents, and who are knowledgeable about adoption.

Home Study Requirements by State

Adoption laws are set at the state level. Thankfully, laws from state to state do not vary too drastically. There is some sense of nationwide uniformity when it comes to the adoption process. However, one area where a family may notice a more significant difference is in the home study requirements by state. Some states require a much stricter background check than others, which can take longer to process. Others require more home visits from the social worker, which can also increase the amount of time it takes to complete the home study.

Figuring out the home study requirements by state for where you live can be tricky, which is why American Adoptions created the ultimate guide to adoption by state. This resource will help any family find out what their state’s home study requirements are.

Learn More about Home Study Requirements

There’s good news for any family considering adoption: you don’t have to navigate the home study requirements on your own. When you adopt, a specialist from American Adoptions can guide you through the whole process. Our adoption specialists’ experience and expertise makes the process much smoother and less stressful for hopeful families.

To speak with one of these specialists about the home study requirements or any other part of the adoption process, you can call 1-800-ADOPTION. You can also request more free information online. 

Disclaimer
Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. America Adoptions, Inc. provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do we need to retain our own attorney?

No, American Adoptions has established relationships with some of the best adoption attorneys in the nation. Because adoption laws vary from state to state and between counties, it is important to utilize the services of an adoption attorney who specializes in the state where the adoption will finalize, which is unknown until you match with an expectant mother. You have the right to retain your own attorney, but doing so may be an additional, unnecessary expense.

Can we choose the gender of our baby?

American Adoptions accepts a limited number of families into our gender-specific program. Please contact us at 1-800-ADOPTION to learn whether we are currently accepting families into this program. With this option, families pay an additional Gender-Specific Fee to help our agency locate and work with birth mothers meeting this additional criterion. This fee is in addition to other program fees and covers additional advertising. The fee is not considered part of your adoption budget. Please note that gender specificity will likely increase your wait time significantly.

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