adoption home study process
georgia, florida & alabama
The Home Study process is similar for everyone, but there will also be some unique differences depending on the details of your situation and what state the prospective adoptive parents live in.
A Home Study is a basic overview of your family’s life, history, and home, which allows both the courts and our adoption agency to determine if a stable emotional, physical, and financial environment exists for an adopted child. Home Studies highlight items such as your current familial relationships, familial history, your interactions with children, the health of your home and neighborhood.
Since the Home Study can be the lengthiest step while getting ready to adopt, we recommend that you begin the process as soon as possible, especially since collecting documents for a Home Study can be time consuming. Items such as birth certificates and marriage licenses can be difficult to obtain but are required to confirm your identity; background checks are also required to review any criminal records, if any.
We know this process can seem confusing and even daunting, given the level of detail the review requires. Abiding Love Adoptions is here to simplify the process, answer all of your questions, and set your mind at ease. Keep reading to learn about what to expect during the home study process, then give us a call at 1-800-277-0748. We’d love to talk with you and discuss how we can help.
what to expect
Step 1: start gathering documents and records
One of the first things a social worker will do in the home study is review several documents. One of the best ways a family can prepare for the Home Study and help speed up the process is by collecting these documents ahead of time. While your social worker may ask for something that isn’t on this home study checklist, you can get a head start by gathering the following:
- Personal IDs (such as a driver’s license)
- Birth certificates
- Social security cards
- Marriage certificates (if married)
- Proof of citizenship or proof of legal immigration
- Proof of income
- Proof of employment
- Medical records
- Immunization records
- Pet vaccination records from the vet
- Tax Documents (State and IRS)
Step 2: prep your home
Your Home Study social worker will conduct an in-home visit during which they make sure your home is safe for a child. You can help this in-home visit be smooth and successful by preparing your home ahead of time and ensuring you have:
- Functioning smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
- Gates on stairs
- Covered electrical outlets
- Secure, locked windows with screens
- A first-aid kit on hand
- Any firearms out of reach and locked up
- Functioning heating and cooling
- No lead paint
- A safe yard with proper guardrails/gates around any decks or pools
- Safe, functioning appliances
step 3: think about the interview
Following the home review, family members will also be interviewed. This is a chance for your social worker to get to know you and to evaluate your adoption readiness. One of the most important adoption Home Study tips we can give is to think about the interview questions you will likely hear beforehand, as well thought-out answers go a long way. Each interview is different, but you are likely to hear questions such as:
- What is your motivation to adopt?
- What is your parenting style?
- How has your own childhood affected the way you see parenting?
- Tell me about your marriage.
- Tell me about your job.
- How much do you know about the adoption process?
- Have you learned about the unique aspects of raising a child who comes home through adoption?
- What are your thoughts on cultural diversity?
- What is your approach to potentially having a transracial family?
- What are your hopes and dreams for your child?
- Why do you feel adoption is right for your family?
Throughout the document review, home inspection, and interviews, it is important to remember that this whole process exists to protect children. At some points, it is common to feel frustrated. You may feel cornered by questions or think the home inspection is too invasive in your personal space, but this process is necessary as it ultimately protects adoptive children and ensures safe placement.
more adoption home study tips
- Clearly Communicate: Be open and honest throughout this whole process with your adoption specialist and your home study social worker. The clearer the lines of communication are, the better the process will be. Even when you feel total honesty may not benefit you, it’s important to never hide details or blur the truth.
- Remain Flexible: Requests are going to be made that you don’t see coming. It’s unfortunate, but a process this personal will have some unique twists and turns. Keep this in mind from the outset and stay flexible as things change. This will make it easier on your home study social worker and potentially help speed up the home study process.
- Stay Positive: The Home Study can feel invasive, frustrating, and overwhelming. It’s not normal to have someone you hardly know review your entire life. It’s understandable, then, that some families would develop negative feelings. However, focusing on those feelings is not helpful for the process. Instead, stay focused on the positive and remember that the home study exists to protect children. Everyone involved wants the best outcome, and you’re all on the same team.
- If adopting an infant, you do not need to have a nursery set up, nor does it need to be childproof.
If you’d like to learn more about the home study or how to prepare, call 1 (800) 277-0748 to speak with an adoption specialist. We would be happy to help you start the home study process.
how is Abiding Love's home study process different
At Abiding Love, we believe in simplifying the Home Study process and have designed our Adoption Agency model to completely avoid the issues that the traditional model now presents. Our goal is to ensure that the adoption process is a positive experience for you, that we empower and educate Prospective Adoptive Parents so that when they are “matched” they are ready to love her big and well. Learn more about our home study process.
when should we start the home study
You should begin your Home Study process as soon as you are ready to begin the adoption process. Your Home Study will take an average of six to eight weeks to complete.
home study services for embryo adoption
Yes, Abiding Love Adoptions has completed Home Studies for couples pursuing Embryo Adoption. Although an Embryo Adoption Home Study is virtually identical to a traditional domestic Adoption Home Study, some Embryo Adoption Providers require extra steps or paperwork. If you need a Home Study for an Embryo Adoption, ask your Adoption Provider what items they require for their Home Study process, and Abiding Love Adoptions will ensure those steps are completed. A typical Embryo Adoption Home Study takes approximately six to eight weeks to complete.
Medical conditions are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Most medical conditions are not prohibitive for adoptive families as long as you are under a physician’s care. A current physician’s health form is a required supporting document. This informs us of any medical conditions that you may have and asks your doctor if you have any medical or psychiatric problems that could affect your ability to be an adoptive parent. A physician’s health form also asks the doctor if, based on his or her knowledge, you have a normal life expectancy. Abiding Love Adoptions will request additional medical and/or psychiatric information as necessary to complete the Home Study.
dui or other criminal background
If you have ever been arrested, the incident is likely on your arrest record. This will not automatically prohibit you from getting an approved Home Study. It will, however, slow the Home Study process until an assessment of the situation can be made. If you or another member of your household have an arrest record, the person with the record will be notified. He or she is required to obtain a dissemination report from the arresting city or county; only that person can obtain this information. Due to confidentiality, Abiding Love Adoptions can only discuss the issue with the person who has the record. In addition to the dissemination report, additional documentation may be required, depending on the contents of the arrest record. For example, if you have been convicted of a DUI, we would ask for proof of alcohol related counseling or education (often mandated by the court), probation reports/discharge, sponsor letters and Judicial Orders of Compliance. You will also need to record the circumstances surrounding that particular event in your life and the steps you have taken since to ensure that this does not happen again. In short, depending on the offense and date of the offense, you might not be precluded from Adopting. We always encourage our clients to be honest with us so that we can properly assess and make a safe determination.
updating your home study prior to its expiration
A Home Study may need to be amended if your adoption plan changes during your wait. For instance, if you decide to open yourself to additional race combinations, your Home Study will need to be amended to reflect that.
Each state places varying expiration dates for a Home Study.
home study expiration
Yes, a Home Study can expire.
Abiding Love Adoptions requires yearly updates to adhere to state and ICPC policies. We follow this strict policy on Home Study updates because an adoptive family residing in a state where their Home Study is good for 18 months could be presented with an adoption opportunity with a birth mother whose state requires a Home Study update every 12 months. The Adoption would be delayed due to this complication, so we require yearly updates to avoid this issue.
In addition to an update to your written Home Study, there are a few supporting documents that require yearly renewal prior to their date of expiration, such as your background clearances (child abuse, FBI, and criminal clearances), physician health reports, and tax returns.
post-placement supervision visits
What is ICPC?
why is ICPC so Important?
What does this mean? A LOT OF RED TAPE! This is why it is so important for the Home Study provider you choose to complete your Home Study is up to date on your states Home Study Regulations and ICPC requirements. ICPC can take anywhere between a couple of DAYS to a couple of WEEKS. ICPC requires certain Background Checks, Medical Tests, Medical Vaccinations, Water/Sewer Checks, etc…
Abiding Love takes great pains to organize your Home Study packet to have EVERYTHING your State’s ICPC requires so that you do not spend more time than necessary in your child’s Birth State scrambling to get documents from home to ICPC. When your Home Study is complete we will provide you with 4 Originally Signed Home Study Narrative Reports and 1 Set of Home Study Exhibits with a Table of Contents and each document is tabbed so that ICPC can easily review your Home Study and Exhibits. We will also provide an electronic copy of both the Home Study Narrative and Exhibits.
Tip: Home Study Agencies and/or Social Workers might charge cheaper fees for the Home Study. These Agencies and Social Workers are usually not up to date on the latest ICPC and Home Study Regulations. And do not provide you with everything you need for ICPC. The result is you end up spending more money because the ICPC process will take longer and you are having to pay for lodging in your Child’s Birth State which costs more money in the long run. Do yourself a favor chose a Home Study Provider who will do everything right from the beginning! It is money well spent.