One of the most intimidating parts of the adoption process has to be the home study. It was only a little less intimidating when with our fourth adoption. Each time there was the lengthy process of gathering materials even before the actual home visit.
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What is a home study?
If you want to adopt or provide foster care for a child, you will need a home study. A home study is an assessment of prospective adoptive or foster parents, and the potential home, to see if they are suitable for adopting and caring for a child. This assessment is completed through a series of interviews in the prospective home and review of documents about the prospective family. Though it is quite simple and straight forward, the home study is often the most grueling part of the approval process.
Before beginning the home study process, you should first make sure that you are in agreement with the other adults and the children in your home about becoming an approved foster home. You can find a link to a free pre home study worksheet here.
If you pursue the avenue of foster care, there will also be monthly home safety checks completed by your case worker as long as a foster child is placed in your home.
Being prepared for the home study can save time and frustration. Gathering documentation is the simplest part of the assessment, but often the most time consuming. You can simplify the process by gathering your documentation early. Here are some things to consider when gathering you documents:
- Birth certificates and social security cards will be needed for each person residing in the home.
- Tax records from previous years may be required to document consistent income.
- Pay stubs from current jobs may be required.
- Pet vaccination records should be up to date.
- Each person in the household will need a physical examination.
- You will need to prepare a family autobiography.
- You will need reference letters from people who have known you for several years.
The earlier you begin making appointments and phone calls to gather this documentation, the easier your home study process will be.
Organizing Home Study Documents
I suggest using an accordion file with tabs to begin collecting your documents. Then transfer them by tabbed section into a binder that can be easily presented to your case worker. It is wise to create two binders, one for yourself and one for the case worker, so you will be able to retain copies of your documents that are easily accessible. This also helps if you ever need to repeat the home study process or need an annual update for foster care.
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This list is not comprehensive. Requirements may vary from state to state and agency to agency. This list contains much of the basic documentation required and should provide a good start to the process.
If you are an adoptive or foster parent or if you are interested in becoming one, join our facebook community here where experienced families can help answer your questions and provide support for your journey.