A home study is the process that will legally approve you to be able to adopt and is required for every adoption.
It’s the process that will legally approve you to be able to adopt. The home study is a basic overview of your life—including criminal background checks, your finances, and your personal relationships. It is used by the courts to assess if a stable environment exists for a family to receive a placement. In addition to gathering information about a family and evaluating their readiness, the adoption home study is also designed to educate and prepare hopeful adopting parents.
While part of the home study IS coming to your house, I promise, you do NOT need to bake an apple pie to make the house smell good or dust every nook and cranny. I mean, if you need a good excuse to do so, by all means, but nobody is looking that closely. I can promise you that!
They just want to see that they would be allowing a child to come into a safe space and that you are who you say you are. You will have to get background checks and physicals AND fill out a TON of paperwork. But it’s good. We need our states to make sure they are placing babies into safe families. Right?
Finding a home study agency is not as important as finding the agency or agencies you are going to work with for a placement (unless it’s the same agency). You want to make sure they are licensed to do home studies. Most adoption agencies will conduct home studies (not all), some social service entities will, and there are also stand-alone home study only organizations.
If you know someone in your state that has adopted, you can ask them who they used—usually an agency will work throughout the state. This is the one time you can ask others who they used and follow their advice. Otherwise, stay away from comparing your journey to others’ experiences, or going with an agency just because your friend did. You can also do a quick Google search for home study agencies in your area or ask around in social media groups.
I would choose 3 home study agencies to call and then ask these questions…
- Where are you located and can you work in my location?
- What are the total fees? Does that include post-placement visits?
- What is the process like?
- Do you provide adoption education?
These questions will ultimately help you vet an agency and get a better understanding of if they are the right fit for you. It goes without saying that not only will comparing the answers you received from your calls help you in choosing the right home study agency but also your gut. Who did you connect with the most? Sometimes you just have to pay attention to what feels good and go with that!
Here’s what one of our past clients had to say about the social worker from her home study agency that worked with closely throughout the adoption process:
“Cheryl explained the whole home study process in a way that we could fully understand and follow. Any and all anxiety went away with our first meeting at our home, provided quick responses, and gave us confidence that we did not have to worry about a thing in this part of the adoption process.”