The process of adopting a child can be fraught with many different emotions. There's joy and excitement at the prospect of starting or expanding your family. But there can also be anxiety, pain, and frustration over what can sometimes be a long and confusing ordeal. One of the most basic requirements in the process is the home study. But exactly what does an adoption home study consist of?
According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, a home study varies based on the agency or state or you're working with, or even with the country that you're hoping to adopt from. (You can find specific state by state requirements at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website.) That being said, there are some elements that will generally stay the same. According to Rainbow Kids, one of the first things you can expect in the home study is paperwork — tons and tons of paperwork. That can entail everything from financial statements to personal essays and background checks. Your social worker will probably want to know why you want to adopt, and what sort of previous experiences you've had with kids.
You can also expect all members of your household to be interviewed at length, including any other children you may have. This can be a nerve-wracking thought for some people, but Adoption.com noted that it's more about finding the right fit for the child and his or her potential future family. So don't worry so much about right or wrong answers— just focus on being yourself.
A home visit will also likely be conducted to make sure that you can give an adopted child a safe environment. Families 4 Children compiled a checklist of things that are often inspected in a potential foster or adoptive home. Your social worker will want to be sure that you have a clean and sanitary home, working smoke detectors, no obvious safety hazards, etc.
According to the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, the home study process culminates in a written report. That report is instrumental in making sure that the child in question is placed in a family where he or she will thrive. With so much information being compiled, the report doesn't come together overnight— according to Adopt US Kids, it'll typically take between three and six months for the entire process to be completed.
Though the process can be stressful, you should try not to panic about it. According to Adoptive Families, about 90 percent of potential parents who undergo a home study will be approved to adopt. So breathe — you got this.