In today’s blog we’ll cover the topics typically explored in an adoption home study, as well as offer you a free downloadable adoption home study example.

Sample Home Study Requirements

Each state will have certain minimum requirements that need to be included in an adoption home study.

Your home study provider will meet those minimum requirements and may have policies in place that exceed those requirements. 

For example, the state you’re in may only require one letter of reference from a friend or family member, but your home study provider may require three letters of reference per their policy. 

This is important to note as we get started, because there is no one definitive home study example that will cover the requirements of each state and the policies of each home study provider.

Let’s dive in to what’s typically included in a home study. We’ll use requirements for a Texas adoption home study as an example.

Required InformationDescription of Discussion, Assessment, and Documentation Requirements
(1) The age of the adoptive applicants. All adoptive applicants must be at least 21 years or older. You must include documentation verifying their age.
(2) The marital status of the adoptive applicants including any previous marriages. If the adoptive applicants are married, you must review and document the marriage license or declaration of marriage record. You must document information about any previous marriages, divorces, or deaths of former spouses.
(3) A history of the adoptive applicants’ residence and their citizenship status. You must document the: 
(A) Length of time spent at each residence for the past 10 years (street address, city, state); and 
(B) Citizenship of the adoptive applicants.
(4) The financial status of the adoptive applicants. Adoptive applicants must be able to meet the child’s basic material needs. You must include the family’s ability to support a child, employment history, income, expenses, and ability to manage money. You must verify income and medical insurance coverage plans for the child.
(5) The results of the criminal history and central registry background checks conducted on the adoptive applicants and any non-client person 14 years of age or older who regularly or frequently stays or works in the home. Persons applying to adopt children through a child-placing agency, and any non-client person 14 years of age or older who will regularly or frequently be staying or be present at the home while children are being provided care, must obtain a criminal history and central registry background check. The results of those checks must be documented in the adoptive home record and the home study.
(6) Health status of the adoptive applicants. Document information about the physical, mental, and emotional status (including substance abuse history) of all persons living in the home in relation to the family’s ability to adopt a child and to assume parenting responsibilities. You must observe these persons for any indication of problems and follow up, where indicated, with a professional evaluation. Document the information obtained through your observations or through a physician’s statement. Consideration must be given to the health and age of the adoptive applicants. There must be a plan in place to ensure the child will be raised in a stable and consistent environment to adulthood.
(7) Any disabilities of the adoptive applicants. A person must not be prohibited from adopting a child solely based on a disability. You must evaluate individuals who are disabled in relation to their adjustment to the disability and any limits the disability imposes on the adoptive applicants’ ability to care for a child. This evaluation must be documented in the home study.
(8) The adoptive applicants’ motivation for adoption. Discuss and assess the adoptive applicants’ motivation for adoption. You must assess the applicants’ motivation and its effect on their ability to accept and parent an adopted child.
(9) The fertility of the adoptive applicants Discuss and assess information about the couple’s fertility. The applicants’ fertility is important only in relation to unresolved feelings about their infertility and their ability to accept and parent a child not born to them.
(10) The quality of the adoptive applicants’ marital and family relationships. Describe the quality of marital and family relationships in relation to the family’s ability to adopt and parent a child. You must assess the stability of a couple’s relationship, the strengths and problems of the relationship, and how those issues will relate to an adopted child. You must assess the quality of the relationships between the prospective adoptive parents and their biological children, living in or out of the home, strengths and problems of those relationships, and how those issues will relate to an adopted child.
(11) The adoptive applicants’ feelings about their childhood and parents. Discuss and assess adoptive applicants’ feelings about their childhoods and parents, including any history of abuse or neglect and their resolution of the experiences.
(12) The adoptive applicants’ attitude about an adopted child’s religion. Evaluate adoptive applicants on: 
(A) Their willingness to respect and encourage a child’s religious affiliation, if any; 
(B) Their willingness to provide a child opportunity for religious and spiritual development, if desired; and 
(C) The health protection they plan to give a child if their religious beliefs prohibit certain medical treatment.
(13) The adoptive applicants’ values, feelings, and practices in regard to child care and discipline. Discuss and assess the applicants’ knowledge of child development and their child-care experience. Discuss and assess the ways the applicants were disciplined as children and their reactions to the discipline they received. Discuss and assess the prospective adoptive parents’ discipline styles, techniques, and their ability to recognize and respect differences in children and use discipline methods that suit the individual child. If their current discipline methods are different than those that you approve, discuss and assess how they would change their child care practices to conform with your approved methods.
(14) The adoptive applicants’ sensitivity to and feelings about children who may have been subjected to abuse and neglect if the agency may place such children with the adoptive parents. Discuss and assess the adoptive applicants’ understanding of the dynamics of child abuse and neglect. Discuss and assess their understanding of how these issues and experiences affect them, their families, and the children they may adopt. Assess the adoptive family applicants’ ability to help children who have been abused or neglected. If the adoptive applicants experienced abuse or neglect as a child, assess the handling of those experiences and assess the impact of those experiences on the applicant’s ability to help children deal with their own experiences. Evaluate the availability of family and community resources to meet the needs of the children adopted by the family.
(15) The adoptive applicants’ sensitivity to, and feelings for children’s experiences of separation from, and the loss of their biological families. Discuss and assess the adoptive applicants’ understanding of the dynamics of separation and loss and the effects of these experiences on children. Discuss and assess their personal experiences with separation and loss and their processing of those experiences. Assess the applicants’ acceptance of the process of grief and loss for children and assess their ability to help children through the grieving process.
(16) The adoptive applicants’ sensitivity to, and feelings about, a child’s biological family. Discuss the adoptive applicants’ feelings about the child’s parents, including those parents who abused or neglected the child. Assess their sensitivity and reactions to the birth parents. Discuss and assess their sensitivity to and acceptance of a child’s feelings about his parents and assess their ability to help the child deal with those feelings. Discuss and assess the applicants’ sensitivity to and acceptance of the child’s relationships with his siblings. Discuss and assess their reactions to the possibility of contacts between the child and his biological family in the future.
(17) The attitude of other family and household members regarding adoption. Discuss and assess the attitudes of other family and household members toward the plan of adoption. Discuss and assess their involvement in the care of children, their attitudes toward the children, and their acceptance of the adoption plan.
(18) The attitude of the adoptive applicants’ extended family regarding adoption. Discuss the extended family’s attitude toward adoption and the involvement the family will have with the adopted children. Discuss and assess their involvement in the care of the children, their attitudes toward adoption, and adopted children.
(19) Support systems available to adoptive applicants and adopted children. Discuss and assess the support systems available to the adoptive family and the support they may receive from these resources.
(20) The language(s) spoken by the adoptive applicants. Document the language(s) spoken by each adoptive applicant.
(21) The adoptive applicants’ expectations of and plans for adoptive children. Discuss and assess the prospective adoptive parent’s expectations of the child and the flexibility of their expectations in relation to the child’s actual needs and abilities. Assess their capacities to recognize and emphasize the strengths and achievements of the child and their capacities to adjust their expectations according to the abilities of the child.
(22) Adoptive applicants’ ability to work with specific kinds of behaviors and backgrounds. Discuss and assess the adoptive applicants’ ability to work with and/or willingness to accept specific behaviors, backgrounds, special needs and/or disabilities and other characteristics of children.
(23) Background information from other child-placing agencies. Request and assess the following background information (if provided) from any child-placing agency that previously conducted a foster screening, adoptive home screening, post placement adoptive report, or home study: 
(A) The screening, report, home study, and related documentation; 
(B) Documentation of supervisory visits and evaluations; 
(C) Regarding a foster home, any record of deficiencies and their resolutions; and 
(D) Regarding a foster home, the most current fire and health inspections.

**The above information is a direct copy and paste from the Texas Minimum Standards for Child Placing Agencies.

Conclusion

The exact contents of an adoption home study will vary by state and home study provider. However, most home studies will cover very similar topics. 

We’ve covered the topics required in a Texas home study, and even if you don’t live in Texas, these should give you a good idea of what you can expect to see addressed in your home study. 

If you’d like to download an adoption home study example, click here