Explore frequently asked questions about the adoption home study.
What is an adoption home study?
The adoption home study is ultimately a 10-20 page report recommending your family to adopt. To complete your home study report, there’s a process you’ll go through. That process includes turning in a variety of documentation about your family, individual and family interviews, and adoption-related education.
- How much does an adoption home study cost?
An adoption home study can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000, depending on the type of home study you need and the requirements of the state you live in.
In addition to the cost of the home study, there may be extra costs for the social worker’s travel to and from your home, background-check fees, costs associated with obtaining a medical report, etc. But these are usually modest.
- What are some of the qualifications to pass a home study?
- You are above the minimum legal age to adopt, as required by the state where you live.
- You have sufficient income to support an additional child.
- Your criminal and child abuse history is free of offenses that would reasonably rule out adoption.
- You are physically and mentally healthy.
- You offer a safe home environment.
- You have positive references from family, friends, and adult children.
- What are reasons to fail a home study?
Generally speaking, here are some reasons you may not pass a home study or receive an unfavorable home study:
1. You or other household members have been convicted of a crime that would jeopardize the safety and well-being of a child. These might include, but are not limited to: child abuse and neglect, violent crimes, human trafficking, and drug or alcohol-related offenses. It’s important to be honest with your home study provider about your criminal history. If you have concerns about a previous charge you on your record, speak with your home study provider.
2. Your home is found to be unsafe or does not have enough space to provide for the addition of a child.
3. You or another household member suffer from a physical, mental, or behavioral health condition that would interfere with suitable care for a child.
4. You have (or appear to have) provided false or missing information as part of the home study process.
5. Your income or financial stability is inadequate to support the addition of a child.
- How can I prepare for the home study?
First, select a home study provider you feel comfortable with. Next, start gathering and completing the paperwork required by your provider.
There is a lot of paperwork, so it is crucial to stay organized. Think about which documents may take the most time and tackle those first. For example, you might need to order copies of your birth certificates or make a medical appointment. Being organized and thoughtful as you move through the requirements can often make a difference in how long the home study process will take.
As you begin to wrap up your paperwork, start looking at how to prepare your home for the first in-home interview. Next, take a look at the home study questions you can expect during the interview.
Once you’ve done these things, you will be well prepared to conquer your home study head on!
- What else should I do to get ready for the home study visit?
You will want your home to be clean, safe, and presentable—like you would when you have a visitor in town. You’re home doesn’t need to be immaculate; there is no “white glove” test. We all live in our homes, and no one is perfect.
If you have a swimming pool or body of water, make sure you have addressed any of the child-safety issues your home study provider is concerned about.
If you store firearms in your home, be prepared to show that they are kept locked and inaccessible to children. You may need to lock the ammunition separate from the firearms.
With guidance from your home study provider, complete any other safety-specific requests they may have.
- Who needs a home study?
Anyone seeking to adopt a child needs a home study.
- What are the different types of adoption home studies?
Domestic Infant Adoption Home Study
International Adoption Home Study
Kinship Home Study
Stepparent Home Study
Second Parent Home Study
Foster Care Home Study
Foster-to-Adopt Home Study
- Is it possible to get a free adoption home study?
Typically, foster care or foster-to-adopt home studies are provided free of charge through the foster care provider. However, they often won’t release the home study to you if you decide to adopt from another organization.
Kinship home studies are occasionally provided free of charge if the state foster care system is involved in placing the child.
These exceptions aside, home studies are usually paid out of pocket by the prospective adoptive family.
- Do you have to complete adoption-related training for a home study?
Almost every state requires some form of adoption training and education. The aim is to better equip you to be adoptive parents, and to help you understand the various issues facing everyone involved in the adoption process—where “everyone” includes not only you, but also the birth parents and the adopted child (or children). First aid and CPR certification may be required as part of your training.
- How long does the home study take?
The time to complete a home study depends on a variety of factors.
Some of these are due to state requirements. For example, some states have lengthy in-person training requirements that must be completed as part of the home study process.
A family living in a state where thirty hours of in-person training is required will take significantly longer to receive a completed home study than a family living in a state where in-person training is not required.
Another factor to consider is that each home study provider has its own process and current workload. Some providers are more efficient and expeditious than others. This is something to keep in mind when choosing your home study provider.
Generally speaking, the home study process typically takes anywhere from one to six months from start to finish.
- Are there an exceptions for step-parent or relative adoption home studies?
With a step-parent or relative adoption, the child is often already in the home before the home study takes place. If so, the child will be observed or interviewed during the home study, depending upon his or her age.
In step-parent adoptions—since one of the biological parents is part of the process—the home study provider may not require the same supporting documentation that other adoptive parents need to provide. Also, required safety preparation for the home environment may be less stringent.
- How long is a home study good for?
A home study will remain valid for different lengths of time, depending on the state.
In Texas, for example, a home study is good for one year. After a year, a “home study update” is required, making the home study valid for another year. In some states, the validity of a home study lasts for up to five years.
Speak with your home study provider about the situation in your own state.
It should be noted that, if you have any changes in family composition, move to a new home, have new health problems—or any other major life changes—you will need to update your home study with the new information, even if your home study is still valid. If you are unsure whether you may have had a major life change, speak with your home study provider to see if they think that updating is required.
- What if I plan to move before I get started on the home study?
It’s usually best to move first, then start your home study. If you plan to get started on your home study right away and your move is six months down the road, speak with the home study provider you plan to use about what they suggest.
- What if I plan to move to a new home in the same state while my home study is valid?
You will need a “home study addendum” that provides an update about your new home. The home study addendum typically involves a visit to your home, as well as updating any documentation related to your home. Keep in contact with your home study provider before and after the move to make sure they can provide you with the home study addendum as soon as possible.
- What if I have to move to another state after my home study is completed?
You will most likely need a completely new home study in the state you’re moving to, since the home study requirements vary so much by state. Before you move, check with a home study provider in your future state to inquire about the process.
- What is post-placement supervision?
Post-placement supervision begins after a child is placed in your home and before your adoption is finalized. In most states, you will be supervised by your home study provider.
During the post-placement process, the provider will complete home visits to ensure that you are adjusting well and that the child is thriving. After these visits, a written “post-placement report” is prepared.
For domestic adoptions, post-placement reports are usually sent to the placing agency and/or attorney, and sometimes to the state where the adoption is finalized. For international cases, these reports may also be submitted to the child’s birth country.
The number of visits and corresponding reports that you need will vary depending on the agency, state, or country of finalization for your adoption.
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- How much does an adoption home study cost?