Adoption is a big responsibility, and as such, there are a number of requirements and screenings prospective parents must satisfy in order to complete the process. One of the most important of these is the home study. As the name suggests, this procedure involves an official - usually a social worker or child welfare official - visiting your home to profile your lifestyle and home environment. Regardless of what kind of adoption you are initiating, this is a requirement, and you should know what to expect.
A home study is more than just a visit
According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, a home visit is only part of the entire home study process. Other aspects include gathering statements on applicants' health, income and insurance, conducting background checks and obtaining autobiographical statements. Though the elements will vary depending on the specifics of your adoption, you can expect more than just a quick visit when you begin the home study process.
There may be a fee involved
There are many different ways to adopt. You may be hoping to adopt a child from the United States, or you might be initiating an international adoption from a country abroad. In addition to these options, you can choose to complete the adoption through a private agreement, agency or public system. Regardless of which option you pursue, you will have to complete a home study, and you may be subject to a fee. The cost will vary, but in many cases, there is a charge for the service.
It is an ongoing process
Most people are primarily concerned with the home visit part of the home study - the part where a social worker actually comes to your home. Though this might usually last anywhere between one and four hours, the home study process as a whole can take up to eight months. Many social workers conduct the study over a period of a few months and complete a report within six months, though.
Be honest and upfront throughout the process
The best tip you can follow as you embark on this journey is to simply be honest and upfront throughout it. If you have any anxieties or concerns, it is best to address them with your social worker than it is to wait until they are an issue. This will help you stay sane and patient throughout the home study.
If you are applying to adopt a child, you should be aware of your legal rights. Consulting with an attorney is a good idea if you are seeking legal adoption advice.