When you are ready to adopt a child, you may work with a nationwide adoption facilitator who puts you in contact with the appropriate officials, or you may contact an agency directly. In either case, a home study is a necessary part of the process. A caseworker evaluates you to find out what kind of parent(s) you will be to a child and to be sure there is nothing in your history that would disqualify you.
A home study includes a visit to your actual residence, but that is only one part of the process. The entire home study can take three to six months, and here are some of the necessary elements.
You may have to provide information about your income and financial status, state of health, and autobiographical information about yourself. The caseworker will also perform a background check to see if you have any criminal record. Of particular concern, for obvious reasons, are offenses that involve doing harm to children. Your spouse or partner, if you have one, will have to provide similar information.
In addition to the documentation you must provide about yourself, you must also provide references for people who know you and can vouch for your character. You need only provide the names and contact information for these people, and the caseworker will get in touch with them. Good choices for references include people who are reasonably close to you but not related, as there may be specific rules against this.
The caseworker will interview you and your spouse or partner (if applicable) on multiple occasions. This is to give the caseworker an idea of the type of person/people you are and what type of family environment you are likely to provide to a child. Most of these interviews will take place in the caseworker’s office and may involve other members of your family, possibly including any children that you already have or other adults who share your household. If you are adopting a child with a spouse or partner, you may have all of your interviews together or you may have some interviews one-on-one with the caseworker.
4. Home Visit
At least one of the interviews will take place in your home. This allows the caseworker to inspect the premises and see if the environment is safe for a child. The state sets licensing standards for adoption, and your home must meet those standards for you to be approved. Your home does not have to be immaculately clean, but it should be free of any hazards, such as unprotected pools or irresponsibly stored firearms.