The adoption home study is a process that prospective parents must go through in order to legally adopt a child. Its purpose is to gather information about prospective parents, ensure their commitment to adopt, and assess their suitability as parents. The home-study process may differ depending on the agency and type of adoption.

The adoption home study process

The home study generally requires the following steps. Some agencies may have additional requirements.

  1. Vital records. Both you and your spouse (or partner) provide certified copies of birth certificates, marriage licenses, and divorce records, if applicable. These can be obtained from the vital records office of the state in which these events occurred.

  2. Interviews and home visits. A social worker meets with you and your spouse over several sessions to learn about your individual lives and your relationship, and to assess your motivations and readiness to adopt. One or more of these sessions must be in your home so the social worker can determine you have a safe, comfortable place to raise a child.

  3. Health exam. Most agencies require a health statement or physical exam that shows you and your spouse are physically and mentally healthy.

  4. Autobiography. You and your spouse create a document that reveals your life-your background, education, employment history, hobbies, parenting philosophy, and so on. Your social worker uses this information in drafting the home study report. Most agencies have a list of questions that can guide your writing.

5.References. Generally, you'll need three or four people to serve as references. They should know you or your spouse well and, preferably, know how you are with children.

  1. Background checks. Most states require you and your spouse to prove you have no history of child abuse. Your agency should provide you with information on how to do this. Criminal background checks may also be required.

The adoption home study report

The home study report is the written report of the social worker's findings. It includes information about you and your spouse regarding the following topics:

  • Family background
  • Education and employment
  • Finances
  • Health
  • Home
  • Your day-to-day life

The state of your relationship

  • Why you want to adopt
  • Your parenting philosophy

The report usually requires documents that substantiate income information, such as pay stubs and debt statements. These, along with the documents mentioned in the last section, are added to the report.

The home study report concludes with the social worker's approval and recommendations.

Timing and cost of an adoption home study

A home study may take three to six months to complete. Charges vary depending on your agency and the type of adoption you pursue (domestic, international or special needs), but typically run between $1,000 and $3,000.

Additional resources:

Child Welfare Information Gateway: The Adoption Home Study Process

Adoption.com: Guide to US Infant Adoption

Related Legal Guides:

Adoption Process

Infant Adoption

International Adoption

Adopting from Foster Care

Adopting from Birth Parents