This guide will help prospective adoptive parents prepare for the adoption home study process and explain the issues that will be covered during the home study
Start discussing parenting issues with each other, such as discipline, how you were each raised, child care plans, religion, educational goals, role of extended family members and attitudes about adoption. Read general books about adoption to educate yourself about the different types of adoption.
Getting more specific about the type of child you seek to adopt
The home study will approve you for a child of a specific age or age range. The home study will also specify the race of the child you seek to adopt, what medical issues you are willing to accept, what legal issues you are willing to accept, and the level of openness you want or are comfortable with in your adoption process. Read articles and books and discuss these issues thoroughly before you begin working with the home study provider. Although the home study will continue to educate you and explore these issues, it is better to have time to discuss them privately before meeting with a social worker
Begin collecting documents
You generally will need reference letters from family members, friends and business acquaintances. Start speaking with those individuals you will will eventually ask to prepare the references. You will need birth certificates, marriage certificate, divorce decrees, medical reports for you and any others in the home (including children and other adults), autobiographical summaries, pet vaccine records, criminal background checks, and other documents. You can begin collecting some of these documents even before you have the first home study appointment. Others, you will need to wait to obtain the format required by the home study provider. Make sure you have had physical examinations recently because your physicians will eventually need to complete medical reports.
The home visit
The home study will generally include at least one home visit. You do not need to have a nursery completed and the house does not need to be child-proofed to be approved as prospective adoptive parents. However, there must be sufficient room in the home for the addition of a child and you must demonstrate an awareness of child safety. If you have a pool, you will need to have it fenced in with a locked gate. If you own guns, you will need to have them locked away in a safe or gun cabinet. The home study provider will not approve a family if the home is unsafe or unsanitary or does not have enough room for the addition of a child
Meeting with the caseworker
The caseworker assigned to complete your home study will meet with you, both in your home and at the caseworker's office,. Many states require several visits and at least one of them must include all family members. The caseworker will review the documents you provide. In addition, the caseworker will discuss your parenting beliefs, your attitudes about adoption and birth parents, your comfort with ongoing communication with birth parents, and the type of child you seek to adopt.
Focus on your goal of becoming adoptive parents
The home study serves two purposes. First, the home study screens you as prospective adoptive parents to ensure that you can provide a safe and secure home for a child. This screening helps to reassure birth parents that their children will be loved and protected. Second, the home study is educational for you because you will explore many issues that you would have discussed if you were expecting to deliver a baby. I call this period "adoptive nesting" and you should take full advantage of the time you have during the home study process and while waiting for a child to be identified for you to get ready to be parents.
Additional resources provided by the author
Adoptive Parent Magazine
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