If you and your partner have looked into adoption, chances are you have seen the phrase “home study” come up. So what is a home study? Is it really that important? The answer to the first question will be answered over the course of this blog. The answer to the second question is yes! When it comes to adoption home studies, you can choose the traditional route or Abiding Love’s home study process. Let’s understand what that means and why you should abandon the traditional route.

What is a Home Study?

A home study is the first and one of the biggest steps in the adoption process. The purpose of a home study is to evaluate whether or not the prospective family can care for and sustain a child that is being placed for adoption, as well as to inform the adoptive parents about the adoption process.

Prospective parents are asked various questions by a social worker. They will ask you about your upbringing, marital history, medical history, and the current status of income and employment; all of this will be followed by a background check. It’s important to remember that this is all done not to make it difficult to become a parent or to restrict who can adopt, but to simply make sure that your home is the correct fit for the child.

During the home study, there will be at least one visit to your home. The amount of visitations varies from state to state and also depends on the policies of the agency selected.

Does a Home Study Cost Anything?

The costs vary depending on the agencies used and the state in which the adoption is being carried out. This can be the toughest part for prospective parents. The first payment will be the application fee, which can range from $250-$500. Depending on the agencies used, you may only have to pay a portion of the home study costs or all of it upfront, usually to the sum of $1,000 to $3,000

Can Anyone Apply

Anyone can apply for a home study and begin the adoptive process, but a background check to look for criminal history or any child abuse history will be required. Depending on where you live a federal, state and local background check will be done. The only requirement for the home study application is that you pass these evaluations.

Do Other Family Members Have To Be Involved In The Home Study?

Yes, if you have children from marriage, birth, or adoption, then they will be interviewed as well. The social worker will oftentimes want to know about their hobbies, how well they are doing in school and how they feel about having a new sister or brother. The social worker will also be interested in who their friends are and how their actions are rewarded or disciplined. This is all done so social workers can learn how the adopted child will be welcomed by the entire family.

How Long Does a Home Study Take?

In a traditional home study can take a long time. Again, this varies state to state, but the home study process done in the traditional manner can take anywhere from three to six months to complete. The process can be sped up a little, depending on how quickly you can get all the appropriate paperwork and appointments done ahead of time.

What All Will Be in the Home Study Report?

Home Visit

The home visit is to simply inspect the environment in which you wish to raise a child. They will be looking for any hazards that would endanger the child, such as easy to obtain cleaning chemicals, faulty fire alarms, any firearms that aren’t secure, pools without a cover, etc. This is a good time to finish any child-proofing projects you may have or to add child locks to your drawers and anywhere you keep chemicals. In some states, an inspection may be done by both your fire department and your state health department.

Your Neighborhood

Where you live may also play a role in your evaluation, but it’s not about living in a gated community or anything like that. They will simply be looking at your home’s proximity to nearby resources, such as how close you are to hospitals, fire departments, police departments, etc.

Health Report

Depending on where you live and the agencies used during the home study, you and your partner may need to get a physical exam done with your doctor. Your social worker will ask about any current health issues, such as diabetes, heart issues or any other health conditions you may have and what you are doing to handle them. They don’t mind if you have a history of heart disease or diabetes; they just want to make sure you are on top of it. They will also want to know about any health conditions that run in your family.

If you have had to seek any mental health support in the past, then your social worker will likely want to know about such a visit. This is nothing to be ashamed of; seeking help will be a sign of strength in the eyes of your social worker. They simply want to have a complete and accurate profile of you and your partner’s health.

Family Background

Your social worker will want to know about you and your partner’s background. They may ask questions such as:

  • Where did you grow up?
  • What was your family like?
  • How is your relationship with your parents and siblings?
  • How did your parents discipline?
  • What tragedies did your family face (if any) and what did you and your family learn from said tragedies?

Your Support System

The social worker assigned to you will likely want to know what kind of support you and your partner have. They may ask if you have family or coworkers nearby that you are close to. Likewise, they may ask if there is a church that you are involved in or maybe a club or sports group you are affiliated with that can help during times of need or tragedy.

Education & Employment

To best understand you, your social worker will want to know about your level of education. They will ask if you completed high school or a trade school, as well if you pursued a college degree. You may be asked about future plans for furthering your education as well.

Your social worker will also want to know what you and or your partner do for a living. What does your work schedule look like? What does your income look like? Your social worker will also be curious about what your future career goals look like. Does your job make you happy or are you looking for a change? Anything to help paint the most accurate picture of you and your partner.

Your Religious Views and Background

Be prepared to talk about your faith as well. The social worker will want to know what your religious upbringing looked like, if there was any. What was your faith growing up, did you go to church, was religion something that was taken seriously or something to simply honor? They will also ask what your plans are for your future family’s religious upbringing or if you plan to have a religious upbringing at all.

The Traditional Adoption Process

Within the traditional adoption process, one of the biggest flaws is that you lack ownership of the home study. If during the process you decide you want to be represented by another agency, your originally chosen agency can keep the documents of the home study for themselves, meaning you will have to start all over.

Having to start all over means you can be out of a lot of money! Some agencies will make you pay a portion of the adoption process fee, usually $5,000 – $15,000 on top of the application fee mentioned previously. Other agencies will require you to pay the full amount of the adoption process fee, meaning you may be out $15,000 $50,000.

In other cases, a situation may arise (and commonly does) where the expectant parent or parents’ agency will require you to use their agency or attorney, which means you have to come up with more money. In most situations, families are unable to afford this because they have already given their entire life savings to their own agency. To make matters worse, many agencies have a condition in which if you use the services of another agency as well, they can terminate services with you and keep all of the money you have invested up until that point.

Then there is the NEVER ENDING wait. Many agencies will take on client after client so that they can afford their overhead. This means that you end up competing with other prospective parents, which is never the right way. If the company has a first come first serve policy then it’s even worse. You may feel like you have to move forward with a situation that isn’t ideal for your family so that you don’t lose your place and wait even longer.

For more information and a step by step look at what the traditional adoption process looks like, you can find the process outlined here.

Abiding Love’s Adoption Process

Abiding Love’s process is a streamlined process that really changes the game. We simplify the whole process and give you ownership of the home study to do with as you please. We also recommend that you work with an adoption consultant, rather than an adoption facilitator.

Our home study process is broken down into two steps.

Step One

Our process begins with the first home study visit. This is performed after paying the first half of the application fee; the second half of the application fee is due at the end of our third and final home study visit. After the home study visits are completed, you will then receive your home study paperwork. This is made of four home study narratives, which are documents that will contain everything gathered during this process, such as home visit interviews and notes about your family and home. It will also show that all required doctor appointments have been completed, background checks have been passed, and any other important information on aspects of the home study process. These are the actual narratives, not just copies for you to take, so each document will have your actual handwritten signature.

You will also receive everything needed for your State Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children agreement (also known as an ICPC). An ICPC is an agreement among all 50 states of America, the Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia, that outlines how a child can be adopted out of one state into the other.

Step Two

Step two is for the birth mother. Once she agrees that she wants to move forward with the adoption process, she will be presented with profile books that you and partner and other prospective families have created. The expectant mother will then choose who she would like to adopt the child.

Why Abiding Love Created a New Process

Creating a family shouldn’t be a situation where you feel pressured in any way. That’s why Abiding Love has created their own approach to the adoption process. Getting your home study shouldn’t be as complicated as the traditional model makes it out to be. You shouldn’t have to invest $50,000 upfront just to realize your dream of a family. Our passion and mission is to help expectant mothers find the right home for their children and to revolutionize and simplify the way the adoption process is done for expectant parents.

The First Step To Adding To Your Family

If you’re in the process of researching adoption and are wanting to learn more, we would love to meet with you. We can’t simplify the adoption process into a blink of an eye, but our mission is to revolutionize the adoption journey and remove as much of the hassle as possible. Adopting a child means adding to your family and providing a child with a family to love them.

Adoption is such an amazing gift and we don’t want anyone to go through unnecessary risk and hardships to experience its wonders. If you want to explore whether or not adoption is right for you, contact Abiding Love Adoptions. We are a certified adoption agency that’s licensed to handle adoptions in Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. Call or text us today at 1 (800) 277-0748 or send us a message online; we’d love to meet with you.