The thought of someone coming into your home and “snooping” around may sound a little intimidating; like someone’s going to go around with a white glove looking for dust on the tops of picture frames. However, a skilled social worker should be able to conduct the home study in such a manner as to reflect the atmosphere of a friendly visit, rather than a bright-light torture session.
An adoption home study is sometimes referred to as a pre-placement investigation. The completion of a home study is a necessary piece of every adoption puzzle (when the parents and child are unrelated). The purpose of the home study is to determine if the prospective adoptive parents and their home are suitable places to raise the child. The home study is written by a licensed social worker (either with DHR, a licensed agency, or private social worker) and includes a criminal background investigation and any other circumstances which may be relevant to the placement of the child in the adoptive parents’ home. Home studies have a shelf-life of 24 months and remain “valid” during that time.
The bare-bones factors that must be addressed in the home study may be similar to the requirements of the post-placement report:
1) the suitability of each prospective adoptive parent and their home for the particular adoptee;
2) why the natural parents no longer wanted to be parents;
3) whether the natural parents abandoned the adoptee (or other reasons that make the natural parents unfit to have custody of the adoptee);
4) any court related orders, judgments, or decrees affecting the adoptee or any other children of the prospective adoptive parents; and
5) the medical histories of the adoptee and biological parents (which must be provided to the adoptive parents before the final decree will be issued).
In order to appropriately prepare the post-placement report, the social worker must conduct a home visit where he or she observes the adoptee and interviews the adoptive parents. This home visit should generally take place within 45 days of the child being placed in the adoptive parents’ home.
At the end of the day, the social worker is vouching for you to the court that you will be a good parent for this child. This requires the social worker to delve into areas of your life that you might not discuss with anyone else. In essence, the social worker’s job is to know you intimately and give the court his or her candid opinion.
For advice on connecting with a trustworthy social worker, contact The Adoption Law Firm.
For advice on researching adoption agencies, visit our blog, How to Choose an Adoption Agency.
For recommendations on how to write a letter of reference for a home study, see the blog, How to Write a Letter of Reference for an Adoption Home Study.