Home Studies Aren’t (Completely) About Your Home

We are in the midst of our home study. Despite its name, it’s mostly about us not our home. It should probably be called a character study. While we have filled out most of the paperwork, we still have a few things to check off the list. But, let’s answer some few basic questions. 

What is a home study? A home study is the process prospective adoptive parents have to undergo to show to the state and future birth parents that they are fit to parent a child. After you complete the home study process, you receive a certificate acknowledging your approval. A completed home study will be summarized in a report by our social worker. It will show that we are fit to parent and share who we are, our hobbies, about our families, where we live, etc. It’s like a biography of us.

Why do adoptive parents need a home study? An approved home study is required to legally adopt. The state wants to ensure that the prospective adoptive parents are stable financially, emotionally, physically, and mentally for a child.

What happens first in a home study? After applying to an agency for a home study, you are assigned a social worker. He/She will help you through the home study and adoption process as well as be your “go to” person for questions or concerns.

What do you need to do to complete your home study? We have to complete background checks and physicals, submit financials and personal narratives, show our pets are vaccinated, prove our insurance, provide DMV records, take education classes, read books, and meet with our social worker at least 3 times. Each meeting is a little nerve-wracking as you have to talk about pretty personal information that you wouldn’t normally share with a complete stranger. With that said, our social worker, Alicia, makes us feel at ease. We laugh a lot, so that’s good.

Does the social worker have to visit your house? Yes. The social worker has to visit our home at least once for the home inspection. They have to make sure our house is clean and safe for children. For convenience, our social worker actually came to our house for 2 our meetings. Our last meeting will be in her office next month.

Do you have to baby proof your home or need a nursery setup? No and no. We only had to tell Alicia how we planned to baby proof and what room we planned to use as a nursery. Seems like this should be pretty standard but every state, agency, and social worker are going to be different. For example, some friends of ours had to have baby proofing items purchased but not installed. Again, it depends.

Then, what do you have to have for your home to be approved? Pretty universally, prospective adoptive parents have to have properly functioning smoke detectors, a fire extinguisher, a room for baby, a bathroom, and a way to cool and heat your home. We also had to have storage for baby clothes (or a plan to provide storage). An emergency plan had to be created, and while we have heard many adoptive parents describe drawing the fire escape routes on a diagram of their home, we didn’t have to complete one. Obviously, a plan is good to have, but a lot of the emergency plan is tailored to older foster children. Our newborn won’t be able to use a phone or practice a fire escape route. We keep imagining leaning over the crib and having to explain the emergency plan to a newborn. “Little one, in case there’s an emergency, we’ll come in and pick you up. Leave your pacifiers behind. Ok? Ok.”

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How long does the home study process take? We estimate our home study will be completed at the beginning of May. At that point, our home study will have taken about 3 months from the time we were assigned our social worker to the official home study approval. We’ve heard of social workers being able to finish in as little as 2 weeks. It just depends on the situation.

Where are we in the home study process? We have completed most of the tedious paperwork, but we still have two classes and our final meeting with Alicia next month. We also have two worksheets to complete and a book to read. We suspect our background checks will be the last thing in our home study to come through. We hope to be an officially “waiting family” in May.

Still have a question about the home study or home inspection process? Leave us a comment 🙂

BW Chris and Jess Heart Signature

7 thoughts on “Home Studies Aren’t (Completely) About Your Home

  1. So much good information here! It’s funny, we were so nervous heading into ours, but it really wasn’t a bit deal in the end.
    I also love the little differences between jurisdictions – we did not have to have an emergency escape plan ready (I’d say that’s pretty obvious), or proof of our dog’s vaccinations (not that it would have been a problem to get them if they wanted them).

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    • I had a long to do list, but we scrapped most of it and focused on the basics, like vacuuming 🙂 We completely cleaned and organized our basement, but since it wasn’t finished, she said she didn’t need to see it. Who knew? One thing we didn’t have to have that I know other agencies want: copies of our birth certificates. We got a copy for Chris just in case we needed it since it’s been lost along the way. Glad to have the home inspection and most of the paperwork behind us. That’s for sure. Do you two have to jump through extra hoops since you’re technically doing international adoption? ~Jess

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