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Friday, November 1, 2019

What is the Home Study Requirement in an Adoption Proceeding?

Most adoptions require a home study, the goal of which is to make sure the prospective adoptive parents are ready to take on the responsibilities of caring for a child. The best way to prepare for a home study is to seek the advice and guidance of a family law attorney. In the meantime, this article is a brief discussion of how a home study is conducted.

Home Study 101

All types of adoptions require a home study, however, one is not required for stepparent adoption in some jurisdictions. The study is similar to a background check for parents who want to adopt.  Usually a social worker will interview the prospective parents to ensure they are emotionally and financially prepared for the adoption process.

The social worker will also review a variety of records, including:

  • Birth and marriage certificates
  • Life and health insurance information
  • Financial records (e.g. tax returns)
  • Legal records (e.g. divorce and child custody decrees)
  • Letters of recommendation for the adoption

Many newly adopted children come from foreign countries, which may present challenges for parents of a different culture. In other cases, a child may come from an abusive or neglectful home life. These circumstances can be difficult to manage, and the social worker needs to ensure the new parents are able to do so.

You will likely be asked about your background and reasons for wanting to adopt. If you already have a child or children, the social worker will ask how you plan on integrating the adopted child into your family. Other questions may concern how family disputes are resolved or what sort of domestic routines you follow. Anything that is relevant to the well-being of the adoptive child could be raised during the home study.

Most studies require more than one visit. Once it is completed, the social worker will file a written report of his or her findings with the court. If you disagree with the findings, you can contest the home study, but you must have evidence to support your claims. 

The home study may only be valid for a certain amount of time, after which you will need to complete another one. You may also need to update the home study if you move or experience another major life change. Finally, for most adoptions you will need to complete a post-placement assessment, which is designed to make sure the child is adjusting well after the adoption is complete.

The Takeaway

Adoption is a rewarding way to give a child a new start.  Work with your attorney to prepare for the home study as well for guidance on other steps in the adoption process.


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