For any person who is pursuing adoption, you will be required to complete a Home Study conducted by a licensed professional in your state of residence. A home study is a written document that summarizes your life, history and preparedness to adopt. This document is what officially approves you to adopt. For more information about what a home study is, visit our blog here.
The process of a home study is time consuming for a social worker as there are multiple interviews, a home inspection and countless hours of composing to create the final document. For families, the process involves a whole lot of document collection and conversation about who you are and your wishes and goals for adoption.
The goal with documentation is to verify some important features of your identity and your family. These are the documents you may be asked to provide. Some items on this list are fairly standard from state to state, agency to agency, and some are Absolute Love specific. Many agencies have specific forms or further instructions for you, and some -like us- use electronic portals to make the process of uploading all of this easier for you.
Home Study Checklist
☐ Demographics: Basic application information includes your full name, address, citizenship and marital status, job title and place of employment and so on. For Absolute Love, this all goes in our data system and opens a file with the agency.
☐ Signed Civil Rights Compliance form and Signed Disclosure Statement: These are agency forms acknowledging our policy for reporting any offenses by the agency that fit criteria for discrimination, and acknowledging that you will disclose any information pertinent to the home study.
☐ Copy of government issued photo ID
☐ Birth, Marriage, Divorce or Death Certificates
☐ Social Security Card
☐ Clearances: You are required to get Criminal, FBI and Child Abuse clearances for each adult in the home over 18. Children ages 14 and over need to submit for Child Abuse Clearances. You must obtain clearances for any state lived in during the previous 5 years.
If you are needing out of state clearances, here is a cheat sheet for how to.
More information for Pennsylvania clearances can be found here.
☐ Reference letters (3 from non-relatives, 1 can be from someone related to you)
☐ Employment verification letters: These go to your boss or HR and get returned directly to the agency.
☐ Financial Affidavit: This is a worksheet you do so gather your family income, expenses and savings numbers. It auto-calculates!
☐ Most recent pay stub
☐ Most recent bank statements
☐ Medical Exam for each family member: There are forms to give your Doctor for this and every household member must complete one, even children. Per state laws, these forms need updated annually.
☐ Declaration Page of Insurance Policies: Auto, Life, Health, Home
☐ Vaccination Records for pets living in the home (specifically Rabies Vaccination)
☐ Pet Safety Plan: We ask you to explore how you’ll know if a pet is needing support around adjusting to the transition of a child into your home, and what your plan is should the pet be incapable of doing so or be exhibiting dangerous behaviors.
☐ Military discharge (if applicable)
☐ Certificate of completion of Infant CPR/First Aid (within 2 years): We direct clients here.
☐ Autobiographies: These is a list of specific questions to prompt you to think deeply about who you are, how you were parented and your own thoughts about parenting. Much of this narrative is included in your home study report. It is also the basis of exploration during home study interviews. Please take time to reflect on yourself and your life in a meaningful way as so much of what you’ve experienced in childhood you will recreate as parents.
☐ Adoption Preferences Worksheet: This worksheet helps you identify what type of social and medical history you are educated on and understand the potential impact on a fetus and developing child. We use this tool as a place for you to start your learning about these potential exposures or conditions and you should continue to develop your understanding and reassess your openness as you go.
☐ Openness Worksheet: How open are you to birth families? How open is your spirit around adoption? This is an essential area of exploration and one that takes time, deep thought and a lot of conversation to develop. Assess where you are now by watching this video from Amara and Angela Tucker.
☐ Discipline Policy: You must not spank children, the end. If you are unskilled in child discipline, start reading and learning about how to establish and maintain expectations with regards to behavior, positive discipline and techniques to build on as your child grows.
☐ Guardianship Form: You are expected to identify a person/couple who has agreed to step in to accept care of your child should you be unable to do so.
☐ Certificate of completion of 20 hours of adoption education: These requirements are sometimes determined by state laws, however, it is disturbing how few states actually have regulations on this. Our agency requires a minimum of 20 hours and believe that a family with a healthy commitment to adoption should anticipate lifelong learning about adoption. These 20 hours are really just scratching the surface and not comprehensive in the least bit. Adoption should become your cause, the thing you set your news alert on your phone to, and the topic you study indefinitely!
☐ Signed Full Service Contract: This is the contract outlining the expectations of the service relationship. Review carefully.
☐ Signed Home Study Contract: Agency and family agree that Agency will be committed to Post Placement supervision for your family, and that you are aware of the costs associated and expectations for number of visits. These numbers vary based on state requirements.
After you gather and submit all the aforementioned documentation, the agency staff assigned to you will begin your interviews. Our agency does 3 and a home visit.
While the documentation and checking off this task from your process is important, and wanting to get it done quickly is appreciated, this is a critical period of time for you to assess yourself and your ability to parent via adoption.
During this process you are learning what adoption is, how it is different than biological parenting, the core issues that arise within adoption relationships, history of adoption, ethical issues, adoptee perspectives and so much more. As such, Absolute Love encourages you to do this checklist, but slow it down. Allow yourself to be in this stage and absorb everything. Ask questions, build networks of adoption community supports, think deeply bout your abilities and deficits, and make steps to grow in adoption competency.