Call anytime, an adoption professional is here to help.
4
Jan

How to Choose a Home Study Professional

Home studies are a pretty big deal in the adoption process. A home study is an assessment of a prospective adoptive family’s life, history and home, and, if all goes well, it ends with a recommendation that the family be able to adopt.

It’s natural, then, that the process can seem scary. It’s tough to have your lives under a microscope, but everyone has to go through it before adopting — even celebrities! To make the process as educational and stress-free as possible, it’s important to choose the right professional to complete your home study.

For Kansas, Missouri, Arizona, Arkansas and Florida residents, American Adoptions can provide home study services in a span of four to six weeks. (These are the states in which we are licensed.) If you don’t reside in one of these states, though, there are important questions to ask any home study professional before you begin the process.

Who can perform a home study?

A home study must be performed by a social worker licensed in your state. Some states, as well as other countries, require that social worker to be from a licensed adoption agency. To avoid any issues with the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC), we recommend working with a licensed adoption home study professional. You don’t want to travel to another state to meet your child only to realize your home study has been denied.

How much does a home study cost?

The ultimate price tag varies based on each adoptive family’s individual situation. It’s common for international home studies to cost more, because the requirements of the other country have to be met as well. Before selecting a professional to complete your home study, be sure to ask about prices — not only for the present time, but for post-placements and other updates after your child has joined your family.

Remember, cost is not the only factor. You need a timely, experienced professional to help you ready your family for its newest member.

How long will the home study take?

Some professionals move faster than others. You should ask any agency you’re considering this question, as well as a few follow-ups:

  • Does the home study time frame start the day you apply or the day your interview takes place? Some estimated time frames can be very skewed if the clock doesn’t start until the day your interviews begin. You want to make sure the agency you choose can get the ball rolling relatively quickly.
  • How soon can the agency send a professional to begin the interview process?
  • How long does it generally take for background checks to be returned? Is that factored into the agency’s time frame estimate?
  • How quickly will the professional actually write your home study after the interviews and background checks? Ask for references.

Other factors to consider

It’s helpful to think beyond the day your child joins your family when choosing a home study professional. He or she will also be responsible for post-placement supervision visits, which will entail coming to your home to assess how everyone is adjusting with the newest family member. The number of these visits depends on the state (or by country in an international adoption).

You may need an updated home study down the line if you move, switch careers or add new family members to your home. Otherwise, the original is good for 12 months before it has to be updated.

If you’re pursuing an international adoption, be sure the home study professional you choose is well-versed in the different demands associated with the country or countries you are considering. It’s important that your professional know what those countries are looking for in adoptive families.

Remember that it’s normal to be anxious about your home study. It is, after all, a very big step on the way to growing your family — and the right home study professional will help to guide you along the way.

13
Sep

Florida Home Study Tele-Seminar in September

Adoption Home Study SeminarResidents of Florida: we can help you start the adoption process with an adoption home study!

A home study is a basic overview of your life and home environment. It includes a review of you, your spouse, and anyone else living in your home and highlights things like your relationships and interactions with children, your home and neighborhood, your own upbringing and childhood and your personal finances. A home study also verifies requisite documents and background checks needed for an approved home study. Every adoption requires an approved adoption home study as they help the court system, judges and our agency determine if a family can provide a stable environment for an adopted child.

The home study process can be intimidating at first for some families, but American Adoptions helps make the process easy and stress-free. Our Home Study Tele-Seminar will cover the process to obtain an approved home study in the state where you reside. We will also answer FAQs from adoptive families including the overall cost for a home study, the time frame to expect for completion, how to get started, and what each state specifically requires of adoptive families regarding supporting documents and home visits.

Date: Wednesday, September 25th, 2013
Time: 7:00 P.M. EST
Where: Tele-Seminar for Florida Residents
Notes: This conference call is for Florida families only. There is no cost to attend this seminar.

Pre-registration is required. To pre-register, email Mike Aguilar (mike@americanadoptions.com) or call 1-800-ADOPTION. Please provide your name, phone number(s) and how many will be attending. Feel free to contact us with any questions regarding our seminars for adoptive families as well.

To participate in the tele-seminar, dial (866) 434-5269 and enter code 3796240 to join the conference call.

If you’re interested in attending an Adoption 101 Seminar with American Adoptions in person, you’re also in luck! We’ll be in Tampa, Florida on September 14th! Visit this post for the details!

31
Jul

August Home Study Seminars

Home StudyResidents of Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Florida and Arizona: Let us help you get started on your adoption home study – right from the comfort of your home!

A home study is a basic overview of your life and home environment. It includes a review of you, your spouse, and anyone else living in your home and highlights things like your relationships and interactions with children, your home and neighborhood, your own upbringing and childhood and your personal finances. A home study also verifies requisite documents and background checks needed for an approved home study. Every adoption requires an approved adoption home study as they help the court system, judges and our agency determine if a family can provide a stable environment for an adopted child.

The home study process can be intimidating at first for some families, but American Adoptions helps make the process easy and stress-free. Our Home Study Tele-Seminar will cover the process to obtain an approved home study in the state where you reside. We will also answer FAQs from adoptive families including the overall cost for a home study, the time frame to expect for completion, how to get started, and what each state specifically requires of adoptive families regarding supporting documents and home visits.

Date and Locations:

KANSAS
Date: Tuesday, August 13th
Time: 7:00 PM CST

MISSOURI
Date: Thursday, August 15th
Time: 7:00 PM CST

ARKANSAS
Date: Tuesday, August 20th
Time: 7:00 PM CST

FLORIDA
Date: Thursday, August 22nd
Time: 7:00 PM EST

ARIZONA
Date: Tuesday, August 27th
Time: 7:00PM MST

FOR EACH TELE-SEMINAR, PLEASE NOTE:
Each Tele-Seminar is relevant only to residents of the state that it covers. Pre-registration is required. To pre-register, email Mike Aguilar (mike@americanadoptions.com) or call 1-800-ADOPTION. Please provide your name, phone number(s) and how many will be attending. Feel free to contact us with any questions regarding our seminars for adoptive families as well.

To participate in the tele-seminar, dial (866) 434-5269 and enter code 3796240 to join the conference call.

15
Mar

Now Offering a Home Study 101 Tele-Seminar for Florida Families!

Adoption SeminarCalling all Florida residents! Let us help you begin the adoption process with an adoption home study!

An adoption home study is a basic overview of your life and home environment. It includes a review of you, your spouse, and anyone else living in your home and highlights items such as your relationships and interactions with children, your home and neighborhood, your childhood and your finances. A home study also verifies requisite documents and background checks needed for an approved home study. An adoption home study is required in every adoption and helps the court system, judges and our agency determine if a stable environment exists for a family to receive an adoptive placement.

Initially, the home study process can be intimidating to some families, but American Adoptions helps make the process easy and stress-free. Our Home Study Tele-Seminar will cover the process to obtain an approved home study in Florida. We will also answer frequently asked questions from adoptive families including the overall cost for a home study, the time frame to expect for completion, how to get started, and what the State of Florida specifically requires of adoptive families regarding supporting documents and home visits.

Dates and Locations:

Date: Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013
Time: 7:00 P.M. EST
Where: Tele-Seminar for Florida Residents
Notes: This conference call is for Florida families only. There is no cost to attend this seminar.

Pre-registration is required. To pre-register, email Mike Aguilar mike@americanadoptions.com or call 1-800-ADOPTION. Please provide your name, phone number(s) and how many will be attending. Feel free to contact us with any questions regarding our seminars for adoptive families as well.

To participate in the tele-seminar, dial (866) 434-5269 and enter code 3796240 to join the conference call.

16
Oct

Before Finalization: The Need for Post-Placement Visits

You’ve conquered the home study, survived the wait and have settled into your new routine as a family with your new little bundle of joy. Your adoption journey is complete – or is it?

Once you receive placement of your child, but are still waiting for the finalization of your adoption, there are still some last steps you must take. All adoptions require a certain amount of post-placement visits. These visits to your home, which are usually conducted by your home study agency, are required by the courts and agency licensing entities to ensure that the adoptive placement is a positive one for both the adoptive family and the child. You will discuss a variety of topics with the social worker, such as developmental milestones, information from pediatrician visits and how the child and other family members are adjusting.

The number of post-placement visits vary state by state and even by licensing entities; however, most states require three on average. The number of required post-placements for your adoption is based on the state where your adoption will finalize – not necessarily where you live. These visits are required to continue until the adoption is finalized and may be required to begin as soon as 14 days after placement. It is the adoptive family’s responsibility to arrange post-placement supervision and ensure that this requirement is met.

If you have already received placement and have questions concerning your post-placement supervision requirements, contact your Adoptive Family Specialist at 1-800-ADOPTION.

 

9
Oct

The Importance of Having the Right Home Study

Adoption Home StudyAmerican Adoptions often receives inquiries from families regarding whether our agency will accept a previously completed state-level home study. Unfortunately, in most cases our agency cannot.

Adoption home studies are not all equal. There are many reasons why our agency may not be able to accept your completed state-level home study:

  • Typically, state home studies are written for foster care, not adoption.
  • Most state agencies will not alter their home studies, meaning families may be unable to obtain an update or addendum if necessary.
  • State home studies are not often geared for private interstate adoption. They are written to comply with one that state’s regulations.
  • State agencies typically will not release the family’s supporting documents, and so they may need to rerun clearances and obtain additional references, etc.

No matter your state’s policy on home study updates, your placement agency may have additional requirements. For example, American Adoptions requires home studies be current within one calendar year, meaning that a home study is good for 12 months and then will require an update.

American Adoptions requires yearly updates to adhere to most states’ policies. We follow this strict policy on home study updates because an adoptive family residing in a state where their home study is good for 18 months could accept an adoption opportunity with a birth mother whose state requires a home study update every 12 months. The adoption would be delayed due to this complication.

In addition to an annual update to your written home study, a few supporting documents require yearly renewal prior to their date of expiration. Your background clearances (child abuse, FBI and criminal clearances), physician health reports and tax return must be updated annually.

Ensuring that you have the right kind of home study for your needs is a key step in the adoption process. Adoption home study services provided by American Adoptions are fast and cost-effective. Our home study services can be used for any domestic adoption, embryo adoption or international adoption (except with China). American Adoption provides home study services for adoptive families in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, and Missouri. For more information on home studies, visit the Adoption Home Study section of our website.

If you live in a state where we are not licensed to do a home study, please go to 1-800-HomeStudy to find an adoption professional that will provide local adoption home study services to you.

3
Aug

Reader Request: When can we reactivate for another adoption?

My husband and I recently placed with our amazing daughter and have begun discussing our timeline for adopting again. Does American Adoptions have a time frame that we must wait before becoming an actively waiting family again? Also, are any of the previous fees waived or reduced for returning families? – Heather

American Adoptions recommends that families wait at least until their previous adoption is finalized (usually six months to a year) before beginning to become active again for another adoption.

Once you bring your baby home, you will be very busy developing a new daily routine and with trips to the pediatrician for check-ups, middle-of-the-night feedings, visits with family and friends and much more. It is a very special time for you and your spouse (and your other children) to bond with the baby and enjoy one-on-one time with your new family member! By waiting until your adoption is finalized, the amount of time that passes will likely mirror a natural birth order as well. Our agency recommends you take time meanwhile to focus on this baby before you embark on another adoption journey!

When you return to our agency, you’ll need to begin the process all over again. If your home study is less than two years old, you will need an Extensive Home Study Update. If it is more than two years old, you will need to begin a completely new home study. If you used another home study professional, please contact them to initiate the process and follow their requirements. Please note that regardless of your situation, you will need to produce new copies of many supporting documents including criminal and child abuse clearances.

Families who reactivate with American Adoptions are required to complete new print and online profiles to make sure their photos and text are up-to-date and in accordance with any new formatting. These families will also be required to complete a video profile– a relatively new service that showcases families in a whole new way-even if they have done one previously.

Returning families do not pay a pre application fee and will have discounted fees for other items during their adoption process. We also now offer a limited-risk program to minimize a family’s financial loss in the event of a disruption. Read about this program on our website. And speak with an Adoptive Family Coordinator at 1-800-ADOPTION to learn more!

24
Jul

Getting Through the Paperwork

Advice from Adoption VeteransAdvice from Adoption Veterans

This week, adoption veterans have advice and encouragement for getting through the pre-activation stage of adoption. Even though it might feel like you’re buried under paperwork, take comfort in knowing that you’re not alone!  

“The volume of paperwork is daunting, but I think it’s very necessary. It demonstrates your genuine desire and that you’re willing to persevere.” -Linda

“When I first saw the questionnaire, it about made my head explode, and I had to put it away. I couldn’t look at the whole thing in one sitting. It’s questions that you never considered before. The more you talk to people, and the more we learned and went along, to reduce our wait time, we wanted to be more and more open. And we realized that we were open to more than we thought we originally were. The wait kind of helped to think about it a little more.” -Jim

“It felt a little overwhelming, just kind of daunting at how much there was to do. But we kind of took it one step at a time. They said, try to start with the home study first. So we got that process started, and then you  know, we did the finger printing. I just kind of tried to separate each step in my head on its own so that it didn’t seem all at once. And then once we got through that, it was a really good feeling that we had put all that together.” -Diane

“The way I started looking at it was, if American Adoptions called me today and said I could come pick up this baby, under what circumstances would I give the baby back, And I realized that there were quite a lot of instances that I would feel comfortable keeping the baby.” -Kelly

“Everything was so– I don’t want to say easy– but it was so nice to know that we had three people right there.” -Ashley (on her home study worker, Adoptive Family Coordinator and Adoptive Family Specialist)

“The APQ was amazing. It was such a good tool. It was cumbersome and kind of annoying to do it because it was like, gosh, how many questions are they going to ask? But it really narrowed things down. I really enjoyed it.” -Robin

“Talk about the tough issues and about how you would handle certain situations. Be honest in your APQ about your comfort levels with race, drug exposure, medical history and budget. We knew when we turned in our APQ that we would be fine with any match that we were called with based on our answers in our APQ. Then finally try to relax and enjoy the process that will make you parents.” -Faith

“With infertility treatments, we felt we weren’t in control of anything and whether it was going to work. On the other hand, when making our Adoptive Family Profile, we felt like we actually had control of something. We really wanted to show everything about us, take the best pictures, and show what our life was really like.” -Anne

“Save everything you do for your adoption: the APQ, profile, pictures ect to put in your future son or daughter’s scrapbook. These are all important steps you will take and will want to remember. I had a lot of fun doing this and will share it with my son when he’s older!” -Ashley

“Don’t fret about the paper work, but make sure to complete it in a timely manner. Be honest and open when it comes to filling out the APQ.” -Holly

“It’s a lot of work to remember all the addresses you’ve lived at for the past 10 years [for your home study].  An easy way to find all these addresses is your credit report! Your credit report will have a list of all your past addresses for a long time.” -Sarah

“Know there are going to be some down days… Just do something each day. I would do something each day toward the adoption, even if it was just filling out one form. Just do little by little so that you don’t get burned out.” -Robin

“For getting through the print and video profiles, just be yourself!  We all get nervous to write about who we are and what we wish for the future and especially to videotape ourselves!  Try to have fun and remember to be yourself- that’s who a birth parent wants to see!  We all have things that make us, our family and situations special- embrace those and let them shine through!  Bring the video camera everywhere you go, and treat it like you are capturing home movies!  Have fun with it!” -Lisa

“Get a receipt.” -Jeff

That last one is short, but true. It’s always a good idea to make sure you get financial records during each step of the adoption process! For more advice, check out American Adoptions employee and adoptive mother Jenny’s post on adoption paperwork!

What’s some of your best advice for getting through home studies, profiles and all the paperwork involved in adoption?

11
Nov

Happy Veterans Day!

Thank You Veterans!On this Veterans Day, we want to thank the men and women who serve and protect us in the military! We are honored to help support and grow your families through adoption. While working with military families does come with special considerations, our staff is fully qualified to address any situations as they arise. Here are some frequently asked questions and tips for military families:

What if a spouse is deployed during the adoption process?

The deployment of a spouse does not stop the adoption process. The spouse being deployed will simply need to grant a power of attorney to the other spouse, thus allowing them to make all legal decisions regarding the adoption for the other spouse while they are away.

What if we are transferred to another state during the adoption process?

Many families, both civilian and military, need to move during the adoption process due to job relocation or other reasons. The waiting family will need to get a home study update or a new home study, depending on the home study provider. This may postpone the adoption process, as a fully updated home study is required for all adoptions. Until your home study is completed or updated, we will be unable to present your profile to an expectant mother for an adoption opportunity. Once this step is completed, your profile will once again be shown to expectant mothers and your adoption process will continue forward.

Does American Adoptions offer services to Military Families Stationed Outside of the U.S.

No matter where your family is stationed, American Adoptions can help you fulfill your dreams of parenthood. Our agency has worked with couples from across the globe. But there are some basic considerations for families stationed outside the US:

Step 1: The Adoption Home Study
A home study is required for every adoption. Military couples abroad must ensure that their home study meets the regulations of the country they reside in. Couples are encouraged to first research the home study requirements of their country prior to beginning the home study process; refer to the Social Services Department of the base where you reside for advice on finding a qualified home study provider. The agency will also require the home study and any additional supporting documents be needed be translated into English. Once the home study is complete, American Adoptions will work with the home study provider to ensure it meets all US requirements.

Step 2: Legal Representation
American Adoptions strongly recommends that couples living outside of the United States speak with an adoption or immigration attorney in the country they reside in to discuss any legal or immigration/citizenship issues that may affect the adoption. Military families should consult with their local JAG office about their adoption plans prior to beginning the adoption process. Couples should seek to retain an attorney with specific knowledge and experience in the steps that will be necessary to bring a child from the United States into the country they reside in. Our agency will require written verification from either legal counsel or an adoption authority in your country verifying that your adoption will be valid in your country.

Step 3: The Adoption Process
Once American Adoptions verifies that your home study meets all US requirements and we have received your Preliminary App, Profile Kit and Questionnaire, you will become an active family with American Adoptions and your profile will be shown to expectant mothers. Your adoption process will proceed as all other American Adoptions’ cases from the time you are active with the agency until you receive an adoption opportunity with an expectant mother and receive placement of the child.

Step 4: Placement/Finalization
Travel
Military couples living abroad will be required to travel to the US for the placement of the child. You will need to apply for a passport for the baby before being allowed to return to your the country where you are stationed. This process can take an average of 2-4 weeks. American Adoptions and/or your legal counsel will guide you through the steps for this process. This process may require you to travel to another part of the US to physically appear at one of the passport agencies that can assist in expedited passport services. Additionally, couples may be required to travel back to the US for the finalization of the adoption, which typically occurs approximately six months following the placement of the child.

Citizenship
Military couples living abroad will be responsible for meeting all citizenship, immigration and passport requirements for the adopted child. Couples should note that procuring a passport for their adopted child may require lengthy steps. Couples are encouraged to seek the services of an experienced immigration or adoption attorney in the country they reside in to ensure that all immigration requirements are met. Military couples should also consult with their local JAG office for information on obtaining a passport for the adopted child and any other travel concerns that may arise when traveling from the US to the overseas military base where you are stationed.

Post-Placement Visits
All post-placement supervision visits must be done according to US requirements and the requirements of the state where the adoption occurs. Since American Adoptions will not yet know in which state the adoption will occur, military couples must ensure that their post-placement provider is prepared to meet these requirements. Our agency will give your post-placement provider further assistance at the time of the supervision so they know how many visits to have, how to write the reports, where to send them, etc. If you plan to stay in the US during the post-placement supervision time period, please prepare to contract with a post-placement provider in the United States. We can assist you with this further once you have received your placement.

What resources within the military are supportive of families in general and might assist military families in their adoption pursuit?

To learn more about resources available to support military families who are pursuing adoption and for other important things to know for military families overseas and in the US, read the article Military Families and Adoption on the American Adoptions website.

10
Sep

Sharing the Love!

Jenny's Adoption StoryAmerican Adoptions employee and adoptive parent Jenny recently wrote a blog post for I Can Teach My Child, a resource to help parents teach their kids through everyday interaction.

Jenny’s post gives helpful advice about the adoption process, beginning to end. Here are some things to consider:

  • Have your home study conducted by a licensed agency with two or more employees. That way, if one employee has to take some time off you won’t loose the progress on your paperwork.
  • Keep a calendar with details about expiration dates of home study paperwork. It will help you stay on top of your home study.
  • Fundraise early and explore your options. Jenny’s post has several creative ideas and outlets for fundraising.
  • Start thinking about your profile early. You’ll need pictures together as a couple and individually. And writing the letter to a potential birth mother might be more difficult than you think.
  • Be patient. It may seem like a lot of work up-front. But as Jenny says, “It will all be worth it in the end when you hold your little one and know that he or she is yours forever!”

Check out the rest of Jenny’s post for more advice and pearls of wisdom. And if any of you are doing this too and talking about parenting or adoption, we’d love to hear about it!

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter (@adoptions) and Facebook  (Facebook.com/AmericanAdoptions)  for all American Adoptions news!

Page 1 of 1