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How to Meet Your Home Study Requirements

What Do Social Workers Look for in Home Visits?

It’s common for a family considering adoption to have a lot of questions about the home study. At first, this step of the adoption process may feel stressful. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

You can complete the adoption home study with little stress on your way to a successful adoption with our help.

We've created this guide about home study requirements to help prepare you for the process ahead. Our goal is for you to feel confident and prepared for this necessary step in your adoption journey. With the right knowledge, you can complete the home study with ease.

For more information about the home study procedure, you can complete our online form or call 1-800-ADOPTION now to connect with one of our professionals today. If you are ready to begin your home study process, choose your state below.

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What Are the Home Study Requirements?

The home study is made up of several parts. In each, a licensed social worker reviews a hopeful adoptive family’s living situation and evaluates their aptitude for adoption.

The point of the home study is to ensure that you’re prepared for what’s ahead, that every placement is safe, and that it’s in the best interest of the child.

So, what do they look for in a home study? To help you understand the basic home study requirements, we’ve broken them down into three main steps. We’ll go over each step and explain what social workers will be looking for.

Step 1: Document Review

The adoptive family will fill out an application at the beginning of the home study process. The primary purpose of this is to make sure everyone has all of the basic identifying information:

  • Names

  • Social security numbers

  • Residency address

Beyond this basic information, there is a more detailed document review to begin the process. The type of documents needed to meet home study requirements may vary depending on where you live. However, a social worker will typically need to see:

  • Medical records

  • Background checks

  • Proof of income

  • Autobiographies

  • Personal references

  • Any relevant immigration papers

  • And potentially more

 A family can prepare to meet the home study requirements by gathering these documents ahead of time.

Step 2: In-Home Visit

What do social workers look for in-home visits? Generally speaking, they will make sure the home is suitable and safe for a child.

While it can vary partially based on the state you live in, there are some key child safety features social workers will always be looking for. Specifically, that means features such as:

  • Functioning smoke alarms

  • Stairways with safe railings and gates

  • Sharp objects put away safely

  • Electrical outlets covered

  • A fire extinguisher is present

  • Any firearms locked away

  • Proper locks on doorways and windows

  • General cleanliness

Many adoptive families are anxious about this part of the process, but contrary to what you might think, the home inspection is not a “white-glove test” on every surface in your home. Your home needs to be clean and tidy enough that it is safe for a child, but it does not need to be perfect!

A social worker may need several visits to complete the in-home review, although sometimes it only takes one visit. This is the central piece of the adoption home study requirements.

Step 3: Interviews

To better understand the family and evaluate their adoption readiness, a social worker will conduct an interview with each family member living in the house.

During this interview, the social worker will ask the family members questions about their:

  • Personal history

  • Motivation to adopt

  • Plans for being a parent

What social workers look for in-home visit interviews is somewhat subjective, as this is a very personal part of the process. Generally, they are looking for individuals who show the ability to be responsible parents and who are knowledgeable about adoption.

Home Study Requirements by State

Adoption laws are set at the state level but don’t vary too drastically across state lines. There is some sense of nationwide uniformity when it comes to the adoption process.

But, one area where a family may notice a more significant difference is in the home study requirements by state. For example:

  • Some states require a much stricter background check than others, which can take longer to process.

  • Others require more home visits from the social worker, which can also increase the amount of time it takes to complete the home study.

Figuring out the home study requirements by state for where you live can be tricky, which is why American Adoptions created the ultimate guide to adoption by state. This resource will help any family find out exactly what their state’s home study requirements are.

Learn More about Home Study Requirements

There’s good news for any family considering adoption: you don’t have to navigate the home study requirements on your own.

American Adoptions’ expertly trained and certified adoption specialists would love to support you through the process. Their experience and expertise make the process much smoother and less stressful for hopeful families.

We provide home study services in most states. But, in the event we cannot in yours, we will help every hopeful adoptive family find the best local professional suited for them.

To speak with one today, you can complete our online form or call 1-800-ADOPTION now and learn how you can meet the home study requirements.

Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. American Adoptions provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do we need to retain our own attorney?

No, American Adoptions has established relationships with some of the best adoption attorneys in the nation. Because adoption laws vary from state to state and between counties, it is important to utilize the services of an adoption attorney who specializes in the state where the adoption will finalize, which is unknown until you match with an expectant mother. You have the right to retain your own attorney, but doing so may be an additional, unnecessary expense.

Can we choose the gender of our baby?

American Adoptions does not allow gender specificity in adoption. Any family who wishes to be gender-specific in their adoption should contact us at 1-800-ADOPTION and ask about the possibility of an exception waiver before taking any other steps toward adoption with our agency. Any families who do receive an exception to be gender-specific may also incur an additional fee, which helps cover the additional advertising costs of such a request.

Please note that gender specificity will likely increase your wait time significantly.

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