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The Washington, D.C. Adoption Home Study

What to Know and How to Prepare

What is an adoption home study?

An adoption home study in Washington, D.C., is essentially an assessment of a family’s readiness to adopt. A social worker will take an in-depth look at your family and your lives and determine whether or not you are ready to add a child (or another child) into the mix. It can seem intimidating, but the purpose of this article is to educate you as much as possible about the District of Columbia adoption home study process. The more you know, the better you can prepare!

Each Washington, D.C., adoption home study is comprised of three main phases: a documentation stage that includes background checks, a home inspection, and interviews with each family member living in your home. And, while we know it can be nerve-wracking to undergo an adoption home study in the District of Columbia, remember that your home study provider is just there to help you on your journey to growing your family!

How does the Washington, D.C., adoption home study process work?

To help you understand what you’re facing with the Washington, D.C., adoption home study, we’ve outlined the general process in just a few easy steps:

  • Step 1: Choose a home study provider near you. In Washington, D.C., we recommend working with Cradle of Hope Adoption Center.

  • Step 2: Work with local law enforcement to complete background checks and obtain any necessary criminal records. If you do have a criminal history, know that this may not necessarily prevent you from adopting a child, although it will depend largely on the nature of the crime and the circumstances surrounding it.

  • Step 3: Sit down with your home study provider to learn what else you’ll need to complete the District of Columbia adoption home study process.

  • Step 4: Get all of the necessary documents ready to give to your home study provider when the day comes. This can be the most time-consuming part of the process, so see below for a checklist.

  • Step 5: Invite your home study provider into your home for the home visit and interviews.

  • Step 6: Once your home study provider sends your completed District of Columbia adoption home study document, ensure that all information is correct and confirm with the provider.

And just like that, your home study is over! You’ll be free and clear to begin actively searching for a child to adopt. However, please keep in mind that if you undergo any significant life changes prior to adopting a child, you will need to contact your home study provider to update the document.

D.C. Adoption Home Study Checklist

The documentation phase is easily the most time-consuming part of the entire Washington, D.C., home study process. In order to speed things along as much as possible, we’ve compiled a list of things you will most likely need to provide to your social worker:

  • Birth certificates

  • Marriage certificate

  • Green cards or proof of citizenship

  • Drivers' licenses

  • Proof of insurance

  • Passports for international adoption

  • Background checks and clearances. You’ll need to see all relevant law enforcement agencies to obtain both your fingerprints and background checks to give to your home study provider.

  • Financial information. This could be pay stubs, tax returns, or income statements, but you’ll need to show your home study provider that you are financially prepared to provide everything a child may need. This doesn’t at all mean that you need to be wealthy, but it’s important that you’re capable of providing for a child.

  • Autobiographical statements. Both you and your spouse will write stories that span your lives, focusing specifically on the events that led you to your desire to adopt.

  • References. You don’t need to have anyone write an adoption reference letter, but you should be able to provide the names and contact information of three to five people your home study provider could contact if necessary.

In terms of the home inspection, you’ll want to make sure the following are present and in working order:

  • Smoke detectors

  • Carbon monoxide detectors

  • Locks and screens on all doors and windows

  • An easily accessible list of emergency phone numbers

  • Fire extinguishers

  • Covered trash cans

  • A first-aid kit

  • Safeguards around any heating equipment or fireplaces

  • A home evacuation plan

  • Covered outlets

  • Fences around any pools or bodies of water

To learn more about the Washington, D.C., adoption process with our agency, please contact American Adoptions at 1-800-ADOPTION. 

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