EGWs6uuBZ3pp-zGuVVdmeLgkJG4 Across the Avenue: Home Study Information #AdoptionTips

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Home Study Information #AdoptionTips

The Home Study
The term “home study” encompasses all of the paperwork, interviews, and verification needed for adoption agencies to freely communicate back-and-forth regarding potential matches. Your home study is the first thing requested when you inquiry about potential adoption matches.

Home Study Paperwork
Typically, it’s composed of several parts and forms:

  • Child Abuse Clearance – a form requiring each parent’s SSN, DOB, Name, Address and other information.

  • Local Background Check – call your local sheriff’s department to ask how to receive a certified background check. Usually it’s an in-person visit to their office with a nominal fee ($5 to $15) to run a person’s Name and DOB, then you receive an official print out.

  • Fingerprint Clearance – you set up an appointment at a verified fingerprint location, usually a franchise mailing business, via a link and a code that your home study agency provides. The fee is usually between $30 and $60 per person.

  • Adult Medical form – a form for the doctor of each adult in the household to fill out and sign, including Name, Exam Date, Height, Weight with place for Physician’s signature, Printed Name, License Number, Date, Address, and Phone Number. Depending on insurance this is free if you’re in for an annual appointment, or for a fee if the doctor needs to make an appointment to see you.

  • Child’s Medical form – a form for the doctor of each child in the household to fill out and sign, including Name and Exam Date with place for Physician’s signature, Printed Name, License Number, and Date. Depending on insurance this is free if you’re in for an annual appointment, or for a fee if the doctor needs to make an appointment to see the child. If there are no children in the household adopting, this is not a requirement.

  • Photocopy of the most recent tax return filed – self explanatory

  • Employment Letter – a verification from a supervisor on company letterhead stating your Name, Position, Length of Employment, Full or Part-Time Status, and Current Salary. It must be signed.

  • Financial Statement – a form to fill out with each adult’s Name, Annual Gross Income, Other Income and Source, all Assets (e.g., real estate, automobiles, savings, cash, stocks, bonds, retirement accounts, life insurance, checking, recreational vehicles, etc.), Liabilities (e.g., all mortgages, vehicle loans, student loans, personal loans, credit card debt, other miscellaneous debts, etc.), and Expenses (e.g., mortgage payments, loan payments, utilities, internet, phone, cable, food, insurance, house and vehicle maintenance, transportation, clothing, donations, etc.). Once complete this form must be notarized, which can usually be done at your financial institution for free.

  • Reference Forms – each form is given to a personal reference, although only form may be from a family member. In our case it was FIVE forms total (NOT five for each adult). Questions on the reference form include:
How long have you known the adoptive applicant(s)?
What is your association or relationship with the applicant(s)?
How would you describe each applicant’s individual personalities, character, interests and health?
If applicable, how to view the applicants’ current marital or domestic relationship?
Please describe each applicant’s individual strengths and weaknesses.
If applicant’s are married or in a domestic relationship, what are their strengths and weaknesses as a couple?
Please describe the applicant or applicants’ lifestyle, activities, and interests.
Are you aware of or have you seen evidence of instability, drug or alcohol use, or felt counseling was needed for the applicant(s)?
Why do you think the applicant(s) wish to adopt a child?
Please describe the type of parent(s) you feel the applicant(s) will be.
Describe the qualities each applicant exhibits that would contribute to their ability to effectively parent.
How would you describe the applicant(s) ability to make and keep commitments?
How does the applicant(s) handle stress or problems?
If you were responsible for the child’s future would you want the applicant(s) to adopt the child?
Additional comments.

The form requires the reference’s Name, Signature, Address, and Phone Number.

  • Photocopy of birth certificate each adult – self-explanatory
  • Photocopy of marriage certificate – self-explanatory
  • Photocopy of any divorce decree – self-explanatory

  • Guardianship Statement – a form for the person who will assume guardianship in the event you are incapacitated, debilitated, or die prematurely. This requires the person(s) Name, Age, Profession, Health Status, Marital Status, Address, Relationship to Adoptive Parent(s), and if children are in the home what their ages are. The guardian(s) sign and date the form.

  • Affidavit of Good Moral Character – a form each adult signs attesting never having been arrested or found guilty of any state crimes such as sexual misconduct, adult or child abuse, false imprisonment, exhibiting firearms near a school, arson, burglary, etc. A list is provided to read through and each adult signs it AND has it notarized.

  • Home Study Inventory – this is the longest form, where you fill in basically everything: Name, DOB, SSN, places you’ve lived in the past five years, address, phone number, email, etc. It also asks some basic criminal questions and for a description of your home: rooms, type of residency, fenced yard, patio, pool, payment structure if there is a mortgage, fire extinguishers, monoxide alarms, smoke alarms, nearby hazards like water, etc. It also has questions for each adult to answer:

How long have you considered adoption?
What are your reasons?
If international adoption, from which countries?
Age of child requested
Number of children requested
Preference on child’s race, ethnicity, gender, special needs
What is your mother’s full name, including maiden name?
What is your father’s full name?
When were your parents married and divorced, if applicable?
If a parent is dead, when did they die and for what reason?
What was the impact on your life from a parent passing?
Did either parent remarry, if so to whom?
What effect did the remarriage have on your life?
What is the name of the step-parent?
How old were you when your parent(s) remarried?
What was your relationship like with each parent after the divorce?
Where does each parent currently live?
What does each parent currently do for a living?
What is your current relationship with your parents?
What is the name, age, birth year, number of children, profession, and state of residence for each of your siblings?
What is your relationship with each sibling?
Where were you raised (city, state, country)?
What did your parents do for a living while you were growing up?
Describe your mother’s personality
Describe your father’s personality
Describe your overall childhood experience and relationship with all family members
What are your happiest childhood memories?
Did you enjoy school?
What kind of student were you?
What were your interests and activities during childhood/adolescence?
Describe any abuse you suffered as a child
How were you disciplined as a child?
How was good behavior acknowledged or reinforced?
What are your strengths?
What are your weaknesses?
How do you cope with stress?
What are your hobbies or passions?
Do you volunteer or work for any social organizations?
How frequently do you consume alcohol?
How frequently and for what reason do you consume narcotics/controlled substances?
How frequently and what type of tobacco do you use?
If married/domestic partnership, how did you meet, where, and what date?
What was the reason(s) for attraction?
How long did you date before engaged/married?
How long have you been in a committed relationship?
Describe your marriage, partnership, or relationship
How do you express affection?
How are disagreements resolved?
Describe the most difficult situation in your marriage, partnership, relationship and how you resolved it
If you’ve attended couples counseling, when and for what reason did you start?
How are household finances handled?
How are household chores divided?
Describe your spouse/partner
What are your common interests and activities?
Describe each child’s personality, grade, hobbies and if biological or adopted
How does the child feel about the adoption plan?
How will the child adjust to a new sibling in the home?
If previously married, what is the name of the former spouse, marriage date and place, and divorce date and place
What was the reason for the divorce?
If any children were born during the previous marriage or a non-marital relationship, what are name, DOB, age, and grade/college/profession now?
Where do they live and who do they live with?
How often do you see them?
What is the custody arrangement?
What is the relationship like?
How do they feel about the adoption plan?
What religion are you?
Where do you practice your religion?
How often do you attend?
What religion will you be raising the adopted child in?
Will the adopted child be your first?
What exposure have you had with children previously?
Describe your parenting style
What moral values would you like you children to have?
Describe any family members experience with adoption
What experience do you have with any interracial children?
What goals do you have for our child’s education?
How will you discipline your children?
Will you use spanking, and if so, under what circumstances?
How will you acknowledge, reinforce, encourage appropriate behavior?
What are your feelings toward birth parents who place their children for adoption?
How will you explain adoption to your child?
Where and when did you attend high school?
Did you graduate?
Describe any higher education or specialized training you have (Name of Institution, Location, Degree, Year Completed)
List any current professional licenses (Type, Agency, Date Received)
If applicable, list the military branch, entry, separation dates, and type of discharge
What is the name and address of your current employer?
How long have you held the position you are in?
What is the name and address of your former employer?
How long did you hold that position?
How long will each parent take off of work when the adoption finalizes?
How will leave affect your income?
What are your childcare plans upon returning to work?
What is the name of our primary care physician?
What medical condition(s) do you have?
What medication(s) are you taking?
Do you have insurance coverage, and if so, what carrier provides it?
What is the name, type, age, and latest vaccinations of all pets in the household?
Are the pets friendly toward children?
Have any of your pets ever bitten or injured a person?
Have you ever been arrested, and if so, please provide an explanation?
Do you have a history of physical, mental, or emotional problems?
Have you ever had an arrest expunged or sealed from your record?
Have you ever initiated or completed a prior home study, and if so what was the agency and contact person?
Have you ever had a home study terminated prior to placement (unfavorable, rejection)? If so, provide explanation
Have you ever been refused a Visa clearance from the U.S. government?

This form may require additional sheets depending on your answers. It is used by the agency representative as a conversation guide during your interview process.

Once all of the above is formalized and ready for review, your adoption agency representative will likely come to your home to collect all the paperwork and perform a visual inspection. During this time an informal interview based on the forms is conducted. The actual home study released to other adoption agencies is a distillation of all of the above but not an exact copy of all forms and paperwork.

    Tips from our Home Study
    It looks more daunting than it is. For us, we gathered the completed five reference forms as the first step. Once those were all submitted to our agency rep we set a date about a month away for the home study inventory review (the interview). We made appointments for the background and fingerprint checks, then we sat down to pick away at the various other pieces of paperwork. Photocopies of licenses and tax returns were easy. A lot of the forms are not difficult, just time consuming, so we sectioned out an hour each night to fill them in. We used our bank for notarization services. All together it took us about three weeks to finish so we had time to spare!  

    The interview was easy and very informal. Our rep went through all the forms and made her own notes, asking us any clarification questions she needed. We sat for three hours simply talking through our questions and concerns, plus taking a short tour of our home. It was not difficult or stressful at all. The only additional item we needed to complete was a Department of Children and Families search because we had moved from another state within five years of starting our adoption journey.