The Adoption Home Study: Preparing and Surviving

Dawn Davenport


When you first start thinking about adoption most people face a mixture of emotions–excitement, confusion, and fear. And one of the most fearful parts of adoption is the adoption home study.

preparing for the adoption home study

One of the best antidotes for fear is information, so we asked our friends at Children’s Connection to explain the adoption home study process.


Starting on your adoption home study may seem overwhelming! It’s common to think that you have to be “picture perfect” in order to “pass” a home study. The purpose of the adoption home study is to document your background and home life. Rather than seeking to “inspect” you and your home, your adoption social worker is there to help you think through the process of adding a child to your household and wants to help you be successful throughout your home study and adoption!

Information Needed for an Adoption Home Study

As part of the adoption home study process, you will be asked for specific information that the social worker will need to complete the home study. Each agency, state, and type of adoption may need different things so wait until asked, but be prepared to provide:

  • Autobiographical information
  • Information regarding your relationship with your spouse (if you are married)
  • A fairly extensive application form
  • Identification
  • Health statements
  • Income and employment statements
  • You may need to provide information regarding your bills, debts and assets
  • Letters of reference
  • Contact information for several character references and extended family members
  • Photos of yourself, your family and your home
  • Copies of diplomas
  • Reports from previous adoptions or foster care placements
  • Letters from counselors or other professionals you’ve seen
  • Pet records and/or a letter from your veterinarian
  • A sketch of your home
  • Adoption education may be required as part of the home study process
  • A psychological assessment may be needed in some situations.

Background Checks for an Adoption Home Study

Criminal history records and child abuse or neglect record clearances will be conducted on all household members of a specific age (usually 18 or older) who live in the home, and may also be needed for children who live elsewhere but who are in your home regularly and on frequent visitors to your home.

Home Visits

Due to varying requirements, there will be one or more interviews and home visits that are necessary. Plan on all household members, including anyone who may or may not be related to you but who resides in your home, attending at least one home visit. Your adoption social worker will need to see that your home is a safe and healthy environment for a child, not that you have the nicest décor or the best furnishings. Homes that are well loved, but show some wear from everyday family life are usually well-suited to adoption.

You are not expected to have “all the answers” during your interviews, but you should be willing to discuss your personal background, your marriage relationship and previous relationships, parenting abilities, health, criminal history, support from family and friends, financial status and your home environment. Always be honest and as open as possible with your social worker. Not revealing information that is then learned from another source can be a reason to not approve your home study.

Major tip!! The faster you get your paperwork into your social worker and the more available you are for home visits, the fast your adoption can happen! This is the only step that you are completely in control of the timeline. Later in your adoption process, there will likely be a longer wait than you prefer. Those who have been slow in completing this step regret that they wasted several months in becoming prepared for their adoption home study.

Remember, no one is expected to have a “picture perfect” home (even your social worker is unlikely to have one of those!). It would be unrealistic to expect a child could live in such an environment, so a home that’s too “picture perfect” might not even be approved. As much as possible, enjoy the first big step toward your adoption success!

Guest Blog Post by Debora Phillips, Director of Children’s Connections, Inc.
Image credit: April Killingsworth

15/01/2018 | by Dawn Davenport | Categories: Adoption, Adoption Blog, Blog | 7 Comments

7 Responses to The Adoption Home Study: Preparing and Surviving

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  4. Avatar Al says:

    Usually the home study takes places in what step during the entire process? I know there are some classes to take. Also, what if your current home doesn’t have a bedroom for a child? Just wondering if I should wait for a home study until I move or if I can at least start it now and just move afterwards?

    • Tracy Whitney Tracy Whitney says:

      That’s a question with lots of logistics involved, and is likely best answered by your agency. They’ll best be able to advise you based on their process and your timeline for moving. If you aren’t already in a contracted relationship with an agency, that would be one of the questions you should consider including in the inquiries for an agency that suits your needs and circumstances. Good luck!

  5. Avatar The Gay Dads says:

    This is a great article about the home study process and effectively breaks down what is needed from prospective parents! In my opinion (having just went through this process) there’s too much information out there – whether it be blogs, pinterest pages etc – that makes too big a deal about the actual social worker visit. Yes, getting the paperwork together is stressful and can get tedious, but we thought the actual visit was very relaxed. We made a big to-do over nothing. Obviously, it’s always going to be a little nerve racking, but you just have to breathe and show them you have a stable and loving environment to welcome that baby home!

    • Tracy Whitney Tracy Whitney says:

      You bring up a good point, that the focus of the meeting is to establish your ability to parent a child in a safe, loving, nurturing environment. That obviously means different things to different people, including social workers. So it’s understandable how the “subjective part” of the dynamic between hopeful parent and social worker is a bit nerve-wracking. Hopefully, folks will find this post to be a good overview of how to prepare practically and mentally! Now that I’ve been through the multiple visits required for my international adoptions, I wonder what it was that I felt so worried over, but I get that the unknown quantity is a big one for many and I know my hindsight is 20/20!

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