Q: Do you have to be living in the home we plan on raising our child in before the adoption home study is done? Would it be acceptable to tell the social worker doing our home study that our current home is where we live for now and that between the home study and adoption, we have plans move somewhere in our current neighborhood with more space that would be conducive for a child to live?
A: The homestudy is done before the adoption to evaluate your ability to parent. What exactly has to be covered in the homestudy varies by state, and can even vary by counties within a state. If you are adopting internationally, most sending countries also specify items they want addressed in the home study. For example, some states have specific bedroom size requirements for the child, some countries require that you own your own home, some counties require that you have your well water tested for EPA drinking water standards, etc.
Regardless what state you live in, the social worker will evaluate your living situation. If where you are living is unsafe for a child, then you would probably have to move before the homestudy because the social worker would have no way to make sure that you will move to some place safe before your child is born or referred. However, if your apartment is just small and not the ideal place that you would like to have, but isn’t unsafe or totally inappropriate for a baby, then you do not need to move before the homestudy, unless of course your state or sending country has a specific requirement that your current apartment doesn’t meet. You should tell the social worker that you are planning on moving to a bigger place in the same neighborhood, but he or she will be evaluating your current resident for the homestudy. You do not need to have the child’s bedroom or nursery ready for the child before the homestudy.
I am assuming you are renting your apartment. This is seldom a problem for state or county homestudy requirements, but some sending countries specify that adoptive families own their own home. Before you panic, check with your agency to see if there is some way around this requirement. I have heard of countries waiving this requirement if the adoptive parents have a letter from their parents saying that they will inherit the “family house”.
I think the biggest mistake people make in anticipation of the homestudy is focusing on the evaluating aspect. Ideally, a homestudy is as much about educating you and answering your questions as it is about judging your worthiness to adopt. Remember, they aren’t looking for perfection. If they were, I would never have been allowed to adopt.Image credit: chrisinplymouth