You’ve read up on the home study process, researched the requirements for your state and studied every possible interview question…but now what? With so many different steps and rules to follow, the home study can be overwhelming before it even starts. However, if you take the time to plan ahead and organize a list of all the things you need to accomplish, the process becomes a lot less stressful.
“By following a home study checklist, you break down the entire process into bite-size pieces that will be far less overwhelming.” says Verenise Suarez, an adoption professional who has helped more than 120 families complete their home studies.
After hearing this, we created our own resource to prepare you for everything a social worker will be looking for during the initial interview. You can download our printable home study checklist by clicking here. Feel free to print it out and follow along as we cover each item in detail below.
A detailed essay that reflects on your entire life from birth to making the choice to adopt a child. This can include a broad range of things such as childhood memories, sports, hobbies, social life, relationships and anything else that has helped you reach the point you’re at now.
A short 4-5 paragraph essay that explains the style of parenting you intend to use, and how you’ll handle situations where the child needs to be disciplined. Also include information on how you plan to care for the child if they require special attention (medical issues), if applicable.
Drivers License or Government Issued ID will be required for every person living in the home during the course of the home study.
Birth Certificates will be required for every person living in the home during the course of the home study.
If you are currently married or will be married before the home study is completed, a marriage certificate will need to be provided. This applies to other couples that may be living within the home as well.
If you or anyone living in your home has been discharged from the military, they will need to provide their Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (DD Form 214).
If you are adopting internationally from another country, a passport will need to be on-hand and current for every household member intending to travel during the home study process.
If you or anyone living in your home has been part of an adoption in the past, the previous adoption decree(s) will need to be validated before starting the current home study.
You will need proof of residency in the U.S. to adopt a child, in the form of either a social security card or green card. This is required for you, and anyone else living in your home during the home study process.
Everyone currently living at your home will need a health statement from your family physician indicating that you are in good health. Some social workers may also require a complete physical that is no older than one year, so please review your state’s home study requirements in addition to this list.
Any household pets will need proof of vaccinations, as well as records of any shots that are administered on a yearly basis.
A selection of 3-5 reference letters from close family and friends. The more references the better as they are the primary way for social workers to identify your readiness to have a child.
It’s important to verify your employment by providing either a recent pay stub or income tax statement indicating you and/or your spouse are currently employed. Be aware that in some cases a social workers may contact your place of employment as an additional reference.
You will be asked to provide your most recent income tax statement or W-2 in order to validate that your monthly income is suitable to the costs of raising a child.
Any form of insurance you or other members of your household currently have should be documented and provided to your social worker. This can often indicate your ability to manage finances properly, and have a positive effect on the outcome of your home study.
Everyone living in your home during the home study process will need to pass a criminal background check for every state they have resided in past 5 years. The number of years can vary depending on the type of adoption, so please check with your social worker to find the correct clearance in your specific case.
Every member of your household will be checked against the child protective services records to ensure there have been signs of child abuse or neglect in the past.
In addition to the standard criminal background check, all members of the household will be searched for any convictions within the federal law enforcement agencies’ records.
The names of everyone living in your home during the home study process will be checked against the state and national sex offender registries to ensure they have no prior history of sexual assault.
Fires are one of the highest risks in a home environment, so it’s important that all of your smoke detectors are tested thoroughly and have their batteries replaced as needed.
At least one carbon monoxide detector should be present in the home at all times. Test thoroughly and replace batteries if needed.
Ensure all pill bottles, cleaning supplies and other toxic substances are in a closed cabinet that is off the ground, and out of the reach of small children.
Metal screens or child-proof gates should be placed across all fireplaces, stoves and other potential burn hazards within your home.
Waste bags need to be stored in a container with a closable-lid or placed cabinet that securely shuts when not in use. Especially for smaller waste bins that are common in bathrooms/bedrooms.
All firearms need to be unloaded and stored in a locked container that is separate from the locked container that the ammunition is stored in.
Child-proof covers for all wall outlets inside your home is recommended, but at the very least all of the outlets on the floor your child’s bedroom is on should be securely covered.
Every staircase should have a child-size gate or fence on both ends. This can also include steps/ramps outside if they are frequently used to enter/exit the home.
All windows need to have a child-proof lock and/or screen cover, especially if the windows are on a floor above ground level.
It’s not always required, but we strongly suggest having your emergency contact information posted in a visible location such as the kitchen fridge or an entry way wall.
In-ground pools should be fenced in using child-proof gates or other solutions to only allow a single access point. Above ground pools and hot tubs should be covered securely or fenced in if covering isn’t an option.
Having a plan in place for emergencies in your home shows that you’re committed to keeping everyone in your home safe and prepared for the worst. We suggest posting this in the same place(s) next to your emergency contact information.
You never know when a first-aid kit might be needed, and including one on each floor of your house ensures that you’re never more than a few steps away from medical equipment.
Even though you have taken every precaution to remove fire hazards from your home, it’s important to still have a few fire extinguishers on hand in case of emergency. The most common place for fires is the kitchen area, so we recommended at least having one in this room.
Being CPR certified is an excellent way to show your social worker that you are prepared for any situation that might arise. It’s also invaluable knowledge to have in general, as you never know when it might come in handy later on in life.
You might have had basic health courses in high-school, but proper first-aid training will make sure you know exactly what to do when you or your child are injured unexpectedly.
Many social workers will recommend taking a series of courses that introduce you to the world of parenting. They often include helpful tips and techniques for new parents, but always check with your social working before enrolling to ensure you take the exact courses they require.
Once you have completed this checklist, you are ready to begin the adoption home study process! The next step will be lengthy, so remember that preparation is key in turning this process into a rewarding experience you’ll cherish for many years to come. Take a moment to reflect on everything we’ve covered and if you missed any of our previous articles they are linked here:
How to Prepare for the Home Study – Step-by-Step Guide
If you have completed all of the steps above, please click here to get started with the home study process. We are also available 24/7 to answer any remaining questions you might have, so feel free to contact us.