1-800-HOMESTUDY

Home Study Concerns Q & A

Q. What might disqualify our family from a home study?

Q. Does an inadequacy of my home automatically disqualify my home study or do I get a chance to fix the problem?

Q. How will my past or criminal background affect my home study?

Q. I'm a single-parent; can I be approved for a home study?

Q. I'm in a same-sex relationship; can I be approved for a home study?

Q. We are a military family; is the home study process different?

Q. We live in a country besides the United States; is the home study process different?

Q. What are some common myths and concerns associated with the home study process?

Q. Should I childproof my home before the home study visit?

Q. Does my home have to be spotlessly clean for my home study to be approved?

Q. How are pets involved in the home study process?

Q. Do we need to prepare our house before the home study when intending to adopt a special needs child?

Q. Can a home study be denied?

Q. If the home study is denied, what are my options?


Q. What might disqualify our family from a home study?

A. Most home studies are approved as long as the adoptive family is honest throughout the home study process, is mentally and physically healthy enough to raise a child, is financially stable, provides a safe and sanitary home, cooperates with all suggestions made by the home study provider, and most importantly is free from any recent or major legal issues.

The majority of states require that prospective adoptive families clear local, state and federal criminal background checks. Furthermore, they may require additional background checks under The Adam Walsh Act, a federal law that checks child abuse and child neglect history in each state the family has lived in for the past 5 to 10 years, depending on the state in which they currently reside.

Most states will not deny a family from adopting because of minor criminal offenses that happened in the past, but all states are different in their criteria of allowable criminal history. The one thing families can do is to be completely honest about all of their past transgressions, as failing to do so will severely limit their chances to adopt. One other major concern of home study providers that is often overlooked by adoptive families is the commitment each family member must demonstrate toward the adoption itself. For example, during the personal interviews, if the father admits he is not totally committed to the addition of a child and he is only going along with his wife’s wishes, this could result in the disqualification of the home study. The family must individually and collectively prove their commitment to the child, because if all parties are not fully on board, it would not be fair to the child or the family to continue with the adoption process.

return to top

Q. Does an inadequacy of my home automatically disqualify my home study or do I get a chance to fix the problem?

A. Concerns with your criminal record, health and financial situation are usually the only issues that may result in the disqualification of your home study, without you having a chance to remedy the problem. Anything in your home that the home study provider determines as unsafe for a child will be presented to you, and you will have a chance to fix those problems for the subsequent in-home visit. For example, the home study social worker may request that before the next visit, you add screens to your windows, covers over radiators, locks on medicine and gun cabinets or a fence around the pool.

It is also the social worker’s responsibility to determine if there is enough room in the home to support a child. This is rarely an issue, but it is noteworthy if you are open to adopting twins, triplets or sibling sets because the home must be of adequate size for multiple children. It is possible that a social worker could approve your home for one child but not for multiple children.

return to top

Q. How will my past or criminal background affect my home study?

A. Home study providers are aware that virtually no family is perfect. Therefore, depending on the seriousness of the crime and how recently it occurred, most home study providers will want to work with you by determining what you have learned from your past mistakes and how you have become a better prospective parent because of those incidents.

Driving under the influence of alcohol or marijuana possession are examples of crimes occurring in your past that can still result in an approved home study, as long as you prove that you cooperated with the legal process. This is done by submitting to the home study provider court and arrest reports, any kind of probation documentation, and a personal statement explaining exactly what happened in the situation. In these instances, home study providers will often require you to complete a drug and alcohol assessment or psychological evaluation to show that these substances are no longer a problem.

Child abuse and domestic violence are examples of crimes that often result in an automatic home study disqualification, for obvious reasons. Remember that the most important thing is simply to be completely honest and forthcoming about your past transgressions. Full-disclosure is essential because the failure to be up-front about your past transgressions produces additional questions in the home study provider’s mind as to what else you may be hiding, often resulting in an automatic unqualified home study. Again, a home study provider would not want to disqualify you because of your past; he or she would much rather see how you have matured since those mistakes. Being honest with the home study provider will show that you have nothing to hide and that your past is just that - the past.

return to top

Q. I'm a single-parent; can I be approved for a home study?

A. Yes, you can be approved for a home study, but there are two caveats. First, you must live in a state that allows single-parent adoptions, and you must also finalize in a state that allows single-parent adoptions. Secondly, some agencies in single-parent-approved states will only perform home studies for two-parent homes.

As far as the home study process itself, it is almost identical to that of a two-parent home. The home study provider performs all of the same background checks, collects the same medical records and financial documents, interviews the adoptive parents and tours the home just as he or she would in a two-parent home.

Similarly to that of a two-parent home but perhaps more importantly in a one-parent home is that the home study provider has to be extra certain that the lone adoptive parent’s income is enough to support a child. Also, the home study social worker interviews the adoptive parent extensively but must ask questions associated with the absence of a mother or father in the child’s life.

Being able to find someone to complete the home study and being able to actually have the home study approved by a child placing agency are where the complications might arise, rather than in the home study process itself.

return to top

Q. I'm in a same-sex relationship; can I be approved for a home study?

A. Home studies for same-sex couples are conducted as single-parent home studies, and include the same two challenges: First, you must live in a state that allows single-parent adoptions, and you must also finalize in a state that allows single-parent adoptions. Secondly, some agencies in single-parent-approved states will only perform home studies for two-parent homes.

In same-sex couple home studies, the partner is noted as another household member and must go through all the required criminal background clearances, medical checks and interviews. His or her role in the raising of the child will also be analyzed.

The home study is conducted as if one of the partners is the sole adoptive parent. Then, after the home study and adoption process have been completed, some states allow for the other partner to also legally adopt the child.

return to top

Q. We are a military family; is the home study process different?

A. The home study process is exactly the same for military families living domestically. For military families living abroad, the home study social worker conducts the home study in compliance with the adoptive family’s home state’s laws, and the family must complete criminal background checks in their home state and the country in which they are currently residing.

The only possible difference for military families domestically and internationally is that they may need to receive additional state background checks under The Adam Walsh Act, which requires child abuse, child neglect and criminal background clearances for each state in which a family has lived for the past 5 to 10 years, depending on their home state’s laws.

return to top

Q. We live in a country besides the United States; is the home study process different?

A. Depending on the country you live in, your home study could be slightly or very different than one performed domestically. Each country conducts home studies differently, and many countries' governments perform the home studies. The same core elements of the home study process are usually represented, but the process usually takes longer than a home study conducted in the United States. Also, to adopt from a Hague-accredited country, you must have a Hague-accredited home study provider perform the home study.

return to top

Q. What are some common myths and concerns associated with the home study process?

A. When first thinking about the in-home visit portion of the adoption home study, many families envision an outsider snooping through every cabinet and drawer and performing the "white glove treatment" on all countertops, hoping to uncover anything with which to indict the adoptive family. This simply is not true. The home study social worker is on your team and wants nothing more than to facilitate the placement of a child in your home.

In the early stages of the adoption process, it is easy for the adoptive family to view the home study social worker as a foe or an intruder, but those feelings often change after the initial telephone call with the home study social worker. During the home study, the social worker is your ally, whom you can ask any question to guarantee your home and your family is ready for the child.

The home study social worker has two main goals during the in-home visit. The first goal is to ensure that the home is safe for the child, and the second is to make sure the family is mentally and emotionally stable, and is well educated in the adoption process and parenting. The first goal is accomplished by the home study provider conducting criminal and child abuse background checks in accordance with your state, as well as by collecting medical and financial records, and performing the home tour and interview processes. The second goal is also completed during both the individual and couple’s interviews.

When both goals are realized, you will be on your way to receive your child.

return to top

Q. Should I childproof my home before the home study visit?

A. No, it is not necessary to childproof the home prior to the in-home visit. Adoption home study laws in your state will dictate required childproofing that must be completed, which will be expressed to the family by the home study social worker during the first in-home visit.

Furthermore, the home study social worker may or may not have additional individual or agency childproofing requirements of the home for the safety of the child. Upon the first in-home visit the area of concerns (fencing around pools, screens on windows) are explained to the adoptive family in detail and time will be given, before the home study is completed, to fix all areas of the home that could be dangerous for a child and those not in compliance with the state laws.

The childproofing that most families think of, such as locks on cabinets and gates on stairs, is typically performed during the post-placement visits. The home study social worker may also suggest the childproofing of additional areas of your home, such as padding on problematic edges and locks on cabinets and drawers.

Also, during the in-home visits, you do not have to have the baby’s room ready. The home study social worker will make sure you have an appropriate room and other necessities during the post-placement visits.

return to top

Q. Does my home have to be spotlessly clean for my home study to be approved?

A. This is a common misconception about the in-home visit portion of the home study process. Your home should appear organized, uncluttered and generally clean for the home study, but your home study provider will not disqualify you if your house has a dusty fireplace, a bit of grime in the shower or an unorganized sock drawer. Home study providers are more interested in making sure the home is sanitary, not immaculate.

return to top

Q. How are pets involved in the home study process?

A. Household pets must be non-aggressive toward children and must have updated vaccinations to be approved by the home study provider. They are always documented in the home study report.

return to top

Q. Do we need to prepare our house before the home study when intending to adopt a special needs child?

A. No, but many home study providers require that you and your family members attend classes to prepare for the parenting of a special needs child.

The home study provider wants to ensure that everyone in your family, of appropriate age, is capable of providing for the child’s needs. If the child is going to need a personal care-provider, the home study provider will want to see if you or your spouse is going to be that care-provider during the day, or if you will be able to hire one.

During the interview process, you will be questioned about your knowledge of the specific needs of a child you are open to adopting and how you have educated yourself about it. The home study social worker may identify additional areas in which to educate yourself, and may suggest additional means of training to further ensure you will successfully care for the child’s special needs.

return to top

Q. Can a home study be denied?

A. Yes, a home study can be denied, but it is typically rare for a family to be denied outside of criminal background checks, health concerns or lack of finances. Adoptive parents who have a past with drugs and alcohol may be required to receive a drug and alcohol assessment or psychological evaluation, and if they refuse to cooperate, they will often be denied.

Full disclosure is essential to the qualification of a home study, because anything that the adoptive family is not truthful about could be grounds for the denial of the home study.

Families will usually have several opportunities to fix any concerns that the home study provider may have with the home itself. A lack of effort in amending these issues can also lead to a denied home study.

return to top

Q. If the home study is denied, what are my options?

A. The home study provider will usually send the adoptive family a letter stating their home study was denied, but it will not explicitly state the reason for the negative outcome. From assessments made during the in-home visits, families should have a good indication as to why they were denied.

Additionally, if the family tries to get a home study through a different home study provider, they must inform the provider that their previous attempt was denied.

return to top

Copyright ©2000-2018 1.800 Homestudy, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Home | Company Info | Legal/Copyright | Privacy Statement