Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Adoption 201 (The Home Study)

All adoptive families, whether their adoption will be domestic or international, have to have a home study. The laws regarding how a home study is performed are governed by the states. Home study agencies may also have their own set of rules to follow.

The purpose of the home study is to "weed out" those people who clearly should not be parents and to educate the majority who should. The home study process gives the adoptive parents (and children if there are already children in the family) a chance to think and talk through issues related to general parenting and those issues specific to adoption and the type of adoption the family is considering. For example, the family will be asked, in the case of an international adoption, how they intend to keep the child's birth culture as a part of his/her life and, in the case of a trans-racial adoption, how they intend to handle intrustive and sometimes rude questions about their child's physical features. Education on these issues is provided as well.

A home study is performed by a licensed social worker. The agency used for the home study does not need to be the same agency used for child referral and placement, although one could use the same agency for both portions of the process.

We used Creative Adoptions in Columbia, MD, for our homestudy and our social worker's name is Henrietta. Before meeting with Henrietta, we had to compile a number of documents so that she would know what types of things we would need to spend extra time discussing. Below is what we had to get before meeting with Henrietta:

  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage Certificate
  • Physician Reports
  • Home Sanitation Inspection
  • Home Fire Safety Inspection
  • Three letters of reference
  • Employment reference letters
  • Financial statements with verification of income
  • Written plan to provide space in home for children
  • State and federal criminal background checks (2 sets of fingerprints)
  • Child abuse and neglect clearances
  • Child support payment clearances
  • Driving records

After completing that list of items, we met with Henrietta on 2 occasions in our home. We discussed our marriage relationship and our families of origin. We also discussed our parenting philosophy and the Maryland child discipline regulations. Those visits each lasted approximately 2 hours. Part of that time we met with her separately and part of the time we all met together.

Before our homestudy was released to us, we had to provide the following documents to Creative Adoptions:

  • Previous year's IRS 1040
  • Health and life insurance information stating coverage
  • Proof of rabies vaccination of our cat

Last week our homestudy report was written in draft form and approved by our placing agency, World Partners Adoption. We will receive a final, notarized copy that we will send to Guatemala with our dossier. Further information on our dossier will be presented in another post. Stay tuned!

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