Are you ready to grow your family? The adoption process can feel a little overwhelming at times—and staying on top of all the logistics can be a challenge. Here at the Datz Foundation of North Carolina, our top priority is helping ensure all of the bases are covered quickly and with as little room for error as possible, starting with your pre-placement assessment.
What is an adoption home study?
A home study is a required pre-placement assessment of the adoptive parents. Home studies provide a basic overview of your life, including criminal background, finances, personal relationships, and the suitability of your house. Essentially, this home study creates a guidebook for a successful adoption by advising the court whether an adoption should be allowed while also ensuring the court has everything they need to make an informed decision. The phrases “adoption home study” and “pre-placement assessment” both refer to this initial basic overview and completing a home study is a required step in the adoption process.
The goal of the pre-placement assessment is not to prove that you are perfect but instead determine if you and your family have the ability to meet the needs of an adopted child. It covers family background, education and employment, personal relationships, daily life, parenting ability, support systems, readiness for adoption, and even safety of the neighborhood.
Home studies must be performed by a trusted, licensed, child-placing agency who can provide an honest assessment of your suitability to parent and provide for a child in need. Because this is a requirement of any adoption, who you work with and the process they use is essential.
What does a home study involve?
Though a necessary part of the process, it’s normal for home studies to feel a bit invasive for prospective adoptive parents. While the process may differ slightly among agencies, most home studies involve a combination of the following:
- Information gathering. This beginning stage is an opportunity for you to learn more about the process while also giving your home study provider a chance to determine if there are any factors that may inhibit you from having a successful result. With the Datz Foundation of North Carolina, this process begins with a short-form questionnaire intended to provide us with a general overview of your circumstances and if there is anything that would prevent a favorable assessment. There is a small, non-refundable application fee for this intake form to help facilitate the beginning research process. If there are no red flags, clients will receive the full intake form and agreement. This first step is incredibly important in avoiding a situation where prospective parents have paid the full home study fee but have an easily identifiable road block in reaching a successful outcome.
- Orientation for the home study. Because home studies can be quite invasive and overwhelming, our team at Datz strives to keep parents in the loop from day one. We will make sure you know ahead of time what documentation you’ll need and how you can obtain it, what to expect during interviews, and how you can best prepare for home visits.
- Meeting your social worker & beginning interviews. Once you have become a client of Datz, our social worker will contact you to begin the process. Your social worker will become your confidant throughout this process as they begin getting to know you and your family and facilitating the adoption. Throughout the home study, it’s normal to go through a number of interviews with your social worker on topics ranging from your experience with children, your thoughts on parenting, and important relationships in your life to how you deal with crisis or what happened in your life to lead you to consider adoption. These interviews have two goals: they allow you to reflect on the important issues common in adoption and they help your social work begin crafting a case on your behalf. Because of this, it’s exceptionally important for you to be open and transparent about the strengths and challenges of your family.
- Gathering documentation. Home studies can be a lengthy process, due in large part to the documentation needed. Health statements, proof of employment, tax returns, background checks, fingerprint cards, and reference letters are just a sampling of documents that are needed to complete the study.
- The home visit. A home visit is designed to ensure your house is a safe environment for a child. This assessment includes looking for the basics, such as working smoke alarms, dangerous items stored properly, and safe water, in addition to ensuring there is sufficient space to introduce a new family member. Datz will make sure you are aware of all expectations and requirements ahead of time so there are no surprises on home visit day.
Once all the information has been gathered, your social worker will begin preparing the home study report. The resulting study is a private document that is filed in its original form with the court and given to the birth mother, if applicable.
If you’re feeling a little stressed or overwhelmed reading through the steps, that’s perfectly normal, and everyone you’re working with throughout the process understands and expects you to experience a little anxiety around the adoption and home study. Just remember that your social worker isn’t going to be examining your house with white gloves expecting a pristine home. As adoption professionals and, often, parents themselves, they know families can sometimes live in chaos—and that it’s okay. While you should absolutely prepare for your home study, your social worker will likely ignore dust bunnies in favor of making sure your space is family-friendly and a great place for a child to grow up happy and healthy.
Why you should work with Datz Foundation of North Carolina for your home study
The Datz Foundation of North Carolina is the only American Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys (AAAA) member-owned adoption agency in all of North Carolina. Owners Kelly Dempsey and Christopher M. Craig have over 30 years of combined adoption experience which they draw on to balance the legal, emotional, and financial parts of the adoption process for their clients. As fellows of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, Kelly and Chris strive to stay on the front lines of national trends in adoption—and their involvement in national advocacy and legislative reform help inform their home study and post-placement assessment process at Datz.
At the Datz Foundation of North Carolina, you will find a winning combination of compassion and expertise. We are constantly looking at our home study process to ensure we can help you have your home study without delay and focus on preparing for your life with your new family.
Contact us today for more information or to request your home study.