Preparing for Your Home Study

So you've scheduled your first home study visit! You're probably nervous and excited too. If you are like most adoptive parents, you're wondering what to expect.

To help you better prepare for the home study process, check out the ready reference list below. Although you may be asked for other items, you'll likely need to provide these things.

Written autobiography. The cornerstone of a home study is your own written description of your life--starting from when you were born! Most agencies provide guidelines or a format to use. During home study visits, you expand upon, clarify, or provide additional details or information related to what you wrote. You'll be asked to describe:

  • your parents, how you were raised, how you were disciplined, your past and current relationship with them, how they feel about your adoption interests

  • your siblings, your past and current relationship with them, how they feel about your adoption interests

  • your extended family, your past and current relationship with them, how they feel about your adoption interests

  • your education, what you enjoyed/disliked, future goals

  • your religious affiliation, current practices

  • your daily life and routines, weekend activities, vacations, holidays your job, career potential

  • your marriage (if applicable), how you met, what your courtship was like, what activities you enjoy together, how you resolve differences

  • if single, your support network, who will provide same sex role modeling, any significant personal relationships

  • your neighborhood or community, its suitability and safety for a child

  • your exposure or involvement with children in the past and present

  • your philosophy about discipline

  • why you want to adopt a child

  • how you have resolved feelings about (any) infertility

  • what counseling you have received related to infertility, adoption, or other

  • significant issues in your life

  • what kind of child you want to adopt and why

Tip: Be specific here. For instance, it's okay to say you want an Asian girl no more than 12 months old who has no physical, emotional, or psychological handicaps. Remember, though, your home study will reflect these very specific interests -- so if you receive a referral for a child who interests you but who does not meet the description outlined in the home study, you may not be able to accept the referral without adjusting your home study.

  • what kind of hopes and dreams you have for your child

  • plans for child care

  • desired or anticipated relationship with child's birthparents (if an option)

  • who will care for your child short-term if something happens to you; long-term if you die

Documents. Specific documents required vary slightly depending on where you live, whether you are doing an agency or nonagency adoption, or if you are adopting from another country. Your home study package will list all you'll need. Here's what you can expect to provide:

  • Birth certificate for you, your spouse, any children you already have

  • Marriage license or certificate; (any) divorce decree or death certificate from earlier marriages

  • Statement of salary or earnings (in US, copy of IRS Form 1040 and W-4 statement)

  • Financial statements detailing savings, investments, assets, retirement accounts, monthly expenses, debt obligations

  • Criminal record and any history of child abuse; information usually obtained from a state-level child welfare agency and/or police agency using a standardized form

Tip: You will need to provide original or notarized copies of various documents. If you cannot provide an original or notarized copy, you may be able to attach a notarized affidavit attesting to the validity of the document.


References. Letters from 3-5 people who know you about your capability to love and raise a child. You may not be able to pick just your "best friends." Instead, you could be directed to provide references from an assortment of individuals: neighbors, employers, co-workers, physicians, therapists, clergy, former teachers. Try to select people who have observed you with children, who have known you several years, who understand and/or are in favor of your adoption plans.

Tip: References serve to "round out" the interviewers perceptions of the adoptive family. Rarely are people rejected based on negative input from a reference alone.


Medical information. You need a current physical exam that attests to your ability to raise a child. Tests for tuberculosis, AIDS, hepatitis or other illnesses may be required. Sometimes, verification of infertility is required.

Tip: People with physical disabilities CAN adopt as long as their home study specifies how any disability will NOT be a hindrance to parenting. Medical conditions requiring regular care (such as diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure) usually are not a problem. Serious health problems significantly affecting life expectancy probably will disqualify you.


Input from your other children. Your other children--regardless of age--will be met and interviewed to discuss feelings about your adoption.

Whew! It's quite a list! And it is not as scary as you think. No need to bake bread or scrub your house before the social worker arrives! So now begin getting your documents together and thinking about how you'll answer so many questions. But most of all--rest assured that you're on your way.

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