Surviving the homestudy
By Lucia Moses
Regardless of where you live or where you plan to adopt, you'll need to complete a homestudy. This is a document that contains the story of your life: your family and marital history, your health, your financial situation. It includes a description of your home and neighborhood, as well as personal references and discussion of any health concerns or criminal record. It also details your family relationships and your feelings about adoption, parenting, and infertility, if applicable.
If the thought of opening up your life to a stranger makes you squeamish, you're not alone. People often worry that they will be found ineligible to adopt. In reality, it's rare for a homestudy to end with a negative recommendation. While the process may seem invasive, remember that the goal is to make sure children are placed in homes where they'll be loved and protected. Use the homestudy process to educate yourself about adoption.
In general, the homestudy is a social worker's written evaluation, based on interviews with you during at least one visit to the home. If you use a lawyer to adopt independently, you will probably use an agency or an independent, state-licensed social worker for the homestudy. If you adopt internationally via an agency in a state other than your own, you will have to use a homestudy agency or professional who is licensed in your home state.
The homestudy can cost from $750 to $3,000. Agencies sometimes ask applicants to attend group education meetings, in addition to submitting to interviews, and to fill out questionnaires or provide an autobiographical statement.
Each homestudy includes a home visit. While the social worker will want to know how you plan to accommodate a new arrival, your home doesn't have to be child-proofed, with a furnished nursery, when a social worker comes to visit. Nor do you need to have a separate bedroom for a baby or for each child.
If you have a medical, financial, or prior arrest record that you fear might result in an unfavorable homestudy, experts advise that you don't wait to mention it. If you plan to adopt internationally, your social worker can steer you to a country that is more likely to be accepting, and can address your situation in the homestudy in a way that's consistent with the country's cultural values and requirements.
While each situation is different, some general guidelines apply to these common concerns of adopters:
• Conviction record: Misdemeanors stemming from youthful indiscretions usually aren't held against prospective adopters, although a social worker will want to know if your past behavior is just that. If you have a DUI on your record, for instance, she'll ask if you went through a rehabilitation program and what your current drinking habits are. If you have committed a felony, the U.S. government won't approve you to adopt internationally, and you might have trouble finding a domestic agency to accept you.
• Health problems or disabilities: An agency will want to know that you can care for a child long-term. If your condition is under control, you may be approved to adopt. If you're in the middle of medical treatment or have a condition that threatens your life expectancy, you may be prevented from adopting. .
• Financial problems: You don't need to be rich to adopt. But a history of bankruptcy, high debt, and failure to pay child support may be cause for denial.
Lucia Moses is the adoptive mother of two. She lives with her family in New York.
Back To Home Page©2013 Adoptive Families. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited.