Home Study Approved: What does that mean?
You may have seen a home study approved badge on our waiting adoptive family pages. This home study approved badge means that the family has done everything they need to and they are ready to adopt.
Anyone who wants to adopt a baby or child, needs to complete something called a “home study”. It isn’t really about their home that much, but more about who they are and if they are truly ready and safe to bring a child into their home.
A home study is usually conducted by a social worker who has been trained or certified by the state as someone qualified to gather and review all the information. This person then writes the home study report and if everything is in order, the family is considered home study approved and ready to adopt. Once a family brings a baby or child home, the same social worker will come and visit monthly for a while to ensure everything is as it should be.
Here are some of the components that go into our Home Study Approved status:
People wanting to adopt must have thorough background checks that include federal (FBI), state, and local criminal record and child abuse reports. These are gathered initially and are collected or updated at regular intervals to insure nothing has popped up since the last report was run. To obtain a home study approved status, these must be produced not just for the parents, but for every adult living in the home.
Families are required to get a certification from their doctor that they are healthy and have a normal life expectancy. Any health challenges in their history will need to be addressed and included in the home study report. All people, even children in the home, will need a health certification and it will need to be updated annually like the background checks to retain the home study approved status.
Part of the social worker’s assessment is confirming that the family has the ability to provide for an additional child now and in the future. Tax returns and financial reports will be produced as well as discussions about any debt. Confirmations that they are financially sound is an important part of this report.
Health and Life Insurance
Information is gathered about the family’s medical and dental insurance, as well as any life insurance policies in place to provide should something unforeseen arise. The social worker wants to ensure that the child is provided for in all ways, especially medically.
Home and Safety
A home inspection is part of the home study approved process, and the social worker will inspect all areas of the home, including attics and basements, closets, backyards, and more. She is looking for safety hazards or any conditions that are unsafe or unhealthy for a child. She will advise the family on babyproofing a home and ensuring things like pool safety gates and alarms are installed.
Dogs, Cats, and Other Animals
Pets are included in the home study approved process as well. Families will need to ensure the animal is up-to-date on immunizations and that any issues are addressed. The social worker will collect these records and require annual updates if needed, or certifications on new pets added to the family.
The social worker will interview each parent separately and together. She will discuss how they were raised, their relationships, their work, their parenting styles, discipline plans and more. These are detailed in her report and used as she evaluates if they are ready and suitable to be approved for adoption.
Parenting and Adoption Education
One of the biggest parts of the home study approved process is ensuring that the family receives education about parenting a child, especially parenting an adopted child. They must take classes to understand the value and importance of open adoption and sharing the child’s story with them. Many states require CPR classes and general parenting skills.
After the social worker has gathered all these pieces, she will write up a detailed report, called the “Home Study Report.” It is usually about 10-20 pages summarizing the family in all these areas and discussing their suitability for adoption. If she has any concerns, she may require the family pursue counseling or advanced education prior to approving them. Or, she may not approve them to adopt.
Once the report is complete and the home study report is approved and submitted, it is reviewed in full by a Lifetime Adoption coordinator who is trained in adoption competency. Once that review process is complete and meets Lifetime’s rigorous requirements, the family is considered Home Study Approved and we will indicate they are ready to adopt by putting the badge on their web listing.
Q&A About the Home Study Approved Badge
At Lifetime Adoption, we require these home study reports to be updated and current at all times. Here are a few questions some women ask about these Home Study Approved badges:
I’ve found a family I like but they don’t have the Home Study Approved badge. Can they still adopt my baby?
When you see a family without the badge, it may mean they are not quite finished with their home study or it is being updated. Home studies need annual updates or minor updates when a family moves, changes jobs, adds a pet, or has an adult like a parent move in with them. Sometimes there may be delays in receiving updated background checks due to COVID or other circumstances that delay receipt.
Prior to your child being born (or being placed with them if it is an older child), the home study report will need to be completed. When already in progress, the report can usually be completed rather quickly, especially if the outstanding items are simply updated medical or background checks.
How do I know that the adoptive parents I choose are safe?
When you see that “Home Study Approved” badge, you can rest assured knowing that the family has completed all of the items listed here and more! The home study report produces the background verification that the social worker needs to verify that the family is ready to provide a safe and loving home. The best thing to do is build a relationship with the family and get to know them. Ask them hard questions if you wish and make a plan to meet up prior to the adoption. Plan to stay in touch with them and your child in the future. And go with your gut. Adoptive families have to go through a lot of screening to be approved to adopt and earn your trust.
If I decide to do adoption with a friend or family member, do they have to do a home study?
Yes, most states require that a home study report is complete for any adoption, including private adoptive placements between friends or family members. Remember, this is to confirm that the home and family will be safe, stable, and nurturing for a child brought into the family through adoption. Even though you think you know them, you may not know about their criminal background, financial savings, home conditions, or other adults who may be living with them. Part of making a responsible adoption plan is ensuring the family you place your child with has completed this important aspect, for the child’s sake.
Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P.
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