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The Adoption Home Study Process

The law in Florida and all states require all prospective parents to participate in a home study. This process has three purposes:

Educate and prepare the adoptive family for adoption

Evaluate the fitness of the adoptive family

Gather information about the prospective parents that will help the social worker or agency connect the family with the baby or child whose needs they can meet. Example: Special needs, child of different culture, older child placement, sibling group

With information about the process, prospective parents can face the home study experience with confidence and the excitement that should accompany the prospect of welcoming a child into the family. The agency is looking for a good match between the child’s needs and a family that can meet those needs.
Background Checks
All States require criminal and child abuse record checks for adoptive families and foster families. State, Federal and Fingerprints are required.

Affidavit of Moral Character is also required to adopt through our agency.
Health Statements
You must have a recent physical exam and a statement from a physician confirming that you and your family members are healthy, have a normal life expectancy, and are physically and mentally able to care for a child. All members in the household have to complete this physical

If you have a medical condition that is under a doctor supervision and that is under control (eg. High blood pressure, diabetes) you may still be approved by the agency. A serious health problem that affects life expectancy may prevent approval from the agency.

Everyone over the age of 18 in the household must be CPR certified. We recommend that all children over the age of 12 participate in this class as well, but not required.
Income Statements
You do not have to be rich to adopt. You do however have to show that you can manage your finances responsibly and adequately. Prospective parents are asked to verify their income by providing copies of paycheck stubs, W-4 forms, or income tax forms. Savings, checking, investments and all debt have to be disclosed. Health insurance policies for the adoptive child has to be provided, and life insurance on the prospective parents.
References
The Agency will ask you for names, address, telephone numbers, and email address of four people who will be references for you and your spouse. The reference should be people who have known you for at least several years and who have seen you in many situations, and who have visited your home and know your involvement with children.

Close friends, employer, coworker, neighbor or your pastors are good choices.
Interviews
You will be interviewed several times by your social worker. The agency will interview the couple together on phone, office and also both in their home. If there are children in the home, they will be part of the interview as well.

You will be asked to give examples of your experience with children, your relationships, your approach to parenting and how you handle stress and past experiences of crisis or loss, including discussions about infertility, which a topic of concern for many adoptive families.

You and your social worker will discuss what age of child would best fit in your family, whether a sibling group would work well and other important characteristics you would be willing to accept in a child. You will discuss different races and cultures to see what fits best for your family.

You will be asked about your strengths and weakness
Home Visit
Home visits serve to ensure that your home offers a safe environment for a child and meets State licensing standards (e.g. Working smoke alarms, safe water, pools covered/fenced, and adequate space for each child) Your home should be free from hazards and offer a child-friendly environment for the age range for which you are being approved for. Example, poisons and household cleaners should be in cupboards with childproof locks window drape cords should not hang within reach,

The agency will require the social worker to view all areas of the house or apartment, including where the child will sleep and the backyard. She will want to see how you are planning on accommodating a new family member. Social workers are not there to inspect your housekeeping standards. A comfortable, child-friendly environment is what is being sought.
Training
Many agencies require trainings for prospective adoptive parents prior to or during home study process. All families have to be CPR certified and have 8 hours of training. These training that the agency will require will also prepare the family to better understand the needs of children waiting for children, adoption issues, and agency requirements. This can also help the family decide what type of child they could parent more effectively.
Statement of Faith
If the family is adopting through Bundle of Hope Adoption n Family Services they will have to sign a Statement of Faith and their pastor or minister will have to sign a Statement of Faith as well. The forms can be located on the website.
The Home Study Report
The above steps conclude with the writing of a home study report that reflects the social workers findings. Home Study reports often are used to introduce your family to other agencies or adoption exchanges to assist in matching your family with a child.

In addition to the above health and income statements, background checks, and references, home study reports also include the following types of information:
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Family background: Descriptions of the applicants childhood, how they were parented, past and current relationships with parents and siblings, key events and losses and what was learned from them
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Education / Employment: Applicants current educational levels, satisfaction with their educational achievements, any plans to further education, as well as their employment status, history, plans and satisfaction with their current job and career.
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Relationships: History together as a married couple. How do you resolve conflict, make decisions, communicate, and show affections, finances, and how you will continue growing your relationship with adding another family member.
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Daily Life: Your daily routine, how having a child will change this routine, working outside the home or staying home with the child. Hobbies, interest and how this will change with a new baby in the home.
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Religion: What church they attend, how often and ways they serve in the church. Make sure that they and their pastor can sigh a statement of faith with the agency
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Neighborhood: descriptions of the applicants neighborhood, including safety and proximity to community recourses
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Parenting: applicants past experiences with children (for example, their own, relatives’ children,) In addition to their plans regarding discipline and other parenting issues
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Readiness for Adoption: The social worker will ask you why you are wanting to adopt, feelings about infertility, what kind of child they are wanting to parent and why, How will they tell their children they are adopted and what age?

You will be asked how you feel about the birth mothers level of openness.. or ask you what you feel comfortable with.
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Approval / Recommendation: The Home Study report will conclude with a summary an the social worker’s recommendation.. The social worker will recommend the age range, number of children, race, and if the family would be a family that would be approved for a child with special needs or medical issues and to what degree.

Common Questions About
the Home Study Process

How long will the Home Study take?
On an average the Home Study process 3 to 4 months to complete. You can help the process go quicker by completing your paperwork, scheduling your appointments for clearances, and exams, and gathering the required documents to the agency in a timely manner.
How much does a Home Study cost?
Our Home Studies are $1200.00
Post Placements are $300.00 each home visit
(BOH requires one home visit and contact monthly until finalization)
Updated Home Study within 2 years with BOH clients $800.00

Other Agencies through other private practice can be from $1000.00 to $3000.00 for home Study and post placements vary.
What might disqualify us from adopting?
A criminal record or safety concerns would keep you from being approved from adopting.
The decision to disqualify a family is made on a case-by-case basis.
How will the children in our family be involved in the home study?
Your children will be included in the home study in some way; older children may be asked to participate in some of the educational sessions. Bundle of Hope encourages all children over 10 to be included in the CPR classes. The kids will be asked to write a statement describing their feelings and preferences about having a new sibling.

The social worker will want to know how the children do in school, interest, hobbies, their friends. The social will want to be sure that an adopted will be welcomed and loved by all the family members.

Conclusions

Although the adoption home study process seems to be lengthy and invasive, it is conducted to prepare your family for adoption. It will help your family to determine the type of child you could best parent. This process helps you ensure that the child or children you are matched with needs will be met in a loving, caring, healthy and safe environment.
For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, "Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:11
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