You have made the exciting decision that you want to foster or adopt, now what? You may have heard that to become an approved foster or adoptive parent you have to go through the “homestudy process,” but what does this mean? For many prospective foster/adoptive parents this can cause some anxiety, but it doesn’t have to! Let’s walk through the process so that you can get an idea of what will be asked of you and your family.
A homestudy will be completed after you start the Pre-Service training (36 hours of training) and fill out an application to foster/adopt. The homestudy is a written document that a certified adoption assessor writes about your family and includes basic information drawn from interviews with your family and some information provided by third parties.
The home study process can take between three to six months to complete and you and your family will have several visits with your adoption assessor. It may seem invasive or lengthy, however, just remember more often than not, agencies are looking for ways to rule families in rather than rule them out. The home study is simply conducted to help you, and your agency, decide if adoption or foster care is right for you, and the type of child who will be the best match for your family.
So what is discussed during the homestudy process? Here are some examples of topics that are covered during the interview with your assessor:
- Relationship- If you are married or in a relationship questions will be asked about your relationship with your significant other. If you are single, questions will be asked about your dating life and previous relationships you may have had.
- Religious affiliation/ Spiritual Beliefs
- Family Finances- No, you don’t have to be rich to foster or adopt! We are simply looking that you can manage your finances responsibly and adequately and can sustain your household without a foster care per diem or adoption subsidy.
- Attitudes and Beliefs Regarding Foster Care/Adoption Issues
- Personal History
- Personal/Emotional Maturity, Stress Management, Interpersonal relationships, Openness in relationships, Ability to empathize, Motivation to foster/adopt, Understanding of Entitlement Issues, Ability to honor commitments, Parenting Skills and your Support System.
- If you have children or other adults living in your home, they will also be interviewed during the homestudy process
Along with the interview, the assessor will complete a “Safety Audit” of your home. They will need to view all areas of the house or apartment, including where the children will sleep, the basement, and the backyard. The assessor is looking that your home is a safe environment for children. A certain level of order is necessary, but some family clutter is expected! Remember that cleaning materials should be stored high up or with child safety locks, a fire extinguisher should be in the cooking area of your home, medication needs to be locked and emergency numbers and an evacuation plan need to be posted.
After the assessor is completed with the interviews and walk through (usually after 2-4 visits) they will write their assessment into the homestudy document and your family will be approved for foster care and/or adoption. Remember, that along with the interviews you also must complete a slew of paperwork and background checks for the agency so the interviews are not the only piece of the approval process.
The homestudy process may seem long or invasive, but remember that it is truly about learning! A time for you to learn more about the agency, foster care and adoption and a time for the agency to learn more about your family. It is also about deciding whether foster care and adoption are right for your family and the type of child that will fit best in your home.
Childwelfare.gov stated the following about the homestudy process and I think this rings true, “Flexibility and a sense of humor are vital characteristics when raising children, and they can be useful during the home study process as well. With perseverance and a positive outlook, you will be able to team with the social worker to make this a valuable learning experience—one that will help you do the best possible job in parenting the child who will eventually join your family.”
If you would like more information on the homestudy process, check out this fact sheet put together by Childwelfare.gov. and remember you can always call us with your questions; we would love to hear from you and are always looking for prospective foster/adoptive families!