This is part two of our series “How to Successfully Adopt a Newborn” which focuses on the process of home studies and questions that may arise while you are preparing for your home study. For more information on adopting a newborn, read part one of the series, “Steps to Take When Adopting a Newborn.”
Home Study is the process of evaluation and education that is required by each state in order for you to be approved to adopt a child. A good home study will not only provide the professional/agency with the information they are required to obtain for the study, but it should also give you some tools to use during the adoption process. It should inform you about what can you expect the wait time to be and the feelings you may have during the adoption process. It should educate you about adoption, raising adopted children, meetings with expectant/birthparents, talking to your child, etc.
The Home Study is typically performed by a Licensed Independent Social Worker (LICSW) or with an adoption agency. The process of a home study includes a series of interviews and a visit to your home. You will also need to complete paper work including submitting documents such as, FBI fingerprint clearances, criminal background checks, medical reports from your doctors, and letters of reference. These documents will need to be kept up-to-date. There is a lot of paperwork generated for the home study but do not get overwhelmed with it. Just go through it step by step. Understand that you are taking emotional, financial and legal RISKS. Think about them and make sure you are willing to take the risks involved. Here are some things for you to think about and questions you can ask your home study provider:
- How long do you expect to be in this home study process?
- Do you need to put a “profile/letter” together so that expectant/birth parents can learn about you? If so, does the program assist you with this profile?
- How will you be shown to prospective expectant/birthparents?
- Get a pediatrician who will become your baby’s doctor to work along with you in this process. The pediatrician can look at prenatal records and help you understand them.
- Will you meet the expectant parent during the process, at birth or at all?
- What financial obligations will you have? Will you lose your finances if the birthparent does not choose adoption after the baby is born?
- Will you take a baby into your care BEFORE the legal papers allowing the adoption are signed? During a revocation period when a birthparent can change their mind? Before the birthfather is notified or has signed the consent to the adoption?
- Discuss how open of a relationship you would like with the birth parents in the years to come.
- How do birth parents come to work with the agency/attorney or will you need to work with another agency, attorney or facilitator to find birth parents and an appropriate match?
- What kind of services are provided to the birth parents and what will you be responsible for?
It is very important to remember that adoption can be an emotional rollercoaster for the prospective adoptive parents as well as for the birthparents. However, you will be successful in this process if you stick with it and take some calculated risks. Get back up if you get knocked down. Stretch a little in your requirements regarding the child you hope to adopt. Get support from those who love you.
Adoption is a positive and wonderful manner in which to build your family.