AdoptUSKids For Families

Completing an Adoption Home Study


A home study is conducted after you have completed your pre-service training classes and application to foster or adopt. This is because you will have a better understanding about the characteristics of children you are able to successfully parent after the first two steps of deciding to pursue adoption and applying to adopt.

The home study is a written document your caseworker writes about your family and includes basic information drawn from interviews with your family and information provided by third parties. Generally, a home study includes:

  • Family background, statements, and references
  • Education and employment
  • Relationships and social life
  • Daily life routines
  • Parenting experiences
  • Details about your home and neighborhood
  • Readiness and reasons about your wanting to adopt
  • Approval and recommendation of children your family can best parent

The home study process, which can take between three to six months to complete, 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.

Watch Video: The Home Study

If you have questions or concerns about the home study process, watch this short video by the Children’s Action Network answering basic questions about completing a home study.

Child Welfare Information Gateway also has two resources that can help you:

If these two resources and the video above do not answer your questions, you can always contact us.


What You Need to Do

Ready to take the next step?

Typically, the above steps conclude with a written home study report that reflects your caseworker's findings and is the final step for getting approved to adopt.


Get Agreement Among Your Family to Proceed


Interviews done in association with the home study will be a self-reflective process where you may learn things about yourself and the dynamics of your family. Both joint and individual interviews are often part of the process and may include children who currently live with you or those who live outside the home. It’s important that everyone who is a part of your family is ready for this experience, including yourself. If you feel that you or members of your household are not yet ready for a home study, you can ask to delay this step.


Be Prepared for Any Associated
Home Study Costs


Sometimes public agencies may charge an up-front, nominal fee for adoption home studies. However, this fee is often reimbursable after you have adopted a child from foster care.

If you’re working with a private agency or certified social worker in a private practice, the cost of an adoption home study can be anywhere between $1,000 to $3,000. This fee sometimes includes additional pre-placement services such as an application fee and required training. Some or all of your out-of-pocket costs may be reimbursable if the services result in the finalized adoption of a child from foster care, so you should keep records and receipts of all of your expenditures.  Be sure to discuss any fees thoroughly and ask for information in writing to avoid any misunderstandings.

If you’re looking only to foster, it is very unlikely you will be charged a home study fee by a public or private agency unless it’s a foster-to-adopt home study, in which case adoption home study fees may apply.

In general, even when you make up-front, out-of-pocket expenditures, most adoptions from foster care are free, and many children in foster care are eligible for ongoing monthly subsidies after they’re adopted. If cost is of a concern to you, find out more about post-adoption resources that could be available to you if you adopt a child from foster care.


Cooperate With Home Visits and
Requests for Information


You can help speed up the home study process by ensuring all necessary information is supplied completely and accurately, and that you don’t delay filling out paperwork, scheduling medical appointments, or gathering the required documents.

Things to Have Ready or Be Prepared to Get

  • Health Report: A physical exam within the past 12 months is required for all prospective parents, and tuberculosis (TB) tests are required for every member of the household. Medical conditions under control such as high blood pressure or diabetes usually don’t prevent being approved to foster or adopt. However, a serious health problem that affects life expectancy might.  If you have serious health problems, it may be required for you to think through or actually make a legal plan for assuring your adopted child will continue to be cared for in the unfortunate circumstance that you would die before they reach adulthood.
  • Criminal Background Check: All adults in the household must complete forms that are sent to child protective services and a State’s police check center. Federal Bureau of Investigation fingerprint checks in addition to local police clearances are required under certain circumstances, such as recent relocation to the State where you currently reside. Applicants whose State or federal records indicate they have been convicted of harming children cannot adopt or foster.
  • Financial Statement: You will be asked to list the amount of your family's income. Some States may require a copy of an income tax form, a paycheck stub, or a W-2 form. You don’t have to be wealthy or own a home to adopt. Even if you receive some type of assistance, you’re eligible to adopt as long as you have adequate resources to provide for your family. Financial assistance in the form of subsidies is often available when adopting children with special needs. Find out about post-adoption resources that could be available to you if you adopt a child from foster care.
  • Personal References: You will need to supply names, addresses, and phone numbers of three to four individuals who can attest to your experience with children, the stability of your current marriage or domestic partnership and household, and your emotional maturity. Most agencies require that references be people who are not related to you. Good choices might include close friends, an employer, a former teacher, a coworker, a neighbor, or a leader of your faith community.
  • Autobiographical Statement: Many adoption agencies will ask each applicant to write an autobiographical statement or story. This is, essentially, the story of your life. It helps your caseworker understand your family better and assists them with writing your home study. Some agencies have workers available to assist you, and most will have a set of questions to guide you in writing your statement.
  • Copies of legal documents: You will most likely be asked to provide copies of any applicable marriage licenses, birth certificates, divorce decrees, and other legal documents relevant to your application to foster or adopt. Depending on the agency you work with and the child you want to foster or adopt, this information could be shared with birth parents or others. If you have questions or concerns about the confidentiality of your information, verify with your agency how extensively it will be shared.

For more information about home studies, read Child Welfare Information Gateway’s factsheet for families on the home study process or contact us.


Ready to take the next step?

Typically, the above steps conclude with a written home study report that reflects your caseworker's findings and is the final step for getting approved to adopt.



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