A home study is a report that examines a family or individual in order to prepare them for adoption, and to ensure they are in an adequate position to bring a child or children into their home. Through personal interviews, worksheets, and various reports, a case worker is able to paint a picture of a family, and a projection of their readiness to adopt.
According to Kelly Barth, the home study verifies information that primarily pertains to finances, medical history, and criminal backgrounds.
Barth and business partner Tonya Boggs are the executive directors of Options 4 Adoption, a licensed child placing agency that prepares home study reports.
Barth goes on to explain that in addition to determining suitability, the home study report also provides the agency an opportunity to educate families in areas related to the adoption process.
Home study requirements can vary by state, but the core requirements are the same for all states. The country from which the family is adopting may also have additional requirements, such as parenting classes. While not a standard requirement for domestic adoptions by Georgia families, some countries will require this. Additionally, Hague convention countries require adoptive families to complete 10 hours of online training.
Financially speaking, the cost of a home study can vary as well, even within a given state. In Georgia, the average seems to be $1500 – $1800.
The time required to complete a home study can also vary. The average turnaround time is 3 – 4 weeks, though Options 4 Adoption has been able to complete the study in a more condensed time period in special cases.
Teresa Grimes and her husband approached Options 4 Adoption with one of those ‘special cases’. Grimes speaks highly of the Options 4 Adoption staff and their willingness to speed up the process to meet certain critical deadlines.
Grimes is a metro Atlanta wife and mother, one who has been through the adoption process 4 times. Adopting twice internationally and twice domestically, her most recent adoption included a home study completed by Options 4 Adoption staff.
A strong advocate for adoption and orphan care, Grimes seeks to encourage families as they enter into the home study process. She believes it is beneficial to approach it as a learning experience. Rather than being intimidated by all that is involved, look at the case worker as a partner in the process.
Grimes urges families to use the time with the case worker to ask questions and look for ways to better understand how to approach adoption-related issues. She explains that the home study is not necessarily a time when a stranger seeks to examine and scrutinize every square inch of your living space. Instead, it should be an opportunity to gain a better understanding of adoption, and of how your own family fits into the adoption picture.
Options 4 Adoption suggests that families working on their home study tackle one item at a time, but also avoid letting the overall process drag out over a long period of time. Many forms are time sensitive and will be rejected if they are too old. So getting all of the tasks completed within a smaller window of time just might help to avoid headaches down the road.