A Comprehensive Guide to Adoption Home Studies

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As you begin your adoption journey, one of your first steps will be completing a home study. In this blog post, we will explore the different types of adoption home studies, namely domestic infant, international, and adoption from foster care. While each type has its unique aspects, certain elements remain consistent.  

The Basics: What is a Home Study? 

All home studies prioritize the well-being and best interests of the child, ensuring they are placed in a loving and stable environment. The home study encompasses both the assessment process that prospective adoptive parents must undergo in order to be approved for adoption, as well as the resulting written report. Families will be required to participate in multiple interviews, with at least one in-home visit and safety inspection.  

The length of the finalized home study report typically ranges from 7 to 15 pages and concludes with a recommendation section. Families are given the opportunity to review the report prior to finalization. Placing agencies will also be provided a draft to ensure all requirements are met. 

The overall duration of the home study process typically spans between 3 to 6 months. The timeline is influenced by factors such as the prompt submission of required paperwork and the completion of necessary training by prospective adoptive parents.  

Paperwork: 

It is not uncommon for families to feel apprehensive about the paperwork involved in the home study process. While it may seem like a daunting task, these documents are an integral part of the home study. This includes criminal background checks, medical examinations, financial assessments, and references from both relatives and close friends. These essential documents and information are carefully compiled and incorporated into the comprehensive home study report.  

Training: 

Training plays a vital role in preparing prospective adoptive parents for the journey ahead. It equips them with the knowledge, skills, and understanding necessary to navigate the complexities of adoption and meet the needs of their future child.  

Trainings cover a wide range of topics, including attachment and bonding, trauma-informed parenting, transracial adoption, relationships with birth parents, and parenting strategies specific to adopted children. Requirements will vary depending on the program, but all prospective adoptive parents can expect to take a minimum of ten hours. Training requirements must be met before the home study visit. 

The following are some of the requirements and procedures that are unique to each program: 

  1. Domestic Infant Adoption: The training component of domestic infant adoption will focus on relationships with birth family, prenatal substance exposure, transracial adoption, talking with children about adoption, and basic childcare. The home study will include the prospective adoptive parents’ openness to various factors in adoption, including age, gender, race/ethnicity, family health history, and prenatal substance exposure.  
  • Families can begin working on their profile books during this process, as well as registering with other placing agencies, if applicable. 
  1. International Home Study: Training for international adoption will focus on medical, emotional, and developmental issues common to children adopted internationally, grief and loss, transracial/cultural considerations, and attachment.  
  • Every country has specific requirements for the content and criteria that must be included in the home study. ACI works closely with placing agencies to ensure the home study fulfills the standards of the country of adoption and USCIS. 
  1. Foster Care: Families seeking to adopt from the foster care system must complete PRIDE training through the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services in addition to ACI training requirements. While completing the home study process, families will also be working towards obtaining a Foster Family Home License.  

The adoption home study is a crucial step in the adoption process, designed to assess the readiness and suitability of prospective adoptive parents to provide a safe and loving home for a child. By better understanding the home study purpose and process, you can prepare to take this crucial first step in making adoption a reality.  

If you’re ready to start the home study process, you can read more about our services and start your application on our domestic home study programs page.

Additional Resources: 

ACI Blog: How to Prepare for an Adoption Home Study 

07.11.23 by Teresa Bernu, ACI Associate Director
Teresa Bernu

Teresa Bernu serves as the Associate Director at ACI, bringing with her over 13 years of experience in the child welfare field. Throughout her career, she has dealt with a wide range of cases, including domestic infant adoption, foster care, and guardianship. Prior to her current role, Teresa worked as the DCFS Post Adoption & Guardianship Liaison at the Cook County Juvenile Court, where she handled legal matters involving families who adopted through the foster care system. As supervisor of the Home Study Workers at ACI, she enjoys collaborating on cases and working with the ACI team to help bring families together through adoption.