What Happens At An Adoption Home Study?

The adoption process can be complex and there may be many steps before an adoption is finalized. One important step is the home study, which is generally required unless the individual is a step-parent, grandparent, or another family member of the child.

The idea of a home study can be nerve-wracking for anyone. However, it is important to realize that home studies do not have to be so stressful and the guidance of an experienced adoption attorney can help to make sure the home visit runs smoothly.

The Home Study Process

While a home study may seem to refer to one visit to a residence, it can actually be an investigative process during which a licensed social worker examines the suitability of the adoptive relationship.

This can involve many different factors, including medical conditions, potential criminal backgrounds, financial stability, as well as the home environment. After examining all relevant factors, the social worker will put together a report for the court to advocate for the adoption or cite reasons why the adoption may not be beneficial.

Most social workers will tell the adopter whether they are recommending them for certification or not before they file the report. To begin the process, many documents are needed including birth certificates, marriage licenses, medical records, background checks, financial records, and more.

Having the assistance of an adoption law firm can help to ensure that everything needed is present to make the home study process go as smoothly as possible.

Another important part of the home study is to have letters of reference submitted on the adopter’s behalf. It is important to carefully consider who should furnish these letters, as they should be genuine and honest.

These letters should address how well the writer knows the adopter, discuss their general character, whether they believe the individuals in question should be adoptive parents, and any doubts they may have as to their suitability.

While these letters can be brief, they can have an impact on the process. One should always discuss who is writing these letters of reference with an adoption attorney before having them submitted.

While much of the home study process involves examining records and letters, it also does involve a visit to the actual home. Many people agonize over this visit and think any small detail may disqualify them from being adoptive parents.

In fact, the home visit is to ensure that the child will be in a safe and stable environment on physical, emotional, and financial levels. Social workers should understand that no one is perfect so there is no need to present a perfect home environment.

Discussing how the visit will go with an attorney can help to relieve some of the stress associated with an upcoming visit. Your lawyer can also help you connect with a social worker who is professional, trustworthy, and who can be an advocate for you to become adoptive parents.

The Home Study Report

Arizona has specific requirements for what must be presented to the court in the home study report, which includes an assessment of the following:

● Social history

● Moral fitness

● Any religious background

● Financial situations

● Mental and physical health of the parents

● Any legal history involving mistreatment of children or certain criminal offenses

● Any other facts deemed relevant to the individual’s fitness as a parent

If the court finds an individual suitable to adopt based on the report, it will certify them as a prospective adoptive parent in Arizona.

In addition, after a child has been placed in your home, the social worker will need to visit and report on the adjustment to the home and other relevant factors. Such visits can take place every three months until the adoption is final.

Updating a Home Study Like many things in life, home studies have an expiration date, which is 18 months after you are certified in Arizona.

It can take time to find the right match for a family and our attorneys can help to apply for an extension or undergo another home study if needed.

In addition, if there are any major life changes before an adoption is final, it is important to report them as an update to the home study.

Contact an Experienced Arizona Adoption Attorney Today

The home study is only one part of your journey to becoming an adoptive parent.

At Stuart & Blackwell, we have represented many prospective parents through this process and can help reduce the stress you experience when facing a home study.

If you are considering adoption, please call us at (480) 409-3630 today.

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