Frequently Asked Questions
What is a home study?
A home study is an evaluation written by a licensed adoption agency, regarding the suitability of single people or married couples to become adoptive parents. This evaluation process includes interviews with the prospective adoptive parents, obtaining documentation verifying birth, marriage and divorce of the adoptive parents, criminal clearances, and child abuse registry clearances, verification of employment, reference letters, physician's report, and any other background information needed to render a decision regarding suitability. It may also include information required by the country or state, where the adoption is to take place.
The home study is time for your social worker to help you prepare for adoptive parenthood, address issues unique to adoptive families and provide education about adoption. A home study typically can be about two-three months, depending on how quickly the family provides the needed information and how quickly clearances are returned by the law enforcement and Child Find.
What is Hague Accreditation?
Hague Accreditation means that they agency is accredited by the Council on Accreditation, to offer services to families adopting from countries that have ratified and ascended to the Hague Treaty which governs Inter-country adoption.
Adoption Related Services, Inc. received their accreditation in 2008. While some countries have not yet ratified or ascended to the Hague Treaty regarding Inter-country Adoption, it is expected that some of these countries will begin to require that agencies who are providing home studies, child placement and post adoption services, be accredited. This helps to ensure that the agency has met stringent standards in providing any adoption service. Using an accredited agency to complete your home study is a factor you should consider in your decision making process.
What documents will I need to provide to Adoption Related Services, Inc?
Any information that will support your appropriateness to be a parent. This will include information such as criminal background, child abuse clearances, medical report, references, financial, home evaluation, employment stability, etc.
How do I apply for a home study report?
Once the agency has received the application, and application fee, a home study packet will be sent to you, by email unless you request otherwise. You must complete the packet and send it to ARS with your documents, the required home study fee and the signed home study agreement. Once the packet is received, your social worker will contact you so that the home study interview may begin. The social worker will advise you who needs to be present at the interview.
We advise families that background clearances should be completed immediately, as it takes time to receive the results.
What information will I need to give about my finances?
You are asked to verify your income by providing copies of your income tax forms (1040 or 1040 EZ) for the last three years. You are also asked to provide a Letter of Verification of Employment. During the home study process, you will be asked about your savings, bankruptcies, insurance policies, assets and other investments and debts, including your monthly mortgage or rent payment, car and charge account payments, etc. This helps determine your general financial stability. You do not have to be wealthy to adopt, but ARS needs to know that the child will be coming to a family that manages its finances responsibly and can financially support the raising of a child.
Who should I ask to provide a letter of reference on my behalf?
Your references must be non-relatives. They can be close personal friends, an employer, a former teacher, a co-worker, a neighbor, or your pastor. The social worker will be asking questions about you that you have already answered yourself. The references will address areas such as your experience with children, the stability of your marriage if applicable, and your motivation to adopt. References are generally used to get a complete picture of a family's application and an idea of their support network.
You should select as references people who know you the best. If possible, they should be individuals who have known you for several years, who have seen you in various situations, who have visited in your home and know of your interest in children. They should be able to comment on your lifestyle and ability to parent.
Please notify and obtain the consent of references before listing them on the Agency Application. The letters of reference need to be notarized and mailed directly to ARS by the reference provider. The letters of reference should not be given to ARS by the adoption applicants.
What will the social worker be looking for when he or she visits our home?
The social worker is not visiting your home to conduct a white glove inspection. The social worker is simply looking to see if the child will be entering into a safe and healthy environment and whether you have thought ahead as to how you are going to accommodate the new family member. The social worker will want to see the child's bedroom and all other areas of the house or apartment, including the basement or back yard.
It is not necessary to clean the whole home from top to bottom. A certain level of cleanliness is necessary, but "lived-in" family clutter is expected. Most social workers would worry that people living in a "picture perfect" home would have a difficult time adjusting to the clutter that a child brings to a household.
What questions will my home study worker ask?
The home study is the presentation of you, your life, your family and their life. It includes information about your childhood, your marriage or single-hood, your extended family, your values, faith, education, finances, etc. It also discusses your decision to adopt and how you will integrate an adopted child into your family. In the case of a different race and/or culture, the home study will discuss your knowledge of the race/culture. You will be asked about your commitment to helping your child keep their cultural connection and identity. The home study will discuss your discipline practices, communication skills, etc. You will be expected to receive pre-adoption training regarding adoption issues such as, health and developmental issues in adoption, the grief process, identity formation, adopting older children (if applicable), as well as culture.
What if I have a criminal record or something that I think would prevent me from qualifying as an adoptive parent? Should I keep this information from the social worker?
Definitely not! It would not be wise to be deceptive or dishonest. Report even minor incidences. The documents collected in the home study process will expose an inconsistency in what you have presented about your family. This may harm your chances of obtaining an approved home study, approval of a court, or in the case of international adoption, USCIS approval. Answer all questions honestly and be forthright about matters that can be checked or that continue to cause problems. Unless the charges are recent and/or are serious in nature, with discussion and explanation things should move forward.
What if I or any member of my family that lives with me has a medical problem or a history of substance abuse or emotional problems?
It is important that you discuss this with your social worker. He/She can help you determine what impact this may have on an adoption. You can also call ARS’ office and speak to the Executive Director who has handled these types of issues.
Will I obtain a copy of my home study report when it is completed?
Yes. You will obtain four (4) notarized originals for your use. Additional copies can be obtained for a small fee.
If you have additional questions, feel free to call the office at 717-227-9560