Young couple meet with a social worker for their home study visitIf you’ve just begun the adoption process, you may wonder what a home study is. All states require that families applying to adopt complete a home study. Here are answers to the most frequently asked home study questions so you can be fully prepared!

What exactly is a home study?

An adoption home study report is a document that states whether or not you are fit to become an adoptive parent. In it is a story of your current life: your family and marriage history, financial state, and health. A home study also involves a social worker visiting your home. This visit is done to ensure you have a safe and adequate home to raise a child in. Everyone in your home will be interviewed and then all of this information will be compiled and included in your home study report.
Your home study includes personal references, background checks which look into your criminal record, a description of your home and neighborhood, and addresses any health concerns. It describes your family relationships, thoughts on adoption, parenting beliefs, and addresses infertility issues if relevant. It concludes with the social worker’s recommendation that you’re approved to adopt. Sometimes it also designates how many children you may adopt, and of what ages.

Are we required to get a home study?

You’re legally required to complete a home study before you can adopt. This is true no matter if you’re adopting through an agency, facilitator, private lawyer, or seeking an international adoption. Prospective adoptive parents must get a home study regardless of their state.
If the idea of opening up your life to a social worker sounds nerve-wracking, know that you’re not alone. Many couples worry that they’ll be deemed ineligible to adopt. In our experience, though, it’s pretty rare for a home study to conclude with a negative recommendation.

How can I help my spouse get through the home study?

The home study can be a long and tiresome process, with all the documents to collect and return, and visits to schedule, and classes to take. Many adoptive parents say things like, “This seems unfair because pregnant couples don’t have to go through all this” at some point during their home study process.
If you or your spouse is reluctant and feel like having their lives examined is too much to shoulder, try to shift your thought process around. Work on your home study in pieces, so that you don’t become too overwhelmed. And instead of seeing the home study as a burden, think of it as an opportunity to ask an expert everything you want to know about adoption. You’ll find your Social Worker will be a great asset for you before, during, and after you adopt.

Who will perform the home study?

Your home study needs to be written by a social worker licensed your state. Some states require that the social worker is attached to a licensed adoption agency. If you live in Florida, you have the opportunity to have a social worker connected to the Lifetime Adoption Agency complete your home study. You can learn more about Lifetime’s home study services here.
If your adoption agency is located in another state, we’ll provide home study recommendations in your state of residence. Lifetime Adoption Agency will only recommend reputable home study agencies with a solid background of experience.
Adoptive couple chatting in the kitchen

How much does the home study cost?

The cost of your adoption home study can vary based on factors such as your chosen adoption method, your state, and your selected professional. However, a general estimate suggests that the cost typically ranges from $1,000 to $3,000. Keep in mind that your unique circumstances will ultimately determine the cost of your home study.
Sometimes, there are additional costs when updating your home study at the one-year mark and when changes need to be made. For example, if you move to a new home or another person moves in with you, your home study needs to be updated.
Lifetime Adoption Agency provides home study services at a flat rate with no hidden costs. With our extensive services, you can be sure you’re receiving the best value possible. The price may seem high, but you get a lot of value because you get several vital services. Your home study provider will provide feedback and suggestions which will improve your adoption process. You’ll also gain access to important, helpful resources such as:

  • Guidance from your adoption agency
  • Advice from a professional social worker
  • Management of complex paperwork and documentation

When you consider your adoption home study cost in the context of the services you receive, it’s clear that you get a lot of value. What’s more, completing the home study process gives all parties involved peace of mind, knowing you’re fully prepared to become a parent. To get information about our full fee schedule, give us a call at 727-493-0933.

How long will it take?

Typically, the entire home study process takes around four to six weeks. How long it will take depends on how much time it takes for your background checks to get in, how quickly you submit the required paperwork and your availability for interviews and home visits. It’s Lifetime’s goal to complete your home study within 30 days of acquiring all of the required documents.

What is the social worker looking for?

A home study is intended to explore the kind of life you can offer a child. The social worker isn’t visiting to intimidate you; it’s fine if your home doesn’t pass a “white glove test.” They’re not assessing your housekeeping standards and will understand if there’s some clutter. In fact, people living in an Instagram-worthy house might have a hard time adjusting to the chaos of raising a child!
You don’t need to have a fully-decorated nursery, baby supplies, or toys yet or even have your home completely baby-proofed. The social worker is simply looking for signs that you’ll be practical, loving, and safe parents.

What about after we adopt?

After your child’s birth parents have signed paperwork consenting to the adoption and it becomes irrevocable, you will then apply for finalization. You’ll appear in court before a judge who will formally recognize you as a family. The judge will issue a new birth certificate which lists the two of you as the child’s parents. This court appearance is a simple and joyful ceremony.
Before they’ll approve the finalization, judges typically require a social worker to visit you at least once after the child is in your home. Some courts will accept an agency or independent social worker for this post-placement visit, but a few courts require the use of their own social worker.

Why are post-placement visits required?

Post-placement visits aren’t something to worry about. They are more of a formality and not a test of your parenting skills. Your post-placement visits are not there to jeopardize your adoption. Rather, they’re used as another way to ensure that you and your child will successfully adjust to your new lives together.
These visits are used to confirm the well-being and safety of both the adopted child and their adoptive parents. It can take time to acclimate to the new reality of raising an adopted child. Post-placement adoption visits ensure everyone involved is comfortable and adjusting well.
The amount of post-placement visits and when they will transpire depends on your state laws. Typically, these visits are conducted by your home study professional. Adopting parents who work with Lifetime Adoption to complete their home study will correspond with our social workers for this step. Your Adoption Coordinator can also help you prepare for these visits.
In accordance with the laws where your adoption was finalized, three post-placement visits are typically required. Most post-placement adoption visits start within two to four weeks after placement.

Lifetime Adoption Agency provides affordable home study services in Florida. Learn more by calling us at 727-493-0933 or by submitting this short form:

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on February 21, 2022, and has since been updated. 

Linda Rotz

Written by Linda Rotz

Linda Rotz, CWCM-S, CWCM-Trainer, ACC, is the Director of Adoption Services at Lifetime. Linda has worked in the field of adoption for 20 years within the child welfare/foster care system in Florida. She has degrees in Mass Communications and Human Development, and completed graduate studies in social work.

Due to her extensive expertise, Linda was called upon to write adoption procedures and training materials in Florida. She is certified as an Adoption Specialist, Child Welfare Case Manager Supervisor and Child Welfare Trainer in the state of Florida.