Whether you are a first-time father or just want to expand your family, adoption can be a rewarding way to become a parent. Unlike typical child custody matters in which you are a biological parent, people outside your family and the court must approve your becoming a parent to a child currently without one.
For this reason, one may conduct a home study in order to help ensure that the child you want to adopt is going into a safe, loving and healthy home. This often represents a particularly stressful part of the adoption process since no one wants someone judging how he or she lives; however, knowing what to expect could help relieve at least some of that stress.
What does a home study entail?
First, you need to know that this part of the process can take up to six months. You will need to submit paperwork, explore your reasons for adopting and answer questions. The social worker will also visit your home at some point. He or she wants to gain an understanding of your family and ascertain how an adopted child would fit into it. While every state, including New York, has its own requirements and procedures for a home study, most want the same general information as follows:
- Are you physically and mentally able to parent a child?
- Do you earn sufficient income to provide for another member of your household?
- Do you have good relationships with your neighbors?
- What kind of schools does your neighborhood have?
- If you adopt a special needs child, does your community have the resources he or she will need?
- Will each member of your family pass a child abuse and criminal background check?
You will also need to provide references that the social worker can interview. The person in charge of your case will more than likely interview you, and perhaps all of the members of your family (including your other children, if any), as well. The purpose of the home study isn’t to find out how clean your house is, even though it doesn’t hurt to keep a clean and organized home.
Instead, it is about making sure that the child you want to bring into your home will fit in and have a good life with you. Most people have numerous questions when it comes to the home study. Obtaining the answers to those questions in advance could make an admittedly nerve-wracking experience less so.