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Basic Overview of Adoption Background Investigations and Home Visits

Basic Overview of Adoption Background Investigations and Home Visits
January 23, 2013 James Greenier

The adoption process is a rewarding option that unites children with parents desperate for a child, but the process of agency adoption can be a stressful process because so much is at stake for the adoptive parents.  One of the most fundamental aspects of the adoption process (particularly with agency adoptions) is the background investigation process.  Many adoptions require a pre-placement and post-placement report which must provide information on the backgrounds of all parties involved, a “home study” and other information that permits an evaluation that prospective adoptive parents can properly care for the adoptive child.

Many adoptive parents are apprehensive about having their lives put under the microscope and have anxiety about whether they will be approved based on the information gathered during a home study and other aspects of the adoption evaluation process.  The reality is that most home studies end with a positive recommendation.  Home study reports are far reaching and include information on your marital relationship, immediate and extended family, personal finances, details about your home and neighborhood, heath issues and criminal record.  The report will also include information provided by personal references, as well as your subjective attitudes toward issues like fertility, adoption and parenting.

Generally, a home study report will be prepared by a social worker who will make at least one home visit and conduct multiple interviews with prospective adoptive parents.  While the home study process varies based on the agency you use and your state, we have provided an overview of some common aspects of the home study process:

Interview Process: Prospective adoptive parents are interviewed at least once but more typically multiple times.  The interviews will delve into a wide range of subjects that may include your philosophy on parenting, your relationship with your current children, you significant personal relationships, your experiences handling loss or extreme stress and a range of other issues.

Home Visit: The key to keep in mind is that a home inspection is not about evaluating your housekeeping skills or level of cleanliness.  While your home should be reasonably neat and tidy, the real objective of the home visit is to identify potential safety hazards and your ability to integrate a new child into your home.  This means you should focus on thing like:

  • Ensuring fire alarms are in place and functioning
  • Locking away toxic cleaning chemicals
  • Pools are properly covered and/or secured behind locked gates
  • Any firearms are secured and inaccessible

The person who conducts the home visit will examine all areas of the house including the yards and basement.  Adoptive parents should be prepared to explain their plan for the child’s room because the social worker will be evaluating whether there is sufficient appropriate space for the child.

Criminal Record/Background Checks: All states require a child abuse and criminal record check on potential adoptive parents.  Depending on your state, you may also need to provide fingerprints and pass federal, local and state clearances.  It is important to understand that you should not assume a criminal conviction will disqualify you from adopting.  However, hiding or lying about a criminal conviction may harm your chances.  The best option is to discuss any concerns about a prior criminal record with your Kansas adoption attorney to determine the best way to deal with this information.

Medical/Health Evaluation: Adoptive parents must be able to provide medical information to establish that they have no serious physical or mental health issues that adversely impact their life expectancy or ability to care for a child.  If you have a potentially serious medical issue, such as high blood pressure or diabetes that is controlled by medication this should not normally be an issue.

Evaluation of Income: While there is no minimum income requirement for agency adoptions, you will be asked to provide documents proving income like W-2s or tax returns.  The agency will evaluate these documents and others to determine that you are able to manage your finances adequately and responsibly.  The person conducting the evaluation may also look at insurance policies especially health insurance for the adoptive child.

If you have questions about the adoption process in Kansas, we urge you to schedule a consultation to learn about the requirements and procedure.  Wichita, KS adoption attorney Thomas C. McDowell has been practicing law for over two decades.  We provide legal representation in agency, foreign and step-parent adoption. So please call us today at 316-633-4322 or submit an online case evaluation form.