The Adoption Home Study
Home Study 101
Home studies help prepare prospective adoptive parents for the tasks of raising a child who was not born into their family. They also provide assurance to individuals who are responsible for placing a child for adoption that the family is properly equipped to take care of a child. A home study consists of a series of interviews with a social worker, the collection of documents about the family, and a written narrative report.
Home studies are required in most states and, if you are adopting internationally, by the United States Citizen Immigration Service (USCIS) and the country where the child resides.
- The minimum age to adopt is 25 years of age. Couples must be married for 1 year or have been partnered and living together for at least 2 years at the time of the home study application.
- Adoptions Together, a program of Paths for Families, requires that a single parent must be 50 years or younger at the time of application for the adoption of an infant. If part of a couple, the couple’s combined age should not exceed 100. Ages may be older if you are adopting from foster care.
- The prospective parent should be in sufficient health to be expected to raise a child to adulthood.
- Sufficient financial resources are required at the time of home study approval to afford adoption expenses and to provide adequate care for the adopted child. All family members need to be covered by medical insurance. The primary earner must have life insurance to cover one year of salary. The reason for these financial guidelines is to protect both the adopted child and the family from serious financial distress.
Please note that particular countries and other placement services may have additional eligibility guidelines.
Home Study Process
- Application interview begins the process.
- Family completes home study documents, such as clearances, medical reports and financial information.
- Family takes trainings specific to the type of adoption chosen. Three additional interviews for a couple; two additional interviews for a single person.
- Home study report completed within 90 days from the time all documents have been submitted.
**The home study can be expedited and completed within 30 days if there is a compelling need to do so. It can also be updated annually and/or as needed.
Sample Topics Discussed in a Home Study:
- Your Life Story
- Child Care Plans
- Work and Finances
Upon request, we will provide you with the following:
- The number of its adoption placements per year for the prior three calendar years, and the number and percentage of those placements that remain intact, are disrupted, or have been dissolved as of the time the information is provided.
- The number of parents who apply to adopt on a yearly basis, based on data for the prior three calendar years.
- The number of children eligible for adoption and awaiting an adoptive placement referral through Adoptions Together.
Please click here to request this information and we will reply within 1 business day.
Training for Adoptive Families
Domestic Adoption Home Studies
You will be required to complete nine hours of pre-adoptive training as part of the home study process. Adoptions Together, a program of Paths for Families, offers several seminars for families adopting domestically.
International Adoption Home Studies
U.S. rules about international adoption require that families complete ten hours of training. China regulations require twelve hours of training for families adopting from that country.
Foster Care Adoption Training
To adopt from foster care, you will be required to complete a state-mandated 30-hour in-person training course. We offer this 10-week training regularly.
Online Adoption Training
Adoptions Together, a program of Paths for Families, offers several online webinar trainings for families who are not adopting from our Domestic Infant Program or Foster Care Adoption Program.
Training & Education
Home Study Fees
Adoptions Together can complete your adoption home study efficiently and affordably. Below is a description of our most common home study services and fees, please refer to the Home Study Information Packet for a more complete list.
Fees for services rendered are non-refundable. Families may incur additional fees from placing agencies, primary providers or third parties throughout the adoption process.
Due at time of application approval.
- Domestic Adoption: $600
- International Adoption: $800
- Foster Care Adoption: $600
Case Management Fee:
Due at time of application approval.
- Domestic Adoption: $300
- International Adoption: $500
- Foster Care Adoption: $200
Due at time of application approval.
- Domestic Adoption: $150
- International Adoption: $150
- Foster Care Adoption: $150
Home Study Fee:
Due at submission of home study documents.
- Domestic Adoption: $1,150
- International Adoption: $1,400
- Foster Care Adoption: $1,150
Annual Home Study Update:
Due annually at submission of home study update documents.
View the full fee sheet
Example Documentation for Home Study
Forms and instructions will be provided by your caseworker once your application is approved.
- Birth certificates for all persons in home
- Statement of net worth and other supporting financial documentation such as most recent tax return and employment letter
- Three letters of reference
- Medical reports for all persons in home
- State and FBI clearances for all persons 18 and older in the home and for frequent visitors
- Domestic home studies: need CPS clearances for previous states in which each adult lived within the last 5 years
- International home studies: CPS clearances for all states and countries in which each adult has lived from the age 18+
- Certified copy of driving records
- Sanitary Survey (MD), Fire Department inspection (except Baltimore County)
- Home safety checklist
- Child support clearances
- School adjustment report if the child in the home is in school
- Training certificates covering number of hours of training required
- Documentation of pet vaccinations
- Final adoption decree for any previously adopted child in home
- Emergency escape plan
- Marriage and divorce decrees
- Guardianship statement
- Home study agreement
Typical Virginia Parental Placement Procedures
Adoptions Together, a program of Paths for Families, is licensed to provide services for Virginia Parental Placement Adoptions. The information below was adapted with permission from Coordinators 2, Inc.
In a parental placement, a licensed child-placing agency completes a home study report, conducts the Simultaneous Meeting (no longer required by law, but is highly recommended) between birth and adoptive parents, and provides a Report to Court.
The Report includes home study information, background information on the birth parents and birth of the child and certifies to the Court that all identifying information has been exchanged, all parties are making an informed and uncoerced decision and recommends that this placement appears to be in the best interest of the child. The adoptive parents’ attorney files a petition in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court for execution of the birth parents consent and awarding of custody of the child to the prospective adoptive parents.
The Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court reviews the Report to Court to determine whether the requirements of law have been met, accepts parental consent, and transfers custody to the adoptive parents. An Adoption Petition may then be filed in Circuit Court. Please note that this type of adoption frequently has the physical placement of the child into the adoptive family occur prior to court consent, usually from the hospital. This means that the adoptive family accepts placement of the child under “legal risk” as the placing parents still have time to change their mind about adoption.
For more information about Virginia Parental Placement Adoptions, please make an account in MyAdoptionPortal.
Financing Your Adoption
Military Benefit Programs
The military will reimburse active-duty personnel for most one-time adoption costs up to $2,000 per child, whether adopting a domestic healthy infant or older child, or a child from abroad (travel costs, foreign or domestic, are not covered). There is a maximum reimbursement of $5,000 in a given year, even if both parents are in the military. Reimbursement is made only after the adoption is finalized and only if the adoption was provided through a state adoption agency or a not-for-profit private agency. Adoption and placement fees that may be reimbursed include:
- Fees for birth parent counseling
- Legal fees and court costs
- Medical expenses (hospital expenses of the birth mother and newborn infant).
The military’s Exceptional Family Member Program is designed to ensure that the adoptive families of children with special needs are assigned to duty stations where the child’s needs may be met. In some instances, a military family caring for an adopted disabled child may receive monthly assistance up to $1,000 under the military’s Program for Persons with Disabilities.
While the military has long provided health care for adopted children, as part of the health benefits provided by the Federal government to military personnel and their dependents, it is now available for adopted children as soon as they are placed in your home, rather than having to wait until the adoption is finalized. Moreover, military health care does not require a waiting period for pre-existing conditions. Military personnel may make use of leave programs similar to those offered by civilian employers. Reimbursements and benefits apply whether the adopting parent is single or married and whether the adoption is completed in the US or overseas.
**NOTE: Independent adoptions, or adoptions provided through a for-profit adoption agency, do not qualify for military reimbursements.
For more information about adoption for military families, www.nmfa.org.
Credit Cards and Frequent Flyer Miles
Families adopting through the International Adoption Program typically travel overseas to complete their adoptions. You can use frequent flyer miles to reduce the cost of airfare significantly. Many credit card companies offer frequent flyer miles as incentives. Check with your individual credit card issuers to see if this benefit is available to you.
Adoption Loan Information
Please contact the National Adoption Foundation to explore grants and loans specifically for adoption by visitingwww.fundyouradoption.org. Please note that loan approval is required for home study approval.
Adoption Subsidy Program
Families who adopt children with special medical, emotional, and/or developmental needs; older children from foster care; or members of a sibling group may be eligible for an adoption subsidy from federal and state governments. This financial assistance is available to ensure that families who adopt these children have the necessary services and financial resources to meet their children’s ongoing needs. Subsidies fall into three categories:
Monthly Financial Assistance:
This type of subsidy is designed to remove financial barriers for families who adopt children with special needs. Nearly all children in public foster care who are waiting to be adopted are eligible for this type of assistance. Subsidies are awarded on a case-by-case basis and vary depending on the needs of the child. Annual reviews of subsidies are conducted to ensure that the child still qualifies for assistance. Eligibility for the subsidy is based solely on the needs of the child; the adoptive parents’ financial resources do not determine whether a child is eligible for a subsidy.
Children in subsidized adoptions are also eligible for a medical subsidy through a new Medicaid-managed care program.
This nonrecurring payment, which may be offered in addition to the monthly financial subsidy, is designed to cover specific expenses or special services related to the adoption of a particular child or children. Reimbursable expenses may include adoption placement fees, court costs, attorney’s fees, required health and psychological examinations, transportation, and reasonable costs of lodging and food for the child and/or the adoptive parents when necessary to complete the placement or adoption process.
To be eligible for any subsidy, a child must first meet both of the following two requirements:
- A local department of social services or a private agency in Maryland must hold guardianship of the child. The child could not be placed for adoption without a subsidy.
To be eligible for any subsidy, a child must also meet one of the following requirements:
- The child must be six or older, but has not reached the age of 18 years
- The child must be a member of a minority group
- The child must have a physical or mental handicap and/or be emotionally dysregulated
- The child must be a member of a sibling group which is to be placed together
If you are interested in adopting a child who may be eligible for an adoption subsidy, we will assist you in applying for a subsidy for your child.
Education & Support Services
Adoptions Together, a program of Paths for Families, offers adoption education and parent training on a wide range of topics that address the unique needs of adoptive, blended, foster and kinship care families. Seminars and workshops cover topics such as attachment and trauma, grief and loss, parenting a teen, talking to children about adoption, navigating the birthparent relationship, managing challenging behaviors, and interracial adoption. We strive to make parent training affordable, convenient, and easily accessible by offering in person, online, and on-demand options for parent training and adoption education.
Adoptions Together, a program of Paths for Families, offers counseling and support programs for parents, children, and families that provide a safe atmosphere to share common issues and concerns. Special events such as the annual Fall Family Day are designed to educate and inform, forge connections, strengthen family bonds, and celebrate the many ways that families are formed.
Adoptions Together, a program of Paths for Families, offers a wide array of adoption education and support services for children, families and professionals that are relevant, cost effective, and easily accessible. Our adoption education, training and support programs include:
- Adoption Preparation Classes
- Post-Adoption Seminars for Adoptive Families
- Specialized Seminars on Domestic and International Adoption
- Online and On-Demand Adoption and Parent Education Courses
- Support Groups for Parents, Children and Families
- Educational Conferences for Parents and Professionals School Education Programs for Teachers and Administrators
- Professional Development Seminars and Programs
- Consultations for Professionals (e-mail and telephone)
- Attachment Training Series for Professionals
For more information about the services we offer, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org