The Home Study
The home study is a required part of the adoption process, regardless of where you are adopting from. The following are some frequently asked questions about the home study. Please contact our office if you have additional questions or would like further information.
What is a home study?
A home study involves meetings with a social worker, as well as plenty of self-reflection to determine you readiness to adopt. This includes conversations about your motivation to adopt, your history and experiences, your support system, your interests, your parenting values and conversations about the unique aspects of adoptive parenting.
The home study is a mutual process of assessment and you will work together to make decisions about the type of adoption that is the best fit for you and your family. This may include decisions about the age of child you would like to adopt, number of children and special needs that you are open to.
When the home study meetings are done, the home study will be written up into a report that outlines the information gathered at these meetings, as well as paperwork that you have submitted. Home study completion and approval is needed to apply to a domestic or international adoption program.
When does it start?
Once you have registered with Choices, we will send you details of the paperwork that is required before the home study can start. This includes the following for each adoptive parent:
- Criminal record check
- Prior contact/child welfare check
- Family map
- Eco map
- Other documents as applicable
Don’t worry if you are not sure how to obtain these documents, we will support you step by step through the process and make sure you have the forms and other information that you will need. Once these documents are received in our office, you will be assigned a social worker in your community who can work with you on the home study.
How long does it take?
The home study process usually takes a minimum of three months to complete. During this time, you will have approximately 6-9 meetings with your social worker, with time in between each meeting to process the information, read some articles provided by the agency and have time to reflect on your adoption journey. You may also be attending the Adoption Education Program (AEP) during this time as this must be completed before your home study can be finalized.
How long is it valid for?
Once the home study is approved, annual home study updates are required each year until the adoption process is complete. The yearly updates involve updating some of your documents and having a meeting with your social worker to discuss what has changed in the last year and how you have continued to prepare for your adoption.
Choices will contact you when your home study update is due and provide directions on any paperwork that may need updating. Once the necessary paperwork is updated, your home study social worker will contact you to arrange a time to meet.
Who is involved in the home study process?
The home study process involves the prospective adoptive parent(s), as well as any children already in the family and anyone else living in or frequenting the home. While time will be made to meet with these people, the majority of the meetings will be the social worker with the prospective adoptive parent(s).
If you are adopting as a couple, you will meet together, except for one meeting each where you will meet individually with the social worker. The people you choose to be your references will also be involved in providing information on paper and over the phone.
What happens at the meetings?
Once your home study is ready to start, your will be contacted with the name of your social worker. Your social worker will then contact you to arrange the best time to meet.
Most of the home study meetings will occur in your home, although sometimes some of the meetings can take place outside of your home if that is most convenient for you. At least one meeting must occur in your home so that the social worker can include a description of your home in your home study. A home safety checklist will also be completed at this time to ensure your home is safe for a child to reside.
All meetings are planned with your social worker, so you will know when the meetings are. Most of the meetings will involve asking you questions and having conversations, and one of the meetings will involve a walk through your home.
Is it possible to not be approved to adopt?
Although the social worker is meeting directly with you, the primary focus is the best interest of the children who are being adopted.
Sometimes through the home study meetings it will become clear that now is not the best time to bring a child into your family. If that is determined to be the case, this is will discussed with you and a plan made, such as putting the home study process on hold while you attend counselling.
Occasionally, concerns are brought up during the home study that mean we cannot continue the adoption process. The majority of people who start the home study process are approved to adopt. If you have questions or concerns about this, please contact the Choices office.
I’ve already adopted, do I need another home study?
If you have already completed a home study and adopted, you must wait one year after the placement of the child to begin the adoption process again. At this time, you will require what is called a ‘subsequent home study’, which is different than a home study update.
The subsequent home study involves approximately 3-4 visits with your social worker to look at what has changed since your previous adoption and how another child will fit into your family.