The Homestudy

20 Aug

After you’ve officially decided to adopt or become a foster parent, the Homestudy is the first step in the adoption process.  You can start your Homestudy before you’ve chosen an adoption agency or even a decided on what country you want to adopt from.  It can be a lengthy process (6 months or more) or very quick (1-2 months) depending on how fast you get your paperwork together and how flexible your schedule is, since several face-to-face meetings with your social worker are required.  Because we knew we wouldn’t be adopting through an agency in WA, we had to find a local agency to do our Homestudy.  It’s necessary to use a local agency for your Homestudy because the social worker has to come see your house and meet with you in person.   We chose an adoption agency called Children’s House International to do our Homestudy.  They sent us a social worker named Thea and we LOVED her. Our first meeting was March 9, 2011.

The purpose of the Homestudy is two-fold:

  • Prepare & educate the adoptive parents about the issues and concerns related to international adoption
  • Check out the adoptive parents to make sure they’re not a couple of wackos 

We had a wonderful Homestudy experience.  Thea was so sweet and put us right at ease the first time we met her.  We met in our home 4 times.  During those times we discussed our backgroud and upbringing, how we were raised, how we met, our plans for paying for the adoption, our parenting techniques, risks of international adoption, adjustments we will go through, and what brought us to the decision to adopt, as well as many other topics.  The Homestudy was also the official start of the what the adoption community affectionately refers to as The Paper Chase (more on that in the next blog!).  When we started our Homestudy, my sister excitedly informed me, “Now you’re papers-pregnant!”  I liked the sound of that :o)

We had to provide Thea with all sorts of information about our lives so that she could write an accurate Homestudy report.  Several background checks were preformed on Josh and I, as well as FBI fingerprinting, and four reference letters were required.  We had to get a notarized letter from our bank stating we had an account that was in good standing, one from our employers stating our job title, length of employment, and salary, and one from our doctors stating that we were in good physical health and they saw no reason to discourage us from adopting.  We also had to take several parent education classes (ours were online) about international adoption.  After Thea collected these documents and completed her meetings with us she complied all this information to write a long report, sort of like a little biography, about Josh and I.  This report was read by our adoption agency, the Dept. of Homeland Security (because we had to get approval from them to bring an immigrant over and make the a US citizen through adoption…..more on that later as well!), and it will also be read by adoption officials in the Ugandan government.

I know this probably sounds like a lot of hoops to jump through and many people are intimated by the thought of going through a Homestudy.  But, honestly, we loved our Homestudy.  I never felt intimidated or uncomfortable.  In fact, I never even felt nervous.  The whole process was exciting and every step prepared us more for becoming adoptive parents.  The photo above is Josh and I with Thea after our last meeting with her.  We will get to see her a three more times when she comes for post-placement reports after we bring our baby home.

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