Home studies are part 2 of the 6 standard steps of adoption here in Washington state. If you’re a first time prospective adoptive parent, the idea of a home study can be a bit intimidating. While a home study may seem overwhelming, it’s important to remember that the reason for home study is to protect the child and make sure that your family is in a stable place to add another individual.
What is a Home Study
Also known as a pre-placement report or a unified home study, a home study involves a study of your home to ensure that you and your family are qualified to adopt a child. Once your application is approved, a licensor will come to your home in order to evaluate your home and get a grasp on your family dynamics and lifestyle. The licensor will also do a walk-through of your home to make sure it meets licensing requirements.
While this sounds scary, essentially the point of a home study is to make sure that you and your partner are fit to be parents, and that the home environment any prospective child may be placed into is safe and nurturing.
Applying for Your Home Study
As you prepare to adopt, you will need to apply for an adoptive home study through the Washington State Department of Children, Youth & Families using a DCYF 10-354. This document is typically provided by the adoption agency you are working with. When filling out this document you must provide personal information such as address and name, documentation of all persons in your household, the child and case worker’s name, and references.
In addition to filing a DCYF 10-354, all persons 16 and above in your household must pass a criminal history background check.
You will also be asked to provide:
- Personal information DCYF 15-276
- Documentation of marriage(s) and/or divorce (s) DCYF 09-979
- Medical statements DCYF 13-001
- Income statements, and
- References (3, only 1 being of blood relation) DCYF 15-286
How to Prepare For Your Home Study
Now that you know what documents you’ll need to fill out, you may be wondering about the nitty gritty of what to expect and how to prepare for your home study.
Despite the jitters you may feel initially, it’s important to relax. This isn’t an interrogation, and a home study shouldn’t be scary. The licensor is there in the best interests of the child. They want to get to know you and your family in order to make an informed decision about whether your home is a suitable environment for a new child. The best thing you can do during a home study is to be yourself. Be open and honest about your family dynamics, culture, and values.
If you have any questions about the adoption process, your home study is the perfect opportunity to ask them. The licensor is there to answer any questions you have.
Just like you should be prepared ahead of time with answers to your licensor’s questions, your home should be equally prepared. It’s important that you make sure your home is child-safe. Check to make sure that chemicals, medications, sharp objects, etc. are out of reach of a child. Ensure that all smoke detectors and fire alarms are properly installed and functional. Be prepared to show where the child would live, the bathroom and kitchen, etc.. A potential safety hazard in the home could slow the adoption process, so it’s important to present a suitable environment from the get-go.
If you’re interested in adoption it’s important to have a knowledgeable attorney to answer any questions you may have. Contact one of our attorney’s at The Narrows Law Group today.