What Is Involved in a Home Study?
It's important for the birth mother of a child being placed for adoption to know that her child will be raised in a safe environment by capable and prepared parents. To ensure that aspiring adoptive parents can manage the responsibilities of raising an adopted child, the state requires an investigation called a “home study”.
The home study involves visits by a social worker to the adopting family’s home, interviews and background checks. The purpose of the home study is not just to screen the adoptive parents to make sure they are qualified to adopt a child, but also to educate the adoptive parents so that they know how to help the child understand adoption as part of his or her life.
Home Study for Washington Adoptive Parents
The home study can be intimidating and even uncomfortable, but it is a necessary step to becoming an adoptive parent. As an experienced Washington adoption lawyer, Joyce Schwensen can help you know what to expect from the home study process. If there are issues that concern you, she can advise you about them and help you understand in advance how the home study social worker will likely view those issues.
Joyce Schwensen has helped many parents adopt children, both as a lawyer and as the former owner of an adoption agency. Call the Law Offices of Joyce S. Schwensen today at (206) 367-1065 to schedule a consultation.
Joyce Schwensen helps Washingtonians become adoptive parents across the state, including in Seattle, Spokane, Vancouver and Tacoma.
Who Can Conduct a Home Study in Washington
Under Washington law, the home study must be conducted by a licensed adoption agency, by the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, by an person with a degree in social worker and experience working in the field of adoption, by a court employee, or by someone else approved by the court. Although either a licensed adoption agency or an independent social worker or counselor who meets the legal requirements can conduct the home study, the home study requirements for your particular type adoption plan may specify that the home study be done by a licensed adoption agency.
However, adoption agency home studies are often more costly than home studies prepared by independent social workers or counselors. In deciding who to work with for your home study, it is a good idea to consult with an attorney first, to make sure you are choosing a home study provider who can prepare a home study that fits in with your particular adoption plan.
Questions About Your Readiness to Adopt
The home study is designed to determine whether you are ready to be parents to an adopted child. There are a few issues that every home study is required to check into. The goal of most of these are to determine whether you've fully thought out what it means to be an adoptive parents, and have prepared for many of the challenges.
The issues the home study is required to review with the adoptive parents include:
- Do you understand adoption is a lifelong developmental process and commitment?
- Do you understand that your child may have feelings of identity confusion and loss regarding the separation from birth parents?
- Are you aware that it is very important to disclose to the child that he or she is adopted?
- Are you prepared to respond appropriately when your child asks about birth parents and relatives?
- Do you have a plan in place to address your adopted child's racial, ethnic and/or cultural heritage?
- Do you recognize that the child’s relationship with birth siblings may be a very important relationship in his or her life?
Additionally, the home study will require financial information about your family, medical clearances from your health providers, letters of recommendation, a home inspection and personal interviews with a social worker, and other investigations to determine whether you are qualified and prepared to be an adoptive parent.
Criminal Background Checks
Your criminal history will be checked as part of the home study process. If you have minor criminal offenses in your past, you may still be able to adopt if your home study social worker determines that you are very unlikely to reoffend, that you have accepted full responsibility for your past actions, and that the offense does not indicate a likelihood that you would be an unfit parent.
However, certain criminal convictions will absolutely disqualify you from becoming an adoptive parent under Washington law. If you have been convicted of any of these crimes, it's unlikely that your Washington adoption lawyer will be able to ever help you become a parent in Washington State:
- Child abuse and/or neglect
- Spousal abuse
- Any crime against a child, including child pornography
- Violent crimes like rape, sexual assault and homicide, but not necessarily physical assault
In addition, if you've been convicted of certain other crimes you will not be eligible to be considered for adoption until at least five years has passed since the offense. Those crimes include:
- Any kind of physical assault that is less severe than those that would absolutely disqualify you
- Any sex offense that is less severe than those that would absolutely disqualify you
- Any other felony conviction that that is less severe than those that would absolutely disqualify you
- Certain felony drug convictions, including violations of the Imitation Controlled Substances Act, Legend Drug Act, Precursor Drug Act or Uniform Controlled Substances Act, or manufacturing, delivering, or possessing a controlled substance with intent to deliver, or using a building for purposes related to illegal drugs
Law Offices of Joyce S. Schwensen | Washington Adoption Attorney
Going through the home study process may sound intimidating, but most people find it much less uncomfortable than they anticipate. And the end result in most cases is the ability to adopt a child. Washington adoption lawyer Joyce Schwensen can help make sure you are prepared for the home study and make sound choices in selecting a qualified home study provider. Call today at (206) 367-1065 to schedule a consultation to discuss your adoption plans.