Frequently Asked Questions about Home Studies
Does my social worker need to be licensed?
Yes, your social worker must be licensed by the state of Texas as a social worker, unless she/he has been approved by a Judicial District Court in the State of Texas for Court-ordered home studies. This type of home study is usually for step-parent adoptions only. A Child Placing Agency licensed by the state of Texas may also use a non-licensed social worker for the purposes of interviewing and evaluating a home study, but the social worker must use the agency license as verification of her eligibility to perform home studies. It is best to explain to your social worker what type of adoption you are doing to make sure she qualifies to do it prior to signing on with her for that service.
What does a home study mean?
A Home Study is simply an assessment and evaluation of your potential to be good adoptive parents. Under the Family Code of the State of Texas, all persons adopting a child who is not related to them by blood, must undergo an evaluation by a person or entity who is designated as qualified to recommend to the court whether or not you meet the qualifications to adopt in the state of Texas. This must be done prior to the child being placed in your home. In most cases, even biological grandparents must have a home study prior to finalizing their adoption in a Texas court.
How long does it take to do a home study?
It shouldn’t take too long at all. We have the autobiographical instrument and the list of documents needed as well as some other paperwork for the home study right here on our website. Call the office at 281-342-4042 so we can send you fingerprint cards and make an appointment to visit you and your family in your home. The interview should last 3 to 4 hours in your home. Generally after the interview, we can have the home study ready for you in a couple of weeks. The fingerprint results come back usually with in 2 to 3 weeks, so it is important to have those done as soon as possible.
Why do we have to have fingerprints done and where do we do them?
Texas has recently changed its rules on who should have fingerprints done for the purpose of adoption. Our Agency’s policy is that all adoptive parents applying for adoption with us will undergo a fingerprint background check by the FBI. The state of Texas also requires anyone over the age of 14 living in an adoptive home to be fingerprinted and have a background check completed. Most fingerprinting for the State of Texas is done electronically. We will send you an email once we recive your application on how to schedule your appointment for fingerprinting.
How long is a home study good for?
A home study should be good for a long time; it just has to be updated periodically. It should be updated each year and within 30 days of your being placed with a child. Most agencies and/or social workers charge a fee for each time they have to update a home study.
I just want to adopt an infant domestically, what type of home study do I need? How many post placements visits are required?
If you are adopting through an agency, they will probably recommend a social worker to you who is experienced with their policies. If you are doing an independent adoption, your attorney can probably recommend a social worker for you. Either way, you must have a home study prior to the child being placed in your home and you must have 5 post placement supervision visits prior to finalization.
My husband wants to adopt my child from a previous marriage. Does he need a home study?
Yes, he does. When you go to an attorney to begin this process, he will probably refer you to a social worker that he uses. If not, Family to Family can either do the home study for you or recommend some one who can. Call us at 281-342-4042.
I would like to adopt internationally, but the home study is so expensive. Why?
Home studies for all international adoption are getting to be more expensive because of the regulation and requirements of the Hague Convention which was ratified and implemented in April 2008 in the United States. Russia, China, Bulgaria and most countries placing children with families in the United States have already ratified the Hague Convention and therefore, they will require the American placing agency to be Hague Accredited.
The American process is allowing some smaller agencies to become “supervising providers” for large international agencies such as All God’s Children International and Wide Horizons for Children. Family to Family has agreed to become a supervising provider for both of those agencies as well as a few more. Ask your international agency if Family to Family is an approved home study provider for them.
The more regulations required for the home study, the higher the costs are going to be. For example: The state of Texas has requirements listed in the Family Code for home study evaluations. These laws are explained and implemented by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services through the Texas Adoption Minimum Standards which adds more regulations and requirements as far as who qualifies to make a recommendation to approve a person for adoption and what the process will be.
Now, the Federal Government is becoming involved because of the Hague Convention, a worldwide treaty regarding a vast array of issues surrounding women and children all over the world. Now, an international child placing agency must be Hague Accredited. A fee is charged to that agency or the home study agency if they are Hague Accredited to pay for the implementation of the treaty.
If I’m doing a domestic adoption, does my agency have to be accredited by the Hague Convention?
No, it does not. It is only if you are adopting a child who resides in a country different from the one in which you reside.
I’m nervous about the home study. Will the social worker be critical of my home and the way we live?
The job of the social worker is to help you become qualified to adopt a child. She is required by the State of Texas to do an environmental survey of your home to make sure there is not a safety hazard or health concern for the baby you will be bringing home. She is not there to judge you and the way you live. She is there to make sure you meet the standards for an adoptive parent as stated in the Texas Family Code and the Minimum Child Placing Standards. Most social workers are very nice people and only want to help you create your family through adoption.
Does my home have to be child proof when the social worker comes to do the home study?
No, it doesn’t. However if you have other children living in your home, it should reflect your safety precautions that you have already put in place. Generally, you will have plenty of time to get your home child proofed after you bring your child home. For the safety of your child, your home should be made ‘child proof’ by the time he/she is crawling.
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