Adoption Home Studies

Whether you are pursuing an independent, agency, domestic or international adoption, the Adoption Home Study is an essential first step. Technically, adoption homestudies are reports that describe your family, explaining your current lives and lifestyle, your family histories, your decision to adopt and your experiences and attitudes about adoption and parenting issues.During one or more interviews, potential adoptive parents and their New York Adoption Homestudy social worker will discuss your decision to adopt, the characteristics of the child you are hoping to adopt, the emotional and social implications (for the parents and the child) of the adoption, and the health and adjustment issues that the child may have upon joining your family. We will discuss your  ideas about child rearing, your lifestyle and value system, and your personal histories.  A visit to the home is always part of the home study process but the length of interviewing time varies from family to family.

The number of interviews and length of interviewing time varies from family to family, and according to various agency and country requirements. A home visit is always part of the adoption home study process in order to ensure that your home is safe and appropriate for a child.  Certain documentation, including personal references letters and financial information, will be collected.

The adoption homestudy is an opportunity for you to help the social worker understand who you are as a family, where you came from and what you hope for in the future.  After the interviews have been completed, your social worker will formulate a concise report that will include an assessment of your capacity to love and nurture a child brought into your family via adoption.

Your home study should be an interactive, educational experience. It is vitally important that your social worker is not only licensed in New York, but is knowledgeable about domestic and foreign adoptions, and is experienced in writing well documented home studies acceptable to adoption, court and CIS officials.

Our Adoption Home Study Reports are accepted by New York State Courts for purposes of Pre-Certification, by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for CIS approval, by most domestic and international adoption agencies and by ICPC (Interstate Compact for Placement of Children). They meet the requirements of domestic and international adoption laws.

We provide agency home studies for international adoptions and for those domestic adoptions which require them. We provide independent practitioner home studies for most domestic adoptions.

We can also “convert” your “independent practitioner” study to an “agency” study, should this be necessary after the study is completed.

Home Studies for Domestic Adoptions

Home studies that are written for domestic adoption meet New York State Pre-Certification requirements as well as the requirements of the court where the adoption takes place and, if applicable, domestic agency requirements.

Individuals and Couples in New York State who are pursuing an Independent domestic adoption must be Pre-Certified as Qualified Adoptive Parents by the court in their county of residence prior to taking custody of a child.  Some domestic adoption agencies also require that their New York families become Pre-Certified as well. The Pre-Certification process is initiated by the family’s adoption attorney, who files a Petition requesting certification with the court.

You will be asked to provide certain documents (for example, birth and marriage certificates, divorce decrees, financial statements and personal reference letters) and your attorney will arrange for child abuse clearance and criminal clearance (fingerprint check). The Pre-Certification law requires that your home study be filed with the court “in confidence”, that is, before the family has seen the report, along with an “Affidavit of Disinterested Person” (which affirms that we evaluated you in an objective. “disinterested” manner). We will send you a copy of your home study at the same time we submit it to the court.  We will also forward a copy to your attorney.

Having approved all elements of your pre-certification file, the judge will issue a certification order, which is good for eighteen months.  In the event you have not completed your adoption in that time frame, you will need an Update of your Adoption Home Study for purposes of Re-Certification.

Agency requirements vary depending on the states in which they are licensed. If the adoption involves an interstate placement, the home study will also meet the requirements of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

Home Studies for International Adoptions

Home studies for international adoption conform to the regulations of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service as well as the requirements of the child’s country of birth and the particular adoption agency the family has chosen to work with. The home study preparer will take into account the cultural values and assumptions which prevail in the child’s birth country when writing the home study. Please note that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service requires that all studies for international adoption be processed through a New York State authorized agency or that families obtain court precertification to be submitted to CIS with a non agency study.

Certain documentation will be collected during your home study for international adoption.  You will need to provide copies of your birth and marriage certificates and divorce decrees as well as documentation of your financial situation and personal reference letters. We will also assist you with criminal and child abuse clearances.

Your Adoption Home Study must be less than six months old when you file it with U.S.C.I.S.  Your C.I.S. approval is good for eighteen months.  In the event you have not completed your adoption in that time frame, you will need an Update of your Adoption Home Study.

Adoption Home Study Updates

Home Study updates are necessary in certain circumstances.   A home study update is needed when a family is seeking to adopt another child, has moved to a new home, has had other major changes in their family situation, needs to be re-certified in New York State or if their CIS approval has expired.  A Home Study Update usually involves an interview and home visit, during which the information contained in the original home study report is verified and updated.  A new report is then issued.

Simple Update Letter

A simple update letter may be written when no significant changes have taken place in the family’s situation and the update is required by the child’s country of birth or CIS as a result of time limitations being exceeded.

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