The first step in any adoption is a Family Assessment, also known as a homestudy. Families must be approved through the Family Assessment process before a child can be placed in their home for adoption. The Family Assessment involves a series of meetings between the family and an adoption worker. Training regarding adoption process and common issues in adoption will also be required before or during the assessment process. During the assessment, your social worker will talk with you about your motivations and expectations for adoption. It also gives the adoption worker a chance to get to know your family.
The Family Assessment process usually takes three to six months to complete, depending on factors such as worker caseload and family cooperation. Assessments are typically prioritized based on the types of children waiting and the characteristics of families who have applied. The process typically consists of a number of meetings at the home as well as personal interviews. The study generally includes the following:
Social History - A complete history and evaluation of your current family life and past experiences - and how they will affect your capacity to parent an adoptive child - is written.
Health Statements - All household members will need to provide a medical history and a recent physical (within one year).
Criminal Background Check/Fingerprinting - Applicants will need to complete a state police check, Protective Service clearance, fingerprinting (effective 1/1/08) and a local police clearance. A state police check and Protective Service clearance will also be required for all other adults in the home.
Income Statement - Applicants will be required to provide proof of your income, such as a copy of an income tax form, a paycheck stub, or a W-2 form.
Personal References - You will be asked to provide the names, addresses, and phone numbers of three unrelated individuals who can share their knowledge about your experience with children, the stability of your marriage and/or household, and your motivation to adopt.
Be sure to choose an agency you feel comfortable with. The Family Assessment process can feel intrusive, so it is important that you trust the people you work with. Your agency will become your strongest ally and advocate in this process.