Thursday, January 9, 2014

What we had to do for our Home Study

A lot of people have asked us about what a Home Study is. I thought I'd share what we had to do for our specific Home Study here on the blog to clear that up. Each Home Study Agency has their own policies and each State has different requirements, but a lot of it is universal, so if you are planning to adopt, your Home Study might be a little different than ours.

The Home Study is a process AND a written document. When we were shopping around for a Home Study Agency we found that they all averaged between 3 to 6 months to complete in Virginia. Here is what we had to do for ours:

James and I met with our social worker together for our first appointment where we signed a lot of paper work. She also gave us a list of homework to do. Part of that homework was for each of us to write an autobiography based on an outline she gave us. This had to be done before our next appointment with her. Each of us attended an individual appointment to discuss our autobiographies, reason why we want to adopt, and other questions.

Some of the other homework for the Home Study was:

1. Physicals for each member of the family including blood tests and TB tests and a physical form.
2. Send in a recent close up picture
3. Copies of Birth Certificates for all members of the family. (Originals had to be shown to social worker).
4. Copy of Marriage License (Original had to be shown to social worker).
5. Life Insurance (Each applicant has to have at least $100,000 in coverage).
6. Verification of income for previous two years (first page of 1040).
7. Completed financial form. (James was a champ and submitted our past budgets and created a future budget of all monthly expenses with documentation (copies of bills, statements, etc.) all finances had to be verified with documentation for example our bank accounts, our Mortgage, Cars, Rental Home Mortgage, Insurance, etc. Including statements of how much each of our assets are currently worth. Thankfully we do not carry any debt or the list would go on and on...)
8. Child Desired Form. (This one was hard because we had to check whether or not we would except a child whose mother smoked/drank during pregnancy. Family History of psychiatric disorders, and other issues. We did a lot of research on this, but filling out the form was hard.)
9. Official driving record transcripts of at least 10 years. (We both had to do the State of Virginia and I have a Texas driver license and James has a South Dakota driver license so we had to contact those states too.)
10. Proof of Vehicle liability insurance for all adults in the home.
11. A description of each applicant's daily schedule. Including planned leave from work after placement and child care plans following return to work. (I love being a stay-at-home mom!)
12. Back ground checks:
       *National Background Check (we went to the local police station and they fingerprinted us on our FBI form and then we mailed it in with a big check for processing.
       *Child Protective Services Central Registry Release of Information for all states we've lived in for the past 5 years. (VA, AL, TX, and SD. We had to contact each state and fill out forms for each one. It would be nice to have a National registry for this one!)
13. References from 3 personal friends (Thanks! you know who you are!), your employers, and our bishop.
14. Conspicuous Families online education certificate. (This is incase we adopt a child that is not of our race or that obviously looks adopted).
15. We had to read Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child by Patty Cogen. (411 pages of fun!)
16. Designate a guardian for our children. Proof of this was a copy of our wills. (Thanks sis!)
17. Shaken Baby Syndrome education (we are looking for older children, but you never know I guess...)
18. Corporal Punishment Statement (we had to sign that we would never use Corporal Punishment (spanking, etc.) on our children).
19. Safety Checklist and Written Emergency Preparedness Plan. (I had to write up a document including a floor plan of our house with what we would do in specific emergencies and where we would go incase of evacuation of community, state, etc. I also had to put together a 72 hour kit for each person in the house and an extensive first aid kit (list provided by social worker). Stuff I should have already done anyways.)
20. Copies of pet license and most recent pet vaccinations.
21. Attend Agency training (all day training at the Home Study Agency).
22. Proof of 10 hours of Hague International Adoption Education Training.

This list kept us busy for awhile! After we completed all of this our social worker visited our home and talked to our three boys about how they feel about us adopting. She also walked through our home with a three page checklist to make sure our home was suitable for our future children. This concludes the "process" of the Home Study for us. Now our social worker will write our Home Study Document. This document will be a part of the dossier we will submit to Ukraine. We hope to have the Home Study Document completed by the end of January.

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