The home study is a requirement for all adoptions. Prior to a child being placed in your home, you must receive a state approval. This report, in turn, is used for all legal aspects of the adoption. It is shared with attorneys, agencies and state officials, then presented during the adoption finalization process.
Home studies assess a family’s readiness and understanding of adoption with each state having specific requirements for interviews, documents and educational training.
New York State Requirements
As a general state requirement, candidates approved for home studies must be at least 18 years of age. They should be in overall good physical health, and deemed responsible and energetic enough to satisfy all future parental duties. Prospective adoptive parents can be single or married. New York State does not discriminate against race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation.
Per state law, prospective adoptive parents are subject to child abuse, criminal and medical clearances.
Home Studies in New York
There are two different home study processes available in New York — private and agency. Both of these options have their own pros and cons, and it’s up to the individual couple to decide what’s best for them. It also depends on what type of adoption you are pursuing. So, it is strongly recommended to work with your adoption professional or attorney to help you determine what would be the most suitable choice for the family.
All home study processes include interviews and a home visit. During the visits, a social worker or another licensed professional will meet with the individual couple — together, then separately – as well as meet with any other household members. The social worker will observe and assess the behavior or any young children in the house, conduct a home and safety inspection, and gather all required documents for review.
Private Home Study
This type of home study is when a family is working with an attorney for an independent private adoption. A social worker, deemed as a disinterested party, conducts the process with the prospective adoptive family. As aforementioned, social workers follow local court requirements and gather all the necessary documentation needed. The paperwork can include, but is not limited to: reference letters, proof of income, and medical history. Additional requests for documentation or adoptive parent training vary.
Private home studies in New York require a pre-adoption court process, which certifies and approves prospective candidates to adopt. The process is completed through your local Family or Surrogate Court, and includes child abuse and criminal clearances. Your attorney will file the petition to start this process, and your social worker will submit the home study report. Once approved, the certification is good for 18 months.
Families typically find their social worker through their attorney. However, you may reach out to your local Family or Surrogate Court for recommendations. Any social worker performing your home study must be a disinterested party and should be knowledgeable in adoption and adoptive parenting.
From start to finish, private home studies can be completed generally in several weeks.
Agency Home Study
An agency home study is required for any adoption where the sending state is an “agency state.” In other words, while New York may allow a private home study, you may need an agency home study to clear the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) requirements. The ICPC is what would allow you to bring your child back into New York, if the adoption was across state lines.
Home studies through an adoption agency have many components. For instance, they often require a larger amount of paperwork and educational training than a private home study; but, they take into account all who are involved and what type of adoption it is — international, domestic, interstate, private or foster care. They also made a point to ensure that each candidate has criminal and child abuse clearances. Overall, though, the purpose is the same: to make sure the family is prepared for the adoption process and adoptive parenting, with a specific recommendation for the type of child.
Regarding the educational training portion, adoptive parents are typically required to complete 10-12 hours of education courses, plus a baby/child CPR course. Foster care requires MAPP training and international adoption Hague Training. Depending on your process and agency, training can be done online or through attending in-person training events. Upon completion, adoptive parents will have a wealth of information pertaining to the adoption process they are pursuing, and information in regards to parenting an adopted child.
A huge benefit of choosing to do a home study through an adoption agency is that they offer post-placement support and services.
Home studies through an agency often take anywhere between 6-8 weeks to complete. With Adoption Choices of New York, prospective adoptive parents are able to review their finished report prior to it being finalized.
Post Placement Visits
Otherwise known as “Post-Adoption Home Studies,” these visits occur after a child is placed into your care. The social worker comes back to see how everyone is adjusting, and generates reports that are then forwarded onto the professionals involved in your adoption. Each home visit includes interviews with all family members and observations of your relationship with the new baby/child. A medical for the child is required for each visit as well.
Post Placement reports are done by either the agency or social worker who did your home study. If you chose to do a private home study, but want post placement care services, you’ll need an agency’s help. You can usually ask your social worker for recommendations, and if they have any affiliations with agencies in New York who could assume the supervisory role for this.
Adoption Choices of New York
As always, for any questions, concerns or additional information regarding your personal circumstances, please reach out to your adoption attorney or local agency. Here at Adoption Choices of New York, we are ready and willing to assist in any way.
For more information on adoption or if you are currently in the process of adopting a baby and have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact us via our website: Adoption Choices of New York.
Support Adoption Choices
Adoption Choices, Inc. is partnering with Crowdrise, a fundraising website for nonprofits, to help our adoptive parents and birth parents with much needed financial assistance. We understand that expenses keep clients from fulfilling their dreams. Both with birth parents making a plan for adoption, and with adoptive parents growing their family. It is our mission to provide financial assistance through grants and scholarships, awarded annually in November, in honor of National Adoption Month. Funds assist adoptive parents with matching and placements, adoption finalization and helping birth mothers improve their lives through higher education — and much more.
But, we can’t do it alone. Please read up on our programs and donate money where you are able. Your donation will make a huge impact.
About the Author
Rachel Robertson is a published journalist, book editor, certified Publishing Specialist, and aspiring novelist. She graduated from Central Washington University (CWU) in March 2018, having found her writing voice within the Creative Nonfiction genre and grew to work as a freelance book editor for small presses all across the United States.
In June 2018, she embarked on an internship with Virginia Frank and came on board with Adoption Choices Inc., Not for Profit 501(c)(3), in December 2018. Between her mutual passion with adoption and surrogacy, and her own personal history with adoption, Rachel is excited to research and share topics each week that will spread awareness and better serve the faithful patrons of Adoption Choices Inc.
When Rachel isn’t haunting her local Starbucks or Barnes and Noble, she’s avidly pouring over her Writer’s Digest subscription or cozying up with a cup of tea and book. She currently resides in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her beloved wife and Border Collie.
“421.16 Adoption Study Criteria.” New York Codes, Rules and Regulations, Thomson Reuters Westlaw, 2019, govt.westlaw.com/nycrr/Document/I50c85113cd1711dda432a117e6e0f345?viewType=FullText&originationContext=documenttoc&transitionType=CategoryPageItem&contextData=%28sc.Default%29.
“New York Consolidated Laws, Domestic Relations Law – DOM § 115-d.” Findlaw, codes.findlaw.com/ny/domestic-relations-law/dom-sect-115-d.html.