Every hopeful adoptive parent who wishes to adopt a child unrelated to them — for example, through private domestic infant adoption, international adoption or foster care adoption — must first complete an adoption home study in North Carolina. A home study investigation is one of the most important requirements to become an adoptive family, as it is the best way that adoption professionals can determine whether a family can provide a safe and stable home for an adopted child. Only after this step is complete can a family start searching for adoption opportunities.
A home study for adoption can seem like an overwhelming requirement to new adoptive parents, for it is an in-depth exploration of a family’s life — including personal documentation, home visits and interviews. However, know that the adoption home study is such an involved process in order to protect the safety and interests of all involved in the adoption. Many adoptive parents have successfully completed this North Carolina adoption requirement and, with the assistance of an experienced adoption professional, you can, too.
While the Parker Herring Law Group PLLC does not provide adoption home study services, our experienced attorneys can answer any questions you have about this requirement and direct you to an appropriate home study provider when you contact our law firm at 919-821-1860. Attorney Parker Herring directs an agency that can perform home studies (A Child’s Hope) and she will provide you with a list of the agencies in North Carolina that also perform home studies.
To start, learn more about the basics of the North Carolina adoption home study process below.
The Different Steps of the N.C. Home Study Process
As mentioned, every prospective adoptive family in North Carolina will need to complete a home study for adoption, except for those completing a stepparent or relative adoption. It’s encouraged that hopeful adoptive families find a North Carolina adoption home study provider as soon as they decide that adoption is right for them. The home study investigation process can be a long and involved one and, the earlier you begin, the sooner you will be approved to adopt a child in North Carolina. Adoption home studies in North Carolina must be renewed every 18 months.
While each home study process will be slightly different, there are a few general steps involved in completing a home study for adoption in North Carolina:
- Find a home study professional.
The very first step of your home study investigation is selecting a home study provider that will guide you through every requirement of the adoption home study process. Adoptive families in North Carolina must work with a North-Carolina-licensed home study provider.Once you find a professional, they will usually require you to complete an application and information packet, after which you will be assigned a personal home study social worker, who will begin your personal home study.
- Gather documentation.
When your social worker first visits your home, you will need to give him or her certain documentation that proves your physical and mental fitness to become a parent to an adopted child. Because there are many documents required, this step is often the most arduous of the adoption home study process.The documentation required for your home study will confirm that you have no criminal record, that you are physically and mentally healthy enough to raise a child, that you can afford the expenses of adoption and child-rearing, and that you understand all the challenges and rewards of the adoption process. Essentially, this documentation will prove that you are ready to become parents.
Your adoption home study provider will likely provide you an adoption home study checklist to aid in you gathering all the proper documentation. In addition, they may also give you a sample letter of recommendation for adoption for the family/peer adoption reference letters that are required during this stage.
- In-Home Visit
Once you have gathered all of the documentation for your home study, you will be ready for an in-home visit from your social worker. This usually involves two parts: an inspection and an interview.When a social worker inspects your home, it is to determine whether your house is a safe environment for a child. Contrary to what adoptive families may have heard, a house doesn’t have to be absolutely perfect before the in-home inspection. A social worker takes this inspection as an opportunity to educate a hopeful adoptive family about the areas that can be improved in their home — so that appropriate safety measures may be put in place by the social worker’s next visit.
Usually, a social worker will look for fire escape routes, guns locked away, a fence around a pool, screens on all windows and other protections. This inspection process will be a partnership, so you can ask questions throughout the process, as well.
During your home visit, your social worker will also interview all adult members of your home. Through this, your adoption professional will be able to learn more about an adoptive family’s personalities and thoughts on adoption to make sure this family-building process is right for them. Your social worker may ask you about your childhood and the way you were raised, your desires and preferences for the adoption process, your knowledge about adoption, and more. For example, if you are planning to complete cross-cultural adoption, your social worker will ask about the preparations you’re making to raise a child of a different race.
Your home study professional will help you prepare for questions and then discuss topics like:
- Your infertility journey (if applicable)
- Your motivations to adopt
- Your parenting styles and skills
- Your relationship with your spouse (if applicable)
- Your beliefs about discipline
- Your community and neighborhood
- Post-Placement Requirements
In order for an adoption to be finalized in North Carolina, adoptive parents must undergo a post-placement assessment. This will usually be completed by your home study provider and will involve interviews to ensure that you and your family are adjusting well to your adoption placement. One visit has to occur within two weeks of the child being placed with you. The report to the court is to be finalized in 60 days.
How to Find a North Carolina Home Study Professional
As mentioned, adoptive families in North Carolina must be approved by a North-Carolina-licensed home study provider. Fortunately, there are several local home study professionals to choose from; you can view a list of them here.
In addition, our adoption attorney Parker Herring’s local adoption agency also provides adoption home study services for families throughout the state of North Carolina. Whether or not an adoptive family uses this agency adoption services, they can still take advantage of the home study and post-placement assistance provided by trained social workers. The agency and the law firm are two separate entities.
Like you should when choosing any kind of adoption professional, do your research and interview prospective home study professionals to determine which is the best match for your personal adoption goals and needs. Working with an experienced and appropriate professional from the beginning will help ensure that the many requirements of your North Carolina adoption home study are met and you can focus on finding an adoption opportunity that is perfect for your family.