Modern Family Matters

What Is an Adoption Home Study, and How Can You Prepare?

November 13, 2023 with Pacific Cascade Legal Season 1 Episode 117
Modern Family Matters
What Is an Adoption Home Study, and How Can You Prepare?
Show Notes Transcript

In this podcast episode, we sit down with Family Law Attorney, Kimberly Brown, to discuss why home studies are required for adoptions, the documentation that will be needed, topics that might be covered in an interview, and what a home study adoption professional will be looking for in the home so that you can prepare. In this interview, Kimberly covers the following:

  • Why are home studies required?
  • What kinds of documents need to be submitted?
  • What goes into the in-home visits?
  • What kinds of topics are covered in the interviews?
  • Does it help to try to prepare for the home study?

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Disclaimer: Nothing in this communication is intended to provide legal advice nor does it constitute a client-attorney relationship, therefore you should not interpret the contents as such.

Welcome to Modern Family Matters, a podcast devoted to exploring family law topics that matter most to you. Covering a wide range of legal, personal, and family law matters, with expert analysis from skilled attorneys and professional guests, we hope that our podcast provides answers, clarity, and guidance towards a better tomorrow for you and your family. Here's your host, Steve Altishin.

Steve Altishin  0:32  
I'm Steve Altishin, Director of Client Partnerships here at Pacific Cascade Legal. And I'm here with Kimberly Brown, our attorney, to talk about what goes on into an adoption home study. Hey, Kimberly, how you doing today?

Kimberly Brown  0:45  
I'm well, Steve, how about yourself?

Steve Altishin  0:47  
I'm doing well, today we got the sun shining.

Kimberly Brown  0:50  
That's true. A lot, it's a little warm.

Steve Altishin  0:54  
lSo et's start with kind of the why a little bit, and why our home study is required.

Kimberly Brown  1:04  
Let's do! The goal of a home study is to make sure that the prospective parents are prepared for the adoption, that they have an understanding of issues that might arise as they adopt a child, depending on the child's age, it's a time for the state of Oregon through certain agencies who come in and do the home study to see if you're financially prepared and able to take on a child, sometimes it's another child, you may already have one or two children and and you're seeking to add to your family. Um, and also to kind of assess you and if you're adopting with someone else, are mentally stable, because the state of Oregon takes it really seriously that they want to be able to have kids be well cared for with the party, the parents, the new parents, who are seeking to adopt a child. And sometimes people have the best intention, but not necessarily the deepest resources, whether it be financial or whether it be emotional, to handle adding another child or adding a child to their relationship. And so it's just I would say it is just a check point for everybody to take a deep breath and assess how ready are they adopting parents for this new child to come into their life. Sometimes, you know, the child has been in the family life for a while either in foster care, or if it's a relative adoption, that child may be living with you. I have several cases a year where the child was given to a family member by another family member. And even though the child has been with you for a year or two, there's still sometimes where we need to add the home study just to make sure that it's all going to be safe for everybody. And also, it's going to be a good match for everybody. 

Steve Altishin  2:52  
I like it, I like it. Well, it's called a study. And all I remember about studying is I had to read a lot and which leads me to, are there documents that need to be submitted, either before or at a home study?

Kimberly Brown  3:08  
There's two components to the homestudy. There's a request and for information, so the Document Submission part of it, and then there's also an in home visit, sometimes one in home visits sometimes more than one in home visit, just depending on issues in any particular adoption. The home study agency, who is going to do the home study for the state of Oregon and for the courts usually will ask for certain documents to be collected, and they need to be ready to send to the necessary departments at the Oregon State agencies that assist in monitor not just in the state of Oregon. documents you might need are your financial records and your health records. Oftentimes, we have elderly people who have been taken on kids, and they may not be physically able to care for a three year old or a toddler. They want to have personal references that act as a reference letter like what are your friends and family or acquaintances? Think about you personally? And also do they know your work as a parent? And how can they talk about that? You're going to need documents like your driver's license your birth certificate if you're married your marriage certificate. If you have pets, a sister sometimes can sound really funny, but how you care for your pets is often a good insight into how you're going to care for your children. And it sounds a little bit odd to equate your children with pets are your potential children with tests but if you take care of your pets, you take them to their medical appointments, you get them the vaccinations that they're supposed to have. That gives an indication that you're likely to follow through on medical issues with a child they're going to look to see if you have your home needs. You don't have to own a house to adopt a child but if you do, they're going to want to see that you have an interest in the property you're claiming to own. They're going to want to see you chew your cars do you have medical insurance again? All of these are not necessary for you to be able to adopt. But they want you to give them documents that show how stable and set you are in your home life. In your work life, you will have to do some fingerprinting and criminal background checks. Depending on whether you have lived in Oregon for a period of time, or you have lived in other states, you may need to do a state of Oregon criminal background check. And you may also need to do an FBI fingerprint check because that does a multi state check to see if you have any criminal issues. In other states, they want to make sure that there's been no reports of any kind of potential abuse. Or if there have been reports, it's been cleared that that didn't happen. And then I think the hardest part for most people is to do their adoptive state Autobiography of state honor. Biographer Octo by Oh, graphical sorry about that statements, which are detailed stories, you're telling the story of you, and they want to have you to be able to say, what is it about you that is leading you to this adoption? What is it about your history that makes you able to be a great parent to this particular child or children, and they want you to have written it about yourself. How can you tell the social service team that's doing this why you are the perfect parent for this potential adoption?

Steve Altishin  6:30  
Oh, my gosh, it makes, everything you said makes complete sense. You know, you can afford it, you know, morally, ethically, and just physically and emotionally ready. And that is really important stuff. You said there was a second part, and the home visits. So what goes into a home visit?

Kimberly Brown  6:51  
That often is, I think, more stressful for everybody, because some stranger is going to come into your home and judge your home. And that gives us a lot of angst. But what they want to do is, well, there's, there's a family interview component, obviously, they want to chat with you, they want to get to know you a little bit so that they can reflect in their home study, report, how you interacted with them. But they also want to look at the home to see if you've got basic health and safety precautions that are age appropriate for the child that you are adopting. If you have a toddler coming in and you have stairs, do you have dated stairs so that the toddler can't fall down or fall up the stairs or get up and then fall down, you want to make sure that if you have a little one that your electrical outlets are covered, because we all know that nothing is more attractive for a little child than those electrical things that they love to go stick their fingers in. They want to make sure that you have appropriate smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. And they want to make sure that you've got toxic substance stored away. So that can't get to things like chemicals or cleaners or medicines, are they out of the child's reach? If you have water on your property, such as a pool or a pond? Is it fenced off? And is there a way that if you're taking precautions so that the child can't climb over the fence or climb? Open the fence. So it's all about just sort of assessing your home, it's not about are you the cleanest person in the neighborhood and does your house sparkle when the social worker walks in, but they are going to look and make sure that you don't have dust bunnies from six years of living in your house, they're gonna you know, they want to assess it, that it's not, it's not unhealthy for a child to come in or be in in this environment. And they believe that children should live in a house that has lived them. They shouldn't feel like they can't be a child in the house. But but they also want to make sure that is health issues in the home that could be a danger to the child.

Steve Altishin  8:53  
Again, it's kind of like buying a new house.

Kimberly Brown  9:00  
Exactly, it is!

Steve Altishin  9:00  
You've got the inspection, but you talk about how they talk to you. So the interview process, that's got to be a little bit intimidating at times.

Kimberly Brown  9:09  
It can be. I think they'll if you relax into who you are and why you're doing this, I think most people are entering into an adoption with a lot of optimism and they really are looking forward to becoming a parent or be adding to their family and becoming a parent to more children. So they want to know your feelings about adoption. What is why are you adopting? Why do you want to adopt? How do you feel about having a child that's adopted rather than you know, if you don't have a child that's a biological child because you cannot because that change how you feel about this child? You're adopting this we're talking to you about your parenting techniques. Again, it is not that you you have to have a The best example of it but they weren't talking to you about what do you seek our best ways to help a child develop and form with boundaries with being able to interact appropriately with keeping them safe, and one of the ways that they actually assess this is how are you going to talk to your family members about the adoption to your friends about the adoption, because how you how comfortable you are and how you share that information with your family and friends, is great insight into how you feel about the adoption yourself. So they're going to talk to you about, you know, what's your plan on how you're talking about the adoption to your family more? And they will also ask you, how do you intend to talk to this child about your adoption?

Steve Altishin  10:30  
There's a lot going on, I mean, between the inspection and the interview, and it is called a home study. So I guess my bad pun question is, do you have to study for a home study? Do you need to prepare?

Kimberly Brown  10:43  
I you know, I use the word prepare for the home study, because I think a lot of us are intimidated by our memories of having to study for school. So I think that if you if you prepare for your home, study it like anything, when you are prepared it goes much smoother, the process goes smoother, and it goes sometimes a little faster if you have prepared for the home study, and to get that home study complete, because it's an essential part of many adoptions. And if you don't have that you can't go forward. So the social worker who comes into your home is going to know that you've been preparing for the home study, you're going to have their documents that they requested, ready, if you haven't already sent them in, then you're going to have information that you can share with them about yourself about your financial issues about your relationship with either your spouse or partner, or you're doing it on your own what kind of support systems you're going to have how you've talked to your any other children currently in the home. And that's going to really have a positive impact on the report, because they're going to be looking at is this person ready for a child and the fact that you are able to talk about what you've done, and how you're preparing for this, lets them see that you are a person who doesn't just enter into big changes irrationally too fast without thinking it through, and that you have a good grasp about what's going on, and what's gonna be expected of you as a parent to this child.

Steve Altishin  12:09  
Wow. And I would imagine, just by sort of preparing, it can make it a little less stressful. Hmm.

Kimberly Brown  12:17  
I know for me, and I suspect this is true for so many people, is like when I get ready to go to court, if there's a big difference, if I'm prepared for my trial, if I've looked over all of the evidence, if I have reviewed what the story is, I feel much less stressed out in court, I feel much less stressed out at any exam if I've studied, and I feel much less stressful about trying something new if I've looked into what's going to happen when I try something new. So you're gonna feel better if you've prepared and you're able and ready to talk about all the reasons why you are the best person to be the parent to this child.

Steve Altishin  12:52  
I love it. I love it. Thank you, Kimberly, thank you so much for sitting down to talk about what goes into an adoption home study. And it's just great information. So thanks for being on. And thank you everyone else for joining us today. If anyone has further questions, of course, please feel free to contact us. We will get you connected with an attorney who can help you and until next time, stay safe, stay happy, and be well.

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