The homestudy is the first step in the adoption process. In every state the homestudy is done a little differently, but all of them have the some combo of paperwork, trainings, and interviews. The homestudy can take anywhere from 2 months to 6 months to complete. Without it, you cannot adopt.
Choosing the right agency matters
The homestudy is a little instrusive, it should not be offensive though. Walk away if your agency's process or paperwork is offensive to you. For example, they can ask about your marriage or important relationships - questions they would ask any family - but should not dig deep in a way that you say to yourself "would they be asking these same questions to a different sex couple" if you are a same sex couple or "would they be asking these same questions to a single mom" if you are a single dad. Also if the documents where you fill in your info are labeled adoptive mom and adoptive dad or the contracts aren't inclusive (some documents are state mandated, so I'm talking about agency created documents), then how affirming are they really? Pay attention to the small things and if they are big things to you, walk away.
Choosing the right time is important too
The homestudy process is the first step. It takes time, organization, and focus to get it done. But also, you want to make sure you and your partner or you and your support system are on the same page. The homestudy process includes both of you (unless you are single) and so if one of you is not on board, that will be realized quickly by the Assessor and the team as well as the mama you are matched with.
There will be a lot of paperwork and documents needing collected
This bears repeating. It can feel a little daunting. Documents needing complete may include medical documents to be signed by your doctor, financial documents with attachments, safety checks of your home including a potential fire inspection, reference letters, background checks, etc. Also they may ask for copies of birth certificates, driver's license, social security cards, marriage license, divorce decrees, bills, etc.
There will be training and it might suck a little
All agencies handle training differently. Some do it in groups, some solo, some on-line. Training can be anywhere on average from 10 hours to 70 hours. It includes things like parenting to cultural competency to open adoption. Thought it might suck a little, we encourage you to see the value in it. Understanding adoption matters.
Expect the homestudy to be the easy part, and the wait to be the hard part
Yep. It is true. You will get the homestudy packet and think this is a lot, but I promise you that you will miss those docs once they are complete and all you have left is the wait. Wait time can be one day to 2+ years. This is because nationally there are 36 waiting families for every one baby available for adoption. Also just 1% of pregnant people are choosing adoption. It's not a matter of will it happen, it's a matter of when it will happen and that is hard when you are in it. So patience and a good support system is key here … and maybe wine?!
Molly Rampe Thomas is founder and CEO of Choice Network, an adoption agency that trusts people and their choices. The agency is on a mission to change the definition of family by welcoming all pregnant people, all children, all families, and all choices. Choice Network truly believes in the power of love and never backs down to fight for good. For more information, visit choicenetworkadoptions.com