Good Morning Y’all!
I thought I’d hop on to share some good news with you; we have finished our adoption home study, and are officially certified to foster and adopt in the state of NY! We are super excited to have completed this step, and to be moving forward!! I definitely wasn’t expecting our home study to be approved before the end of the year so when I call came in I was shocked and so overjoyed!
I’ve gotten a couple of people asking just what a home study entails so I thought I’d share that here with you today. Each home study will vary a little bit depending on which state you live in and which agency you go through. The cost will also vary as well. Typically in NY the cost of a home study ranges from $0-$10,000 depending on if yours is done through the county for foster care ($0) or through a private agency ($5,000 to $10,000). This is an out-of-pocket cost adopting couples incur, and it is a required step for all adoptions.
Our home study included the following required steps and paperwork:
- Basic application with our names, dates of birth, address, phone numbers, educational information, and SSN
- Written directions to our home for the agency worker. Don’t ask me why they can’t just use GPS as I was confused on this step too.
- Photographs of ourselves, our pets, and the outside of our home. If we had children we would have had to provide photos of them too.
- A form about our marriage; when and where we were married, our thoughts/feelings on our marriage, and a copy of our marriage license.
- A form about our finances; how much we make net/gross individually and as a couple, our monthly bills (what for and amount), other anticipated monthly expenses (what for and amount), any debt (what for, amount, monthly payments, how long until it’s paid off), any loans (what for, amount, monthly payments, how long until its paid off, and which bank it’s through), if you have any stocks/bonds/etc and the amounts, and what you have in savings. We also had to answer questions on our finances like how big financial decisions are made, who does the majority of the finances, what our budget is like if we have one, if we feel like we can take on the expense of caring for children, and how that will change our finances.
- A health questionnaire; if we have any preexisting conditions (what they are, when they were diagnosed, where/by whom, and if we are on medications for them). What medications we are on and the dosages. If we have any diagnosed mental health conditions (what, when were they diagnosed, where/by whom, and if we are on medications for them). We also had to answer questions about if we feel like preexisting conditions prevent us from parenting in any way. Each of us also had to get a physical and TB test done. The TB test had to come back negative, and the doctor had to submit a statement on our health and check off that we are fit/unfit to parent with a date and signature.
- Because we live in the country on a well our well water had to be tested and come back negative for parasites, diseases, and harmful chemicals/compounds. Basically we needed to prove we had safe, clean drinking water.
- We had to write letters to both the future birth parent and foster/adoptive child.
- We had to provide front and back copies of our drivers licenses and a copy of our driving records.
- We had to provide proof of health, renters/homeowners, and car insurance along with details about each policy. We were required to have a certain dollar amount of coverage in each area.
- Because we have a dog we had to fill out a form stating her name, gender, breed, age, and weight. We also had to submit copies of proof of rabies vaccination and vet records.
- If we had children we would have had to fill out a form stating their name, birth date, age, gender, where they go to school and school contact information, and answer questions about them. One form for each child.
- We had to complete four background check forms. Three needed basic information and were for different local law enforcement agencies. One needed basic information plus every address we’d lived at for the past 28 years and the dates we lived there (month/year to month/year).
- We each had to get fingerprinted.
- We each had to fill out a form providing information on where we work, our job title, how long we’ve worked there, what we do in our job role, our hours we work, the address of our place of employment, and the contact information for our supervisor.
- We had to submit a floor plan of our home with measurements and labeled rooms.
- We had to demonstrate emergency preparedness; 72 hour kits, first aid supplies, and other emergency equipment. That each room (except bathrooms) has two exits and they are kept clear. If the second exit is a window we have to demonstrate that it is either close enough to ground level to exit safely or that we have one of those window escape ladders kept near the window for each window used as an exit. We had to state our emergency evacuation plans and meeting places for each type of emergency. We also had to provide a minimum of two emergency contacts who would know our whereabouts in case of any evacuation.
- We had to read an article about secondhand smoke and sign off saying we had read it and will not/do not smoke around children.
- Because we have firearms we had to provide information on the type (make/model) of each gun, the serial numbers, their use, and the location of each firearm in the home. We also had to sign a form stating they are stored properly (unloaded and locked with ammo kept separately). Beau had to provide a front/back copy of his pistol permit and state ID as he is a NYS officer. Because Beau is an officer he had to sign a form that exempts him from some of the firearms regulations for foster/adoption.
- We each had to write and submit an autobiography answering questions about the discipline style our parents used, our thoughts on our upbringing, our thoughts on our parents marriage(s), which parent we think we most resemble and why, our relationship with our parents growing up and now, our relationship with our siblings growing up and now, our thoughts on child-rearing, and our thoughts on religion along with information on which denomination we belong to. For each member of our family (ourselves, spouse, children, biological parents, adopted parents, step parents, biological siblings, adopted siblings, step siblings, and half siblings) we had to provide their name, current address, age, date of birth, educational level obtained, and if they have any health conditions.
- We each had to take a 7 week parenting course where we had to read and do activities in a workbook and attend a 2 hour weekly class where we discussed what we read/did in the workbook. They took copies of our answers to workbook questions.
- We had to fill out a form answering a bunch of questions about children and parenting. Basically stating that we understand parenting is hard and expensive, and yes we really want to do this. We also had to answer questions about how we’d handle different parenting situations.
- We had to have a home safety inspection where we needed to demonstrate that our home is clean, in good working order, and safe. We were required to have a few smoke detectors in the main living areas and one in each bedroom. We also had to have at least one CO detector and one fire extinguisher. We had to demonstrate that they all work and aren’t expired. We also had to have cabinet locks, outlet covers, and baby gates. Medications had to be in the original child safety lid containers and in locked boxes. They checked to make sure no appliances were plugged into extension cords or had frayed cords. They didn’t “fail” us on the following but stated we should look into door knob safety locks because we have lever handles, edge protectors for sharp furniture corners, and anti tip furniture straps for some larger furniture pieces. Our fridge and freezer have to be kept at a minimum of a certain temp. Our water heater had to be turned down and isn’t allowed to be above a certain temp. We also aren’t allowed to have any space heaters of any type. If we had any type of fireplace, wood stove, or pellet stove we would have been required to demonstrate other safety precautions.
- Because we have a basement we had to sign a form stating we would not make a child live in the basement. Not even kidding.
- We had to be interviewed by a social worker; individually and then as a couple.
- Because Beau legally changed his name he had to provide evidence of the name change.
- Each of us had to fill out a form stating our birth date and information on where we were born. Because Beau was born out-of-state he had to submit extra documentation.
- We had to write a statement about our thoughts on what we’d do for childcare once we have a child; do we have maternity/paternity leave and would we use it, would someone stay home or would the child go to daycare, etc.
- We had to demonstrate we had a space for the child and either have it set up or demonstrate intent to set it up.
- We each had to submit a copy of our most recent W2 or paystub.
- Lastly we had to write a statement about our intent to foster and adopt, and why we want to. We also had to write what kind of child we’d be interested in as far as age, race, gender, and ability/disability level on a scale.
Phew! It was so much paperwork to be sure! I think that covers everything we had to do, but if I forgot something I’ll update this post when I remember. Strangely enough the one thing we didn’t have to do/have that surprised me was CPR/First Aid certification.
If you have any questions leave them in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer them!