One way to alleviate stress about the home study process is to choose the right social worker. Most often, your adoption attorney will provide you with a list of licensed social workers for this purpose. It is a good idea to speak with the social worker and get a feel for whether you would like to work with this person before hiring them. Listed below are questions to answer before hiring a social worker to prepare your home study.
1. What is your accreditation in social work and have you prepared adoption home studies before? You do not want your home study to be the social worker’s first, as there are specific state/legal requirements that must be included in an adoption home study and if left out will cause delays in your adoption process.
2. Have you worked with my attorney or agency before? How recently? It is important that the social worker and attorney collaborate during the adoption process and helpful if they have a prior working relationship.
3. How much does the home study cost? Make sure to ask about additional fees for Post Placement visits, which may be required by the court, or by different state laws, after you bring the baby home. If you move or change jobs will it necessitate an updated report and if so, will that be an additional fee?
4. How long will the home study interview take? Ask about the steps of the process and how long after the home interview does it normally take to complete the home study report?
5. Will you have an opportunity to review the report before it goes to the attorney or to the court? If regulations prohibit you from seeing the report prior to its submission to court, what happens if there are inaccuracies?
6. Who owns the home study? If you work with an agency to obtain a home study but ultimately decide to pursue private, independent adoption, will the agency share your report and original documents with your attorney and send whatever necessary to the court for your pre-certification process? Will there be any additional fees for working with a private attorney, rather than pursuing an agency adoption or vice versa?
7. Can the social worker do the necessary clearances for the home study? In a private adoption, the court will obtain criminal and abuse clearances but some states require additional federal clearances and it is occasionally necessary to have an agency back a social worker’s home study. Does the social worker have an agency which will back her home study and obtain clearances if necessary?
8. Will the social worker provide you with adoption and parenting resources? Will she be available to talk through your worries during and even after the adoption process?
There are many wonderful social workers, well versed in adoption, who are available to be a part of your unique journey. Do your homework!