What's Involved in a Home-Study?


After you fill out your application and sign the contract with your adoption agency, the next big step is completing your home-study. Every agency does their home-study process a bit differently, with different requirements of what needs to be done when. The details in this post are specific to MLJ Adoptions, but generally speaking most agency processes will be similar.

The first part of the home-study process is your responsibility to complete. In order for your home-study coordinator (HSC) to complete the home-study, you must provide certain documentation first. This documentation includes:

  • an autobiographical statement describing your childhood, your adulthood, your marriage, your relationship with children, your pregnancy history, and your current situation
  • a medical physical completed by your primary care provider
  • a financial worksheet detailing your income, debt and assets, and monthly expenses, as well as supporting documentation like three years of tax returns and other financial statements
  • a form listing your references and their contact information, as well as four letters of reference
  • personal identification documents, like birth certificates, passports, marriage certificates, etc.
  • if you have pets, they will need a veterinarian report
  • criminal backgrounds checks from every state or country where you’ve lived since you were 18 years old
  • local criminal checks for any place you’ve lived in the past five years
  • child protective services checks for any county, state or country you’ve lived in since age 18
  • a description of the characteristics of the child you wish to adopt
  • a questionnaire regarding mental health symptoms

Once all of these documents are gathered or requested, you will assemble them in a binder. Page protector sleeves will make life easier on your home-study coordinator, so I recommend using them. There are ones designed to hold multiple pages that open down one side. These are especially nice!

Once your binder is complete, a home-study coordinator will contact you to schedule the home-study interview. This interview will last from 2-3 hours and include a tour of your home. The HSC will be assessing your readiness to parent an adopted childhood, the strength of your support network and your marriage (if relevant), any questions or unclear statements in your autobiography, and your mental health.

One goal of the interview is to identify anything that could be troubling to US Citzenship and Imigration Services (USCIS) or the sending country. These things vary from country to country, but in general arrest histories, physical health problems, or mental health problems will need to be addressed. Guns in the home are okay, just make sure they are safely stored.

Once the interview is over, the HSC will draft the 8-10 page document that will describe your family and the type of child you are approved to adopt. The type of child approved is extremely important, as this is the legal description that your referred child must match in order for you to get a visa and bring your child home. You will have an opportunity to review the rough draft of the document, and then it will be printed, signed and notarized.

Once the home-study is complete, then you can begin to work on assembling your dossier and completing your education. Pay attention to future blog posts about successfully completing your education and tips for the dossier process!

Photo Credit: nebojsa mladjenovic

For more information about MLJ Adoptions’ international adoption programs, please click here.

MLJ Adoptions is a Non-Profit, Hague-Accredited adoption service provider located in Indianapolis, Indiana, working in Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Pacific Isles. We are passionate about serving children in need.