Home Study Requirements
To be found eligible to adopt a child abroad and bring the child into the United States, you must also submit a home study with your application. A home study is a review of you, your family and your home environment. It assists U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), as well as a foreign country's adoption authority, in determining whether you and your home environment would be suitable for a child.
Home study preparation requirements vary. Each state has different rules that apply to home study preparers. There are also differences between home studies prepared for Convention adoptions and non-Hague Convention adoptions. If you intend to adopt from a country party to the Hague Adoption Convention, you must choose the country before the home study is conducted. In non-Convention adoptions, you may complete the home study before choosing a country. Additionally, home studies for Hague Convention Adoptions must be submitted to USCIS with Form I-800A. For non-Hague Convention adoptions, prospective adoptive parents may submit the home study within a year of filing the I-600A.
Home Study Requirements
Home studies must generally include the following:
- An in-person interview and home visit with the prospective adoptive parent(s). In addition, all adult members of the prospective parents' household must also be interviewed.
- An accurate evaluation of the physical, mental, and emotional capabilities of the prospective adoptive parent(s) and any other adult members of the household.
- A detailed description of the finances of the prospective adoptive parent(s), including but not limited to, income, debts, expenses, and the costs of supporting other members of the family.
- A detailed description of the prospective adoptive parent(s)' living conditions.
- If applicable, a detailed description of the prospective adoptive parent(s)' ability to provide proper care for a child with special needs.
- A description of counseling provided to the prospective adoptive parent(s) or plans for post-placement counseling.
- Specific assessment of how the above factors would affect the prospective adoptive parent(s)' ability to care for an adopted child, the number of children that the parent(s) may adopt, and any restrictions on the children who should be placed with the parent(s).
- A check of child abuse record, and inquiries into substance abuse, child or sexual abuse and/or domestic violence. These checks and inquiries must relate to each adult member of the prospective parents' household. The results of these checks and inquiries must be noted in the home study.
- If there were any previous rejections for adoptions, or if an unfavorable home study was ever prepared regarding any adult member of the prospective household, explanations must be obtained.
- A criminal history of each adult in the prospective parents' household - failure to disclose any record of arrest and/or conviction, history of any substance abuse, sexual or child abuse, or domestic violence may result in a denial of the I-600A or the I-800A.
Home Studies for Hague Convention Adoptions
Home studies prepared for adoptions from countries party to the Hague Adoption Convention must also comply with federal regulations (8 CFR 204.311) that have been written to ensure that the United States complies with the principles of the Convention. These regulations are designed to make sure that the home study is conducted professionally and that it is transmitted to the proper authorities expeditiously.
Specifically, U.S. regulations for Hague adoptions require that:
- Home studies are conducted by an accredited/approved adoption service provider, supervised provider, or an exempted provider. (A social work professional or organization that only performs a home study, and does not provide any other adoption services in the case is known as an exempted provider, and does not have to be accredited. However, the home study must subsequently be approved by an accredited adoption service provider.)
- The adoption service provider ensures that the home study is performed in accordance with state and federal law.
- The agency's employee who conducts the home study is authorized or licensed to complete a home study under the laws of the states in which he or she operates, and is also supervised by someone who has prior experience in family and children's services or intercountry adoption. Adoption service providers must ensure the timely transmission of the approved home study to the Central Authority or other competent authority of the child's country of origin.
- The expected total fee and estimated expenses for a home study are disclosed in writing.
- The home study includes a determination of the prospective adoptive parent(s)' suitability to adopt.
- When completed, a true copy of the home study must be transmitted to the Central Authority or other competent authority for adoption in the country from which the parents plan to adopt.
Home studies for Hague adoptions must be submitted to USCIS at the same time of filing your I-800A. More information about home studies for Hague adoptions, including information about home study updates and amendments, can be found in USCIS' instructions for filing Form I-800A.
Home Studies for non-Hague Adoptions
Home studies for non-Hague adoptions must also comply with separate, federal regulations that have been written to ensure that prospective adoptive parent(s) are eligible and suitable to adopt. These regulations are also designed to make sure that the home study is conducted professionally and that it is transmitted to the proper authorities expeditiously.
For more information about the home study requirements for non-Hague adoptions, please visit the Child Welfare Information Gateway.
- Instructions for filling out Form I-800A
- Instructions for filling out Form I-600A
- Child Welfare Information Gateway
- Guide for Social Workers to the Hague Adoption Convention
- Technical Guidance on becoming accredited or approved