Adopting a child is such a selfless and fulfilling act – but that does not make the process any less overwhelming. There are quite a few laws and regulations you need to abide by, and the state of Texas also requires you to go through a home study before you are officially cleared and considered a fit adoptive family.
When you do not have the help of an experienced San Antonio adoption attorney on your side, the process can be significantly more complicated. However, a family law attorney who handles adoption will help you through all the paperwork and prepare you for everything leading up to that home visit.
Why does there need to be a home study for adoptions?
When you are going through the process of adopting a child, a home study is one of the most important steps. During the study, a licensed social worker will come to your home and essentially see what it is like to live with you and your family. They will check out your living conditions, ask family members questions, and essentially just make sure that your home is safe and suitable for a new child. If these kinds of checks were not completed, adopted children could be walking into potentially unsafe environments with members of their new family who may not be on board with their sudden arrival.
Preparing for a home study in San Antonio
Whether you are pursuing a private, CPS, international, stepparent, or relative adoption, the home study will always be one of the last steps. And when you have come that far in the adoption journey, it is understandable that you want everything to go perfectly. Try to be as prepared as possible for what’s coming; it will likely make the visit go smoother.
Paperwork can be the longest and hardest part of an adoption application for San Antonio parents-to-be. It may only take a few days to process, but the state requires so much information that you may feel like you’re scrambling to gather it all. However, the state probably will not even schedule a home study until everything has been completed. They will likely ask you for things like:
- Driver’s license
- Marriage certificate
- Birth certificate
- Previous adoption decrees
- Cleared background checks
- Recent health records
- Financial records
- Personal references
- Statement from each adoptive parent
You may be immediately ready to welcome a new child into your family with open arms, so make sure to fill out everything the state needs as quickly, and accurately, as possible.
What to expect when the social worker arrives
There are two aspects to the home study to keep in mind: the family interview and the home inspection. Families need to pass both of these areas before they are approved to move forward in the adoption process in San Antonio.
The social worker’s goal during the family interview is to get to know you and your family as people. They will ask you about your hobbies, parenting techniques, relationships, careers, and even your own childhood experiences. They want to use this time to ensure your entire family is ready and capable of bringing in a new child—even your own children. They may ask about:
- Individual upbringings – Did anything you experienced as a child impact the way you parent now?
- Feelings about adoption – Why is this something you want to do? How do you want your adopted child to feel about it?
- Family dynamic – How do you plan on fitting your new child in with your established family?
- Racial and cultural knowledge – You may be adopting a child from a race or culture different from yours. How do you plan to learn more about theirs and encompass it at home?
An inspection during a home study for adoption is very similar to a home inspection before you buy a house. The social worker is acting as a home inspector, in this case, by walking through your house to ensure everything is clean, safe, and in working order. Especially if you are planning to adopt a younger child, they want to be sure that you took proper safety precautions by childproofing common hazard areas. Safety aside, they also want to make sure that you created a designated space for the child. They need to have their own bed and enough space to put their things. Social workers will also look for things like:
- Child proofing with outlet covers, cabinet locks, gated stairs, and door locks. Having a solid plan for child proofing may also suffice, but it is better to do it ahead of their visit.
- Smoke detectors – a minimum of one on every level of the home.
- Carbon monoxide detectors – a minimum of one permanently installed outside of sleeping areas
- Railings must be installed with affixed spindles on each staircase.
- Pool fences must be a certain height around a pool with a gate that automatically shuts and latches.
- Screened windows to hinder children from climbing out of them.
- Secured firearms must be safely locked and stored in a proper safe with all ammunition stored and locked in a separate safe.
- Hard-to-reach hazards like medicines, cleaning supplies, and other harmful chemicals should be stored up high.
- Overall maintenance of facilities – everything in working order and cleaned regularly. There must also be a functional kitchen and bathroom.
- Bedrooms, guaranteeing the adopted child will have a proper bedroom with their own bed with storage space and a window.
Happily, if the social worker does see anything that could potentially be concerning to them, they will provide you with an opportunity to fix it. However, this will push things back since the social worker will need to come back out for another home study to ensure the issue has actually been fixed. It is best to stay in close contact with your case worker as well as a San Antonio adoption attorney to know exactly what to do before your home study. This will help make sure you pass with flying colors the very first time.
If you are trying to adopt a child, you could use the help of a professional adoption lawyer on your side. Adopting is a long, confusing process that can get complex quickly. Grable Grimshaw PLLC is skilled with a variety of adoption cases and is here to help. Schedule a consultation today by calling our office or completing our contact form.