When you contact an agency, you may be invited to attend its orientation session. Here you and other applicants will learn about the agency's procedures and available children, and receive the application forms. The agency will review your completed application to determine whether to accept you as a client. If accepted by a private agency, you will probably have to pay a registration fee at this point.
The next step is the preplacement inquiry known as the home study or the family assessment. The home study is an evaluation (required by state law) of you as a prospective adoptive family and of the physical and emotional environment into which the child would be placed. It is also a preparation for adoptive parenthood. It consists of a series of interviews with a social worker, including at least one interview in your home. During this process you will, with the social worker's assistance, consider all aspects of adoptive parenthood and identify the type of child you wish to adopt. Some agencies use a group approach to the educational part of the adoption preparation process because it creates a built-in support group among adoptive families.
Many of the questions asked in the home study are personal and may seem intrusive if you are not expecting them. These questions are necessary for the social worker's evaluation of you as a prospective parent. Some of the questions are about your income, assets and health, and the stability of the marriage (if married) and/or family relationships.
Physical exams to ensure that you are healthy are usually required. Some states require that prospective adoptive parents undergo a fingerprint and background check to ensure that you do not have a felony conviction for domestic violence or child abuse. A home study is usually completed in a few months, depending upon the agency's requirements and the number of other clients.
Source: National Adoption Information Clearinghouse