Adoption agencies do not follow one set format to conduct a home study. They must adhere to the general regulations of their state, but they have the freedom to develop their own application packet, policies and procedures within those limits.
Some agencies require prospective parents to attend group orientation sessions or a series of training classes before completing an application. Others have their social worker start by meeting individually with family members and then ask them to attend educational meetings later on. Usually agency staff members are glad to answer any questions and to guide applicants through the process.
The home study itself is a written report of the findings of the social worker who has met with the applicants on several occasions, both individually and together, usually at the social worker's office. At least one meeting will occur in the applicant's home. If there are other people living in the home, they will also be interviewed by the social worker.
On average the home study process takes three to six months to complete, but it can take longer through public agencies or shorter through non-licensed facilitators. The home study process, the contents of the written report and the time it will take to complete vary from state to state and from agency to agency.
In general, the following information is included in the home study:
• Personal and family background -- including upbringing, siblings, key events and what was learned from them
• Significant people in the lives of the applicants
• Marriage and family relationships
• Motivation to adopt
• Expectations for the child
• Feelings about infertility (if this is an issue)
• Parenting and integration of the child into the family
• Physical and health history of the applicants
• Education, employment and finances -- including insurance coverage and childcare plans if needed
• References and criminal background clearances
• Summary and social worker's recommendation
Source : National Adoption Informaion Clearinghouse