Home Study for International Adoption

What is a Home Study?

The home study is done by a licensed social worker and supervised by an accredited agency to ensure the quality that is required for international adoption. 

The social worker’s job is to get to know you, and tell you about the what needs the children may have due to growing up in orphanages.  Together, you’ll determine what child is a good fit for your family.

The home study process will also attempt to show that your home is a safe place for a child, so background checks will be done.  You’ll also do a physical to ensure that you are able to take care of a child. 

In the end, it is about 10 – 20 page document describing who you are and how your home is a good place for a child.  It is used by the foreign country to match you with a child. 

Our social worker, Jennifer, whose picture is next to the text has been with our agency for over 12 years.  She will do or review your home study.  All of our clients love her! 

If you’re a US Citizen living abroad, we can still do your home study!  

Jennifer is the agency's LMFT Social Worker Supervisor since 2008.

Frequently Asked Questions?

How Much is a Home Study?

The home study typically costs between $3,000 and $5,000.  Could be more in some states.  Agencies that charge less might not be accredited.  This would require an accredited agency to review and approve the study which can cost between $800 and $2,300.  So, make sure to clarify with your home study agency if they need to be supervised? Learn more about how we help our parents raise money for their adoptions with crowdfunding.

Home Study Fees

Home Study Fees
Application$500Due with applicaiton
Payment 1$1,750Due shortly after application w contract
Payment 2$1,750Due when home study is complete

When Should I Start the Home Study? 

Contrary to common belief, we certainly don’t recommend starting your home study first.  Yes, the home study is one of the first things you’ll do, but it is a part of an overall strategy to achieve your goal.  You shouldn’t start on the first part just because it is the “first part”.  You should pick a country and an agency first. 

International adoption in the US is heavily regulated and adoption agencies are accredited in order to ensure a certain qualify of service.  So, an adoption agency has to supervise the process from start to finish in order for your home study to serve the purpose you want it to. 

Though it is true that almost any social worker or home study agency can do your home study, it needs to be supervised by an accredited agency if it will get you the approval you need for the next steps.  Not all home study agencies are also adoption agencies.  Read more about this important step of working with an ASP on the US Dept of State’s site.  And also here.  

Furthermore, even if the home study agency is accredited and able to help you meet US federal requirements, it does not mean that it will necessarily meet the foreign country’s specific requirements.  USCIS talks about this here.

For those reasons, we strongly recommend that you understand the importance of starting things off the right way with the professionals who are qualified to help you.  

What Is The Difference Between an Adoption Agency and a Home Study Agency?

An adoption agency is considered a “Primary Provider of Adoption Services”.  It is entrusted to them to navigate your process through the Hague Convention both in the US and abroad.  

The home study could be done by a local agency, who is simply licensed in the state.  They do not necessarily need to be Hague Accredited.  They could be Hague Accredited, but it is not required, because the “Primary Provider of Adoption Services” is to ensure that non accredited providers are in compliance with the standards

Even if the home study agency is accredited, (search who is Hague Accredited Here) it does not necessarily mean they’re the “primary provider” if the adoption agency is in a different state. 

We know this gets complicated, so if you’ve any questions, please feel free to call us at 704 527 7673. 

Why Do I Need an Accredited Agency?

You need an accredited agency because everyone in the Hague convention, US and foreign countries won’t work with an agency unless they’re Hague accredited. 

International adoption is heavily regulated for the protection of the kids in accordance with Hague Standards.  US is a member to the Hague, as are Bulgaria and Poland.  Here is complete list of Hague Countries.

An accredited agency is monitored by the authorities to ensure certain standards are kept for the protection of the kids.   Search accredited agencies here. 

What Is a CIS Approval?

For international adoption, when a home study is done, you have to submit it to USCIS for their approval. This is done for the safety of the kids in compliance with the Hague Convention

USCIS requires that you submit the Form I800A with your home study.  They have instructions about how to fill it out here.  We do too. Ours are on this page.  We also have instructions for Supplement 3.  Once you advance further in the process, you will also need instructions for I-800 as well.

The fees USCIS charges to review your application are listed here. 

Who Should Do My Home Study?

If you’re in North Carolina, we can do your home study.  If you’re elsewhere, but would like us to be your adoption agency, we’ll help you find a home study agency whom we’d supervise to ensure you meet the standards.  In our 19 years experience we’ve partnered up with numerous agencies in most states.  Here is a few agencies that we know and have worked with over the years.  

What is a Background Check?

The social worker, with the assistance of the supervising adoption agency, will run a background check in order to describe if you have any criminal history. If a record exists, the social worker will describe it and explain how it has been resolved. Having a record does not automatically disqualify adoptive parents.  We often see  teenage/college mistakes that are a part of our parents’ records.  Most often such incidents don’t pose a problem in the approval process.  Of course each case is different so we are not trying to generalize.  We’d say call us at 704 527 7673 and tell us about it, we’ll let you know what we think based on our 19 years experience.  To read more about the background checks process, we recommend USCIS site. 

A common background check is run through the FBI and the process is explained here

What Are Child Abuse Clearances?

Each state usually has a Child Abuse Registry.  As part of the clearance process, the social worker will submit a request to each state and foreign country you’ve lived in since your 18th birthday to ensure that you don’t have such a record.  To learn more about child abuse registries, you can do so at US Dept of Health Site. 

If you’ve lived in a country outside the US since your 18th birthday, the home study try to locate a “child abuse clearance” for that country.  However, many foreign countries do not have such registries.  To see a list of countries who don’t have a child abuse registry, please see this Dept of State page.


Do I Have to Be Healthy To Adopt?

This section will describe your health.  We will give you a form to your doctor and have them fill out.  It is similar to an yearly physical.  Almost none of our clients are in “perfect health”, so you don’t have to be either.  If there is an issue, whether past or present, we’ll simply disclose it and show a letter issued by a doctor that explains in plain English how it has been resolved, or how it is being dealt with.  In most cases, such letters are sufficient for you to be approved.  If there is a condition you’re curious about, call us at 704 527 7673 and we’ll tell you what we think based on our experience.   

What Is Adoption Preparation?

One of the main purposes of the home study is to prepare you to be an adoptive parent.  A major source of that happening is the social worker.  To work for an international adoption agency, you have to meet certain requirements and have certain years of experience.  The social worker is the “clinical resource” that helps parents understand what children growing up in orphanages may be dealing with.  So the preparation itself is done through online courses, such as this one, or this one, the interaction with the social worker is designed to help prepare you as adoptive parents.  Our social worker has over 19 years of experience with adoption, and is a licensed family therapist.  If you’d like to learn more about this, please give us a call at 704 527 7673.  

Family Life Section?

The home study is not all about checks and preparation.  Its purpose is also to describe what you enjoy doing as an individual and as a family.  It talks about what you do for fun.  What activities you enjoy?  We believe these sections, which are written in a concise way help the foreign country with the matching process.  To learn more about how you’re matched with a child, we recommend our Bulgaria page.   

Additional Resources?

USCIS’ site does a good job of explaining what all is required for a home study, so we do recommend it. However, we would say it is written more for professionals and it may be difficult to know what they mean at times. 

US Dept of State site also has country specific requirements. Good, reliable info but could also be difficult to understand at times.   

If you are a US citizen living abroad, we’re one of few agencies capable to help you with your entire process, from start to finish.  We’ve nearly 8 years of experience with such cases and our social worker has been to numerous countries.  We recommend our “Home Studies for Expats” page.  

Home Study Explanation Video

Bulgaria Adoption

Poland Adoption

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Home Studies

Home Studies for Expats

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