Adoption Home Study Report
What is home study?
“Family Situation Report”, more commonly referred as a home study report HSR, is a document that reflects who adoptive family are to several different entities, including the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the foreign adoption authorities (FAA). The HSR itself assesses the physical home and emotional environment that an adopted child will enter. It is a key document in I-800A or I-600A adoption petition with the USCIS and in the adoption dossier to FAA.
Who should conduct HSR?
The HSR should be conducted by a qualified agency, who is authorized to conduct HSR for international adoptions. All Hague HSR must be conducted by Hague accredited agencies. The agency must be licensed by the State where adoptive family are residing and bound by specific State laws and guidelines. Prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) are encouraged to search for a local homestudy agency in residing State as they can assist the family to conduct a HSR that meet your State’s requirements for intercountry adoptions. And depending on where adoptive family are living, Faith International can provide contacts of home study service providers, who we have worked with and are capable to do HSR for intercountry adoptions.
How much is the HSR?
Fees vary by agencies, but generally range from $1,000 – $4,000. If HSR needs to be updated for any reason, there will be a fee associated with this update. The updates are required for expired HSR, re-applying with USCIS, or any significant changes in the PAPs’ home. Agency conducting HSR will also be responsible to do a specific number of post-adoption reports for adoptive family. So, PAPs should discuss and make sure that the post-placement services are included in the packet.
What are the requirements for HSR?
Home study requirements vary depending on where you are living. Each State has different set of rules that apply to HSR. There are different between HSR for a Hague adoption and a non-Hague adoption. If you intend to adopt from a Hague country, you must choose the country before the HSR is conducted. If you intend to adopt from a non-Hague country, you may complete the HSR before choosing the country. Generally a HSR cannot be older than 2 years at the time of submission. This is different by country, so please check with your adoption case manager. The home study process can take up to 2-3 months to complete. This is primarily due to the required clearances that need to be reflected in the homestudy before it is completed.
General Requirements for HSR
HSRs must generally include the following:
- An in-person interview and home visit with the prospective adoptive parents (PAPs). In addition, all adult members of the PAPs’ household must also be interviewed.
- An accurate evaluation of the physical, mental, and emotional capabilities of the PAPs and any other adult member of the household.
- A detailed description of the finances of the PAPs, including but not limited to: incomes, debts, expenses, and the costs of supporting other members of the family.
- A detailed description of the PAPs’ living conditions.
- If applicable, a detailed description of the PAPs’ ability to provide proper care for a child with special needs.
- A description of counseling provided to the PAPs or plans for post-placement counseling.
- Specific assessment of how the above factors would affect the PAPs’ ability to care for an adopted child, the number of children that the PAPs may adopt, and any restrictions on the children who should be place with the PAPs.
- 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 PAPs’ household. The results of these checks and inquiries must be noted in the homestudy.
- If there were any previous rejections for adoptions, or if an unfavorable homestudy was ever prepared regarding any adult member of the PAPs’ household, explanations must be obtained.
- A criminal history of each adult in the PAPs’ household to disclose any record or arrest/or conviction, history of any substance abuse, sexual or child abuse, or domestic violence may result in a denial of the I-600A or I-800A.
How many originals HSR are needed?
The agency should provide four (4) notarized originals of complete HSR to Faith International. We will then prepare them for the necessary authentications as required by FAA. We will send one fully authenticated HSR to PAPs. Please keep this document in a safe place, as they will be used later. Faith International will use three authenticated HSRs to (1) file with immigration petition (I-800A/I-600A), (2) submit with adoption dossier to foreign country, and (3) keep as a back-up copy in our office.
Home Study Review and Approval
Before the HSR is finalized and notarized, it must be reviewed and approved by both Faith International and PAPs. The review and approval process are taken in 2 steps:
- Step 1: After finishing writing, the home study agency sends draft of HSR to PAPs to review to make sure all details are correct. Please pay attention to name spellings and dates.
- Step 2: After reviewed by PAPs, the home study agency should send the revised homestudy to Faith International as an email attachment. The document is recommended to be in an editable format (Microsoft Word). After reviewing, Faith International will return the HSR to home study agency with comments and feedback on how it should be revised to meet the requirements by USCIS and foreign government. The home study agency should make all the suggested changes and again email the final version of HSR to Faith International. Upon receiving the HSR with all necessary changes already made, Faith International will approve the HSR. And the home study agency can now mail 4 notarized originals to Faith International.
USCIS Tip Sheet
The HSR must meet specific requirements by the Hague Adoption Convention (for Hague adoption) and by the USCIS. While the USCIS is not able to specifically advise about documentation and specific material that needs to be included in the HSR, the office makes a tip sheet available to adoption service provider and PAPs to provide guidance for some of the areas where there have been many questions. The Form M-738 (Hague) and Form M-760 (non-Hague) are available to be downloaded at USCIS website.
International Adoption Training
All Hague adoptions must meet the training requirements by the Hague Convention. Therefore, PAPs must obtain a certain amount of hours of verified education on international adoption issues as part of the home study process. Faith International recommends Adoption Learning Partners as an educational resource to help PAPs to meet these requirements. Adoption Learning Partners offer the Hague Package, which provides PAPs with complete education and help them meet the adoption training requirements by USCIS. Besides the Hague adoption training, each State may require for additional ones. PAPs should check with the home study agency for their recommendation on any necessary courses to meet the State’s requirements for international adoption. The adoption training is not mandatory for non-Hague adoptions, but adoptive families are encouraged to learn and educate themselves on international adoption matters. Depending on where PAPs live, the home study agency may require them to complete some training on relevant topics to meet their State’s requirements.
In addition to the general requirements by USCIS and Hague Convention, an adoption HSR must also meet specific requirements by the FAA. Each country has its own set of requirements for homestudy, please make sure to discuss it with your home study agency.
- India Homestudy Instructions (download)