If you are planning to adopt a child in Tennessee, you will be required to follow several important steps in the adoption process. One of those steps involves an adoption home study. Hopeful parents often feel intimidated and even leery when they hear the term “home study.” Because preparation often alleviates such concerns, a Murfreesboro adoption attorney at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby explains what to expect during an adoption home study.
The Tennessee Adoption Process
Adopting a child in Tennessee is a legal process that requires approval by a judge and that can take months to complete. Along with terminating the rights of the child’s biological parent(s), the adoption process is designed to make sure that the prospective parents are qualified to adopt and that the home into which the child is placed is safe and nurturing. As a prospective parent you will submit to an extensive background check and medical screening as part of a home study. If you are adopting a relative or stepchild the judge may waive the home study requirement. Although waiver is common, it is not automatic. You will need to ask the judge to waive the home study requirement. Knowing what to expect during the home study portion of the adoption process can make the home study less stressful and more successful.
What Is a Home Study?
The adoption “home study” encompasses more than just a visit to your home – although that is part of the process. The home study is intended to be an overview of the adoptive family’s home and life to determine if the family is an appropriate placement for the adoptive child. Conducted by a licensed social worker, a Tennessee home study will include, but not be limited to, the following:
- At least one visit to the home to confirm that the home is safe, free from health risks, and has sufficient space for an additional family member
- Reference letters for adoption
- Health examinations to ensure that the parents have a normal life expectancy and do not suffer from any communicable diseases that could be passed on to the child.
- Verification of marital status and employment
- Completion of forms relating to family history and lifestyle
- Interviews with all members of the family residing in the household
Interviews will likely include discussions regarding things such as:
- Your motivation to adopt
- Your ability to provide for a child
- Your character, values, and ethical standards
- The stability of the marriage, if applicable
- Your physical and mental health
- Confirming the absence of substance and/or physical abuse in the family
- The health and fire safety conditions of your home
Who Conducts an Adoption Home Study and What Does It Cost?
As an adoptive parent you may pick any licensed child-placing agency authorized by the Department of Children’s Services to conduct home studies. You will be responsible for paying the costs associated with the home study which typically ranges from around $1000-$1500 for the home study alone. There will likely be additional costs for things such as the application fee, home study updates, and the post-placement supervision visit. The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services publishes an Adoption Fee Schedule that lists all licensed child-placing agencies as well as the current fees they charge for services, including the required home study. Once the home study is completed it remains valid for one year. If the adoption is not finalized within that one-year period, you will need to have your home study updated.
If you are adopting a child that is currently in the care of the Department of Children’s Services, you will still need to submit to a home study; however, the home study will be conducted by the department, and you will not incur a fee for the study.
Contact a Murfreesboro Adoption Attorney
If you have additional questions about the adoption home study process in Tennessee, it is important that you consult with an experienced Murfreesboro adoption attorney to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible. Contact the team at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.