What I have learned about home studies

December 20, 2011

Switching gears from IVF to adoption has been hard.  We have been researching home studies and fees and finally selected an agency (just for the home study) and have gotten started.  Feels good to finally be doing this.  So, I just want to share what I have learned so far.

I don’t think home studies for most people would be as complicated. But due to my circumstances, it is, indeed, complicated because we don’t know which route will get us to our baby at the moment and are trying everything.   I just didn’t know that there were so many nuances to home studies.

We need a home study for the following scenarios:

  1. To get on the list in Puerto Rico with the Department of Family – it is like a waiting list and they rarely have babies or infants
  2. Parental placement, which is more commonly known as a private adoption
  3. Surrogacy  – a remote chance of us being able to do this ( and you may or may not actually need a home study for this situation)
  4. For an infant adoption through an agency if we can afford it later

I didn’t even know what to ask.  Thank goodness someone at one of the places asked me questions.  For Puerto Rico, we just need a regular standard domestic home study.  However, for a parental placement, you need a special domestic home study.

Types of Home Studies

  1. International
  2. Domestic – This is the standard if you are adopting from an agency.  Price Range: $1500-5000
  3. Domestic + Parental Placement – Sometimes this is a completely different home study all together or is a regular home study and then you pay an additional fee to update it.  Also, as I understand it, some of the paperwork for a parental placement home study must be done after the placement as they have to include information about the birth mother and the baby, so it makes sense to do the regular home study and then have it updated after you match. Price Range for add-on to home study: $500-2500
  4. Domestic + Surrogacy? – Also, for surrogacy, I thought that Virginia required a home study for not only you, but also the gestational surrogate, which I thought was strange.  As it turns out, there are two ways to do surrogacy in Virginia — 1. Court approved (requires home studies) 2. Non-court approved (no home studied needed).  Again, I think it’s strange that there are options in the law.  Luckily, I talked to someone who practices law specializing in surrogacy and he told me that to date there has never been a Court Approved case in Virginia and that they are all done via the non-court approved route.  Interesting.   So, check with your state on that.  I’m still not sure if a regular home study would work for surrogacy in case it was required…all of the agencies I called were fuzzy on this.

Things to be aware of:

  1. If you end up using an agency that is religiously affiliated, then be aware that your home study may need to include questions about your faith.  You can’t necessarily get a standard home study and then use it for certain agencies.  Or, you may have to pay to have it updated.
  2. If you think that a parental placement (private adoption) might be at all possible, then make sure the place that does your home study is licensed to update it later for that.  Some agencies/social workers can not do parental placements.  Even if you are going with an agency, this would be smart just in case an adoptive situation were to arise.
  3. You might not have to use an agency in your city, some that I called that were 4-5 hours away and had social workers in our city.  So, don’t limit your search to just what is located in your town.
  4. For parental placements, the add-on fees to your standard home study vary greatly.  Some include just the paperwork.  Some include a meeting between the social worker and birth mom and a meeting with social worker, birth mom and intended parents.  Some include counseling for the birth mother, which I understand is optional and is the birth mother’s decision.

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  • That’s really, really interesting. I didn’t know that surogacy might require a home study. Good to know. Thanks so much for posting this.

  • I think the overwhelming amount of information here is not unlike infertility…
    But good for you for doing all the research. I really hope it bears fruit and one of those routes opens up a way for you.

  • Congrats on starting the process and thanks for sharing all of the nuances of your situation! Hoping it goes quickly 🙂

  • Thank you for all of the home study information. If you haven’t already checked it out, you may want to look at becoming a Project Cuddle rescue family once your home study is finished. I don’t know much about it, but thought it looked like it could be helpful. Here is the link Happy New Year!

  • Our surrogacy agency does not require a homestudy, but maybe different states have different requirements.

    Also, I am Puerto Rican, but do not live there. Could we get on the list to adopt from Puerto Rico? I heard it was impossible! I would absolutely LOVE it though.