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What Happens if I Fail the Home Study?

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By LisaS - Posted on 15 October 2009

A reader of Adoption Under One Roof is concerned about the consequences of failing a home study. Does this mean that she will never be able to adopt? Is this the end of the road?

It is important to remember that there are many parts of the home study: a physical, criminal background checks, disclosure of financial information, mental health, personal information, family history, at least one visit to your home and at least two interviews.

If your home study is not approved the social worker must tell you why. If the reason for denying the home study is because of your financial situation (ie. you are over your head in debt) then you know what you have to do to pass it. If you have a medical condition that is temporary, when your health improves your home study will probably be approved. If you have committed crimes such as child abuse you will not have the opportunity to adopt a child, nor should you. If your house is incredibly dirty, disorganized and downright dangerous to bring a child into, you know what you need to do to pass the home study.

The worst case scenario is not passing the home study because the social worker doesn’t think you will be a suitable parent. This actually happened to an acquaintance of mine and his wife. They had tried fertility treatments for years and finally turned to adoption. His wife was desperate to adopt and emotionally fragile during the interview. She prepared for the home visit for weeks by cleaning and organizing until the house was perfect. They were both young, healthy, intelligent professionals with no health problems, police records, etc. Their home was lovely and a baby room was ready. During the first interview the wife cried about how badly she wanted a child in her life.

A few weeks later this couple received a letter from the social worker saying that she would not approve this couple for adoption due to the woman’s “emotional instability.” The couple was shocked and devastated. They talked to the social worker and the adoption agency several times offering to do psychiatric evaluations and whatever it took to prove that they were indeed suitable to be parents. The agency would not agree. The woman went ahead and had two psychiatric evaluations and was pronounced normal and healthy. The couple went to another adoption agency and this time the social worker passed their home study without a hitch. They adopted a delightful baby boy from Guatemala who is now six years old.

Social workers are not perfect and evaluating a person’s mental health in one or two interviews is not a perfect science. Far too many people have passed home studies that shouldn’t have resulting in horrific tragedies for their adopted children. So I assume that it happens that good candidates may occasionally fail the home study.

The moral of this story? If you have failed a home study for reasons that are unacceptable to you, don’t give up.

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The Adoption Home Study Process