The Home Study Process

Everything you need for the home study part of the adoption process.

The laws of every state and the District of Columbia require all prospective adoptive parent(s) to participate in a home study. It can appear somewhat daunting but don’t be overwhelmed! Our wonderful team of case managers will support you through the process.

What is a Home Study?

A home study is a screening process that reviews the home and lives of the prospective adoptive parents prior to the adoption.

The main purpose of a home study is to:

  1. Educate and prepare the prospective adoptive parent(s) for adoption.
  2. Evaluate the overall well-being of the prospective adoptive parent(s).
  3. Gather information about the prospective adoptive parent(s) that will help aid the caseworker to connect the family with a child whose needs they can meet.

Specific home study requirements and processes vary greatly from agency to agency, as well as state to state.

What is involved in a Home Study?

The Haven Adoptions’ home study is comprised of the following:

The Step by Step Process

  1. Participate in a Home Study Information Session via conference call or in-person – sign up (LINK to Calendly scheduling) with our Director of Family Services, Sarah Magarity to learn about the home study process.
  2. If you decide to move forward with Haven Adoptions, You will be asked to complete our Intake Form.
  3. Complete each item on the home study checklist (see below).
  4. Schedule your home study visit.
  5. Upon a successful visit, your Haven Adoptions Home Study Case Manager will draft your home study report.
  6. Home Study APPROVED!


A home study checklist of required documents for each applicant

  1. Copies of both adoptive parents’ birth certificates
  2. Copies of your driver’s licenses and passports
  3. A copy of your marriage certificate, if applicable
  4. A copy of any divorce decree, if applicable
  5. A copy of medical insurance card
  6. A completed Adoptive Parent Medical Form
  7. A completed Child Medical Form
  8. Verification of income
  9. A completed Financial Information Breakdown Form
  10. A copy of latest income tax return
  11. Savings verification
  12. Five reference letters from non-related individuals
  13. A completed Guardianship Form
  14. A completed Discipline Policy Form
  15. A copy of your pet’s vaccination report, if applicable
  16. Autobiographical statements
  17. Child abuse clearance (https://www.compass.state.pa.us/cwis/public/home)
  18. Pennsylvania state criminal history record (https://epatch.state.pa.us/Home.jsp)
  19. FBI Criminal History Report (https://uenroll.identogo.com)
  20. Certificate for completing at least two hours of parenting classes

We know, it is a lot of information and paperwork for you to gather, but we promise we are here to help every step of the way! For a better understanding of why we need this important information, keep reading.

To get things moving quickly, here is the order we would suggest for your next steps:

  • Get your FBI, Child Abuse Clearance, and PA Criminal History Record done first. The FBI clearances may take a few weeks to get back, so you want to get your fingerprints done as soon as possible. The PA criminal history record and child abuse clearance can both be completed on-line. (**Note, if you have lived in another state within the last 5 years you will need a child abuse clearance from that state.)
  • Schedule a physical. Sometimes it takes a few weeks to get one on the schedule with your physician/nurse practitioner. (Tip: It is often easier to get an appointment with a Nurse Practitioner which is completely acceptable.)
  • Complete your home study application and autobiography.
  • E-mail your references so they can begin writing their letter of recommendation. We will provide you with a reference letter guide to help them.
  • Start working on your checklist of documents.
  • Once you have all of your documents completed and forms filled out, you will then be assigned a home study case manager who will schedule a time to come to your home and meet with you! It is important to note that a visit will only be scheduled once your checklist is complete, your payment is received and you have all documents ready to be submitted.

What Forms Are Important for a Home Study?

There are is a lot of paperwork involved in a home study. To make it easier, we’ve created the following breakdown of the required documentation.

Adoptive Parent Medical Form

  • Each prospective adoptive parent will need a physical exam always current within the year from a general physician or nurse practitioner and a statement from him or her confirming that the protective adoptive parent is physically and mentally able to care for a child.
  • If any member of the prospective adoptive family has a medical condition that is under control, they may still be approved.
  • A serious health problem, such as a communicable disease or one that affects normal life expectancy, may prevent approval.
  • Every adoption situation is unique, and Haven Adoptions encourages all prospective adoptive parent(s) to touch base with the caseworker regarding any issues or concerns.


Child Medical Form (if applicable)

  • Any child currently living in the home will have a medical form completed by the child’s pediatrician or nurse practitioner. Must always be current within the year.


Income Statements

  • This is for proof that the prospective adoptive parent(s) can manage finances responsibly and have the means to provide for a child.
  • Haven Adoptions asks that the prospective adoptive parent(s) verify their income by providing copies of pay stubs, W-4 forms and/or income tax returns.
  • Haven Adoptions also asks for copies of saving statements, insurance policies, health coverage, investments, and debt.


Reference Letters

  • Five reference letters, always current within the year, are required from non-family members. Haven provides an outline for your references to follow.

Guardianship Form

  • To be completed by the person(s) who the prospective adoptive parents designate as a guardian for the adoptee.


Autobiographical Statements

  • One is required from each prospective adoptive parent(s).
  • The purpose of the autobiography is to help the caseworker understand the family background, childhood experiences, education and work experience, relationships, and employment.
  • This will assist the caseworker who is writing the home study report to gain a full understanding of the prospective adoptive parent’s history.
  • Haven Adoptions understands that this process might be difficult, but the exercise is intended to provide information to the agency and for the agency to understand what life experiences have shaped who the prospective adoptive parent(s) are today.


State, Federal and Child Abuse Clearances

  • Are required to be current within a year for each adult living in the home until the adoption is finalized.
  • All agencies, private and public, must follow the state and federal laws and policies regarding approval requirements and how the findings of background checks affect eligibility for prospective adoptive parent(s).
  • However, if there is a situation that the prospective adoptive parent(s) feel may disqualify them from adopting, this needs to be addressed with the caseworker before the home study.
  • If anyone has lived outside of Pennsylvania in the last five years, you are required to have child abuse clearances from every state you have lived in during the last five years.


Home Visit and Interview

  • A case manager will visit the prospective adoptive parent(s)’ home to ensure that the home offers a safe environment for a child and meets Pennsylvania state licensing standards.
  • The prospective adoptive parent(s)’ home should be free from hazards and offer a child-friendly environment for the age range for which they are being approved.
  • The caseworker is not inspecting housekeeping skills, and while some family clutter is expected, a certain level of order is necessary.
  • Haven Adoptions is seeking a child-friendly environment. View our safety requirements here (link to How to Make your Home Safe for an Adoption Home Study).

Prospective Adoptive Parent Interview

  • The prospective adoptive parent(s) will meet with a case manager to develop the case manager/client relationship. Haven Adoptions puts focus on the relationship and support for adoptive parents.
  • The prospective adoptive parent(s) will explore feelings around important decisions that need to be made during the adoption process, such as feelings towards adopting a child of a different race, adopting sibling groups, and having an open versus closed adoption with the biological parent(s).
  • This process should be both a self-reflective process and a time to educate the prospective adoptive parent(s) about topics with which they may not yet be familiar.

Parenting Classes

  • Two hours of parenting classes, on-line or in person. Haven provides parenting class options.