Adoption Home Studies and Parenting Evaluations
Discussing the real issues for parents
We provide adoption home studies to help potential parents discuss the very real issues that they will face in raising an adopted child, the impact on their own relationship, how to establish a support network. We also provide parenting evaluations to make recommendations to the court as to a schedule of care and other facets of a parenting plan.
Adoption Home Studies
When individuals or couples want to adopt a child, whether from a local agency, a private adoption or an international adoption, a home study is required. This is an assessment of the future parents, which can feel intimidating for many people. After all, birth parents don't have to get evaluated or inspected before they have babies. It is much more of a challenge, and often more stressful for the marital relationship, to adopt a child or children. Being scrutinized is anxiety producing for most people, especially if you feel like you have to measure up to some invisible standard.
When I do an adoption home study, I regard it as opportunity to help potential parents discuss the very real issues that they will face in raising an adopted child, the impact on their own relationship, how to establish a support network, etc. The process is collaborative, as we look at family history, personal history, marital history, health, the home environment, finances, religion, attitudes toward adoption and childrearing. I work to make it a comfortable and relaxed exchange rather than an "inspection."
Home studies generally involve a session or two at my office, a home visit, and a review of certain documents (financial, health, etc.) if required. I may also talk with extended family members, therapists, clergy, etc. The final product, the Home Study, takes a few weeks at a minimum to complete and I prefer to have visits spaced so that we don't feel rushed. However, in an emergency, I have completed home studies in 48 hours. Fees are the same as for mediation services ($130 per session or hour). There is a fee to write up the study. Totals are rarely in excess of $1000.00.
Parenting evaluations are more challenging, as there is often a dispute as to the competence of a parent or the stability of a home. With parenting evaluations, I meet with the parents separately, meet with all children involved, talk to therapists, teachers, clergy, grandparents, extended family, social service agencies, attorneys, etc. I visit the two homes and may visit the schools. I review court documents if appropriate, or existing psychological evaluations. It is an in-depth analysis of the strengths, skills and challenges of the parents, and the external factors that impact the separate homes. A parenting evaluation requires a focus on the best interests of particular children in particular circumstances. With parenting evaluations, I generally make recommendations to the court as to a schedule of care and other facets of a parenting plan.
Since I am not a psychologist and do not perform psychological testing or evaluations, I will subcontract with a psychologist, if necessary, for psychological testing, and then include the results of the testing in my final report.
The fees for parenting evaluations are billed at the same rate as mediation, but often require 20+ hours to complete.