At The Barker Adoption Foundation, the home study is both evaluative and preparatory. The study must be administered by an adoption agency licensed in the prospective parent’s or parents’ state of residence. Barker offers home studies for prospective parents who live in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.. The end result is a document written by a social worker that includes information drawn from a series of interviews with the prospective parent or parents and supporting information provided by third parties.
The home study process typically takes a few months to complete and is designed to get to know the prospective parent or parents and assist them in preparing to become parents through adoption.
Depending on the specifics of the situation and the family’s directive, the home study results are provided to public child welfare departments, courts, attorneys, licensed partnering adoption agencies, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and/or an overseas social welfare agency.
A good home study is a two-way street. Participants bring the concerns and feelings that are uniquely theirs as they contemplate this important step in their lives. The social worker shares information about the experience that the agency has gained from many other adoptions to help prospective parents address issues that they might not have considered on their own.
Prospective parents are asked to think through how it might feel to grow up adopted and to place a child for adoption. They learn about the kinds of children who are in need of families and carefully consider factors—age, race, legal, and medical conditions—that they feel they could handle in a child they hope to adopt. They begin to anticipate the role that they’d ideally wish the child's birth parents to play in their lives , and how they can come to a mutually beneficial agreement with the birth parents on the level of openness in the relationship. Those thinking of transracial and/or transcultural adoption are asked to carefully consider the additional challenges and considerations that come with this type of adoption.
It is the evaluative aspect of the home study that causes many applicants concern. In assessing a potential home, Barker staff need to ensure that several basic elements are present: a stable home environment; the emotional and financial resources to rear a child; realistic expectations about adoption; a strong marital relationship, if married; and a genuine desire to parent.