iStock 000012691609XSmallThe home study is a detailed written report of your family compiled and prepared by a social worker. In the state of Michigan the social worker must be a licensed child-placing agency’s worker. The process can take two to three months to finish but Hands Across The Water works at your pace. Some families are able to complete the process quicker while others take longer.

The home study requires the prospective adoptive family to gather different documents, answer several questions related to their family history, and explore their reasons for adopting. Through a series of visits and interviews the social worker can get a complete picture of who you are and what life is like in your family.

The home study can include the following pieces of information. Each home study will look different depending on the dynamics of the adopting family and the type of adoption being pursued.

  • If the home study is for an international adoption, there may be some additional pieces the social worker will need to address.
  • Home studies for infant domestic adoption are written in a different format than any other type of adoption in case confidentiality is needed.
  • Waiting Child home studies are written in the same format as a foster care license home study as the family will be licensed for foster care.
  • Embryo adoption home studies are similar to infant adoption home studies although different issues are addressed. 
  • A home study to be licensed for foster care is written on a state generated template and includes information related to parenting children in the foster care system.


Autobiography/Family Background

Hands Across The Water has experienced social workers working very closely with you to finish this part of the home study.  Additionally, there is a detailed list of questions that you will need to respond to so we can gather a complete picture of your family. These questions are typically about your family, past and present; how you feel about discipline, your fondest childhood memory, or your greatest fears.


Some of this information will be gathered by the home visit your social worker will make. You will also be asked to describe your environment related to the school system, your neighbors, resources within your community, the diversity of your community.

Physical/Emotional Health

You will need a physical or health exam, a Tuberculosis(TB) test or chest x-ray, and a urine drug screen. The social worker will also be interested in hearing how you have any health issues under control. Be prepared to explain how these health issues will or will not affect your ability to care for a child. This is not done to rule you out from adopting but rather look at what you have in place to support your parenting. If there is a significant physical or emotional issue, an additional medical letter may be needed to support your ability to be an adoptive parent.

Financial Statements

You must be able to show that you can care for an additional person(s) with your current family income. Be prepared to verify your income with paycheck stubs, W-4, an income tax form 1040 for the past 3 years. You will also need to show current statements on your savings, insurance coverage, investments, monthly bills, and debts. There is a worksheet to complete that covers your bills, such as mortgage or rent payments, car payments, and charge accounts.

Criminal Clearances

Criminal clearances and child abuse record checks are required. This is an area that is a bit concerning for some. There may be misdemeanors from long ago or even events you had expunged from your record. It is very important that you give the agency information about all possible criminal activity to be addressed.  Fingerprint clearances, BCAL state clearances, and child abuse clearances are completed on adopting parents. An explanation about the behavior which led to the charges and court records are needed. Felony convictions of any charge involving children or illegal substances will most likely disqualify you from being able to adopt. There are different requirements depending on the type of adoption being pursued. 

  • For any domestic adoption, adopting parents must be fingerprinted on the state level.
  • For any domestic adoption, adopting parents must get a child abuse clearance from any state or country they have lived in within the past 5 years.
  • For any international adoption, adopting parents must get a child abuse clearance from any state or country they have lived in since the age of 18.
  • For any international adoption, fingerprinting is not required on the state level but is done through USCIS.
  • For any adoption, any person living in the home 18 years or older must have criminal and child abuse clearances.


You will need the names, addresses, and phone numbers of three personal references and a letter from your employer. Hands Across The Water will send each personal reference a form to complete.  You should choose people who have known you for several years and know your family.

Social Worker Visits

The Hands Across The Water social worker assigned to your family will meet with you, face-to-face, at least 3 times.  At least 1 visit will be in your home but they may all be based on where you live. These meetings are a time for the workers to go over your paperwork, learn more about you, clarify anything in your autobiography and see that your home is a safe and healthy place for a child. The worker will tour your home and discuss safety measures needed for the age child you plan to adopt. This is often a scary part of the home study process but remember, most of our social workers have adopted and do understand.

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