ADOPTION HOMESTUDY IN OREGON
In every adoption of a minor in Oregon, the prospective adoptive parents are required to participate in a home study. However, in many cases, the home study can be avoided by seeking a waiver of the home study from the State of Oregon’s Department of Human Services (DHS).
The home study process has three purposes: 1) to educate and prepare the adoptive family for the adoption, 2) to evaluate whether the adoptive family is suitable for adoption, and 3) to gather information that will help connect the adoptive family with a child to adopt.
The home study must be conducted by a licensed adoption agency that has been approved by DHS. DHS maintains a listing of approved adoption agencies on its website.
The adoption agency is entitled to charge a fee for conducting the home study. That fee is determined by the agency, but the fee must be based on reasonable costs and actual expenses incurred by the agency as a result of the home study.
The basic requirements for a home study process are set out by Oregon law. However, home study practices vary from agency to agency and there is no particular required format. Most home studies include training for the adoptive parents to educate them about adoption issues, the adoption process, and the needs of children seeking adoption. There are a series of interviews with social workers. The interviews cover your familial background and relationships, your experiences with children, and parenting skills. There are also discussions about what type of child would be the best match for you. The home study also involves home visits to ensure that you offer a safe living environment for a child. Also, you are required to undergo criminal background checks. The social worker may ask for references and may want to contact your close family members and friends.
You can expect to be required to provide documentation, such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, divorce judgments, etc.
At the end of the home study process, the social worker produces a written report. The report reflects the social worker’s findings, including your familial background, education and employment, parenting skills and experiences, daily life, religious background, and living circumstances. The report makes a recommendation about whether you are a good candidate to adopt a child and, sometimes, recommendations about number of children or ages of children that you would be suitable to adopt.
Along with the home study, Oregon law generally requires a post-placement report (also called the court report). The post-placement report is a follow up to the home study that is filed with the court after the child has been placed with you for adoption. The report updates the court about the child’s progress with the new family. There is a fee of $675.00 paid to DHS for the report; that fee may be reduced or waived in limited circumstances.
The home study process is usually a positive experience. However, the time and expense involved can be burdensome. Fortunately, DHS may be able to waive the home study and post-placement report in certain circumstances. Under Oregon law, DHS may waive the home study requirement when:
- One of the adoptive parents is a stepparent of the child (and certain persons are properly notified of the adoption);
- The adoptive parent(s) is a grandparent, aunt, uncle or adult sibling of the child and the child has resided with them for a certain period of time;
- One of the adoptive parents is the child’s biological or adoptive parent;
- One of the adoptive parents is the child’s biological parents and the child is brought to term by a gestational carrier (surrogate); or
- Either the adoptive parents or the child are receiving services from DHS’s Office of Safety and Permanency for Children, or have received services within the last year.
As part of the waiver process, each adoptive parent who is not a biological or adoptive parent of the child must pass a criminal background check.
You can seek a waiver of the home study by sending copies of the adoption paperwork to DHS, along with DHS’s waiver form.
If you have questions about the adoption home study process or whether you qualify for a waiver of the home study, please feel free to contact us.