GUIDELINES FOR HOME
Home Study Report may include the following documents:
While preparing the
Home Study Report, social worker may go through the
(The format has been
prepared for suitable Indian couples. In case of single
parents the professional Social Worker has to see that
adequate support systems are available and the single
parent is physically, mentally, financially and
psychologically capable of handling the adoption
GUIDELINES FOR PREPARATION OF HOME STUDY
The guidelines enumerated here should not be considered
as all encompassing or to be adhered to rigidly. The
Home Study can include any other material which may be
found relevant in a particular case.
Single parents and parents already having biological
child/children will not be discriminated. The
information that should be included in a Home Study can
be divided into two broad categories, i.e. purely
factual information and a psychosocial assessment of
prospective adoptive parent/s. These categories are not
mutually exclusive as even the factual information helps
in building up the over-all picture of prospective
adoptive parent/s as will be seen below.
A. Factual Information :
This should include names of prospective adoptive
parent/s and of their children, if any, their address,
age, number of years of marriage, educational
qualifications, occupation, financial situation and
religion. The same information should also be given
regarding other members living in the home.
Age: Adoptive applicants should generally be of natural
child bearing age. However, too great an age gap
between the adoptive parents and the child is not
desirable as the parents may then find it difficult to
meet adequately the physical and emotional needs of the
Years of Marriage : Generally it is advisable that the
couple should have been married for at least 5 years
before they contemplate adoption. This would serve to
provide evidence of the quality and stability of their
marital relationship. It would also ensure that they
have had a reasonable chance of having their own
biological child. However, stability of a marriage
should not be determined only on the basis of its
length. In exceptional cases, a marriage of shorter
duration may also be found acceptable, where the couple
knew each other earlier, prior to legalisations of their
marriage, and / or where the delay may disqualify them
on account of over age.
Educational Qualifications: An idea of the couple’s
educational background is necessary not only to obtain a
complete picture of them, but also because it would be
likely to influence the educational plans they would
make for their adopted child.
Financial Situation: Although there is no hard and fast
rule, the income of the applicants should be sufficient
to meet the reasonable and legitimate needs of a child.
The stability and long term security of the income and
its proper management is more important than the amount
itself. It is not necessary to have a stated amount of
savings. However, in the case of non-Hindus taking a
child in guardianship, the Court usually requires a
certain amount to be invested by the applicants in the
name of the child, to provide him/her some degree of
financial security, since guardianship does not entitle
the child to inherit the family property of the
guardian. The adoptive applicants should be made aware
of this possibility.
Religion : It is important to know the religion of the
adoptive parents and the influence it would have on the
decisions they make when selecting a child. It should
be ascertained whether their religious beliefs, or those
of the religious denomination to which they belong,
would militate against their accepting a child from a
different religious background, or whose religious
affiliation is not known.
Source of Referral : This should indicate how the
applicants came to know about the agency.
Number of Single and Joint Interviews :
The information here should include interviews held with
the husband and wife, singly and jointly, as well as
interviews with other collaterals, such as the
applicant’s children, if any, relatives, friends, family
physician or priest, where possible and felt necessary.
While such references are not likely to give their
negative evaluation if any, a contact with them is of
use in overall assessment. The type of people with whom
the applicants interact is, in some ways, a reflection
of them as persons. (Written statements are required
from at least three persons who know the couple well).
Health History :
There should be reasonable evidence to show that the
couple are in good physical health and free from
communicable diseases. They should not be suffering
from any health problem which may be physically or
mentally debilitating, thus affecting their functioning
or care giving ability, or which is likely to have a
negative influence on their normal life span.
Conditions such as diabetes which is under control, or
previous surgery, should not automatically debar the
applicants. (A doctor’s report should be obtained which
is not older then two months).
Family Constellation :
If the couple live in a joint or extended family,
information about other members of the household
including their relationship with the couple, their
ages, education, occupation and health should be given
in the Home Study.
Home and Neighbourhood:
This should include a physical description of the home,
the accommodation which will be available for the
adopted child, the type of neighborhood, amenities in
the house and the neighbourhood, such as accessibility
to school, and the standard of living of the couple as
reflected in the home.
Name of the Social Worker, His/ Her Qualifications, Name
and Address of Agency:
This information should come at the end of the Home
study, and should include the signature or the social
worker who has prepared the Home Study.
B. Psycho-Social Assessment of the Couple:
Information needs to be collected in several areas to
enable the social worker to form a composite
psycho-social picture of the adopting couple. Some of
the areas are mentioned below:
General Impression of the Couple :
Besides giving a description of the physical appearance
of the couple, their facial features, complexion and
general health condition, the information given here
should convey an idea of the general impression the
couple make on others.
This implies to an extent an understanding of one’s
self, recognition and acceptance of one’s strengths and
weaknesses, adequate enactment of one’s roles, and a
capacity to form permanent and satisfying interpersonal
relationships. In order to be a happy parent, one must
first be a happy person.
This includes the philosophy of life and the basic
values held dear by each spouse. Their sense of values
should place primary emphasis on the integrity of each
individual’s personality, a concern and respect for
others, a willingness to understand and appreciate
individual differences and attitudes, a belief in the
basic worth of a human being and a concern for life.
The possession of such a value structure is particularly
important when adopting a child whose parentage and
background is not known.
Social Status and background of Adopting Couple:
Information here should include the family background of
both the marital partners; their social and
psychological experiences in their families of birth;
their educational background, work experience and
adjustment to work; their relationships with others in
the community; and their social standing.
Quality of Marital Relationship:
Through the series of joint and single interviews, it is
necessary to assess the degree of emotional satisfaction
the couple derive from their marriage. Factors such as
mutual participation in decision making, especially with
reference to the decision to adopt, degree of mutual
sexual satisfaction, and the acceptance and adequate
performance of allocated roles within the family, are
all important considerations.
Current Family Relationships and Details of the children
in the home including biological and adopted :
Besides assessing the quality of relationship between
the husband and wife, it is also necessary to ascertain
their current relationship with other members of the
household, including their children, if any, and members
of each other’s families.
Attitude towards Childlessness.
The Home Study should cover reasons for childlessness,
if any. The prospect of remaining childless can be very
hard to accept and couples usually go through a period
of great emotional stress before coming to terms with
their childlessness. The social worker should be aware
of this and should explore their feelings in this area
with sensitivity and understanding. The couple’s
adjustment to this deprivation is an important
consideration because, in the future, the adoptive child
can be a constant living reminder of what the adoptive
parents see as their own deficiency.
If the couple
already have biological children, for instance, they
have girls and plan to adopt a boy, the Home Study
Report shall explore the effect of adoption on these
children. If, on the other hand, there is a possibility
that a childless couple may later have children of their
own, the effect this would have on their feelings
towards their adopted child should also be carefully
explored with them.
Motivation for and Attitudes towards Adoption:
It is important to know the couple’s general attitude
towards adoption, particularly of an unrelated child,
and the motivating force behind their decision to
adopt. Their attitude to illegitimacy is an important
consideration since a negative attitude may adversely
condition their response to a child born out of
wedlock. Positive qualities that can be identified
are:- an evident enthusiasm to adopt and adjustability
and tolerance in their requirements of a child.
Negative characteristics can be identified as :- tension
in their marital relationship, anticipation of the
adoption as a means of alleviating some personal
problem, or indecisiveness in their commitment to
In general, motives
that focus on the needs of the child, rather than those
of the adoptive parents are acceptable. Some couple may
wish to adopt to repair their shaky marriage, to bring
in a companion and playmate for their natural born child
or to replace an expired child. Combating the
loneliness of a mother, creating new interest in the
life of a sick and miserable parent, or anticipation of
support in old age may be other motives. These are
irrational and unrealistic motives and the applicants
should be helped to reflect on these areas and even
advised to refrain from adopting a child in such cases.
They should understand that a child cannot be made a
tool in solving the problems of two adults.
It is further
important to explore whether both the spouses are
equally eager to adopt or if one of them is going along
with the plan just to please his/her partner.
Capacity for Parenthood and Expectations of a Child
This includes a capacity to love, accept and offer
emotional security to children, a capacity to permit
them to grow in their own individuality, a readiness to
accept and understand the behavioural problems of
children and to be flexible and realistic in their
expectations from children. It is also necessary to
explore if the applicants have strong pre-conceived
ideas as to what the child should be like. Some parents
have a dream image of a child or a desire that the child
should become exactly like his/her father or mother in
all respects. A child cannot be laden with the burden
of futuristic expectations of the adoptive parents.
When a relationship is based on such motivations there
is an undue emphasis on loyalty. Even the normal
self-assertions of the child will then be seen by the
parents as adverse signs. Emotionally charged
anticipations often serve to set off a chain of negative
responses which render mutual adaptations all the more
difficult. Couples should be helped to understand that
a child is a separate entity with his own
individuality. Areas which should be explored are a
couple’s rigidity or otherwise about the background of
the child, whether they will be willing to let a child
grow in his own way at his own speed while they support
him with loving discipline, and their hopes and plans
for the child.
If the wife is
working the social worker should discuss with her
whether she plans to continue to work or to give up her
job. If her intention is to continue with her job, it
should be ascertained what plans she would be making for
the child’s care while she is at work.
Attitude of Significant Others:
In our traditional cultural set up, next in importance
to the applicants themselves, come the members of their
extended family. If there are any biological children
old enough to have an opinion in the matter, their views
regarding the adoption plan and the extent to which
their parents have prepared them should be ascertained.
If the applicants are living in a joint family, it would
be advisable to meet all the family members living in
the home. Both sets of prospective adoptive grand
parents should be seen where possible. Such contact
with significant relatives would give evidence of their
degree of support of the adoption plan of the couple,
ensure their positive involvement and also help
ascertain if they need support in resolving their own
feelings about the idea.
Plans to Tell the Child of His/Her Adoption:
The social worker should discuss with the couple their
feelings about and their plans for sharing the fact of
the child’s adoption with him. The worker should assess
their ability to do so comfortably and easily. The
parents may be advised not to keep the adoption as a
secret matter and it should be conveyed to the child
when he is appropriately grown up.
Evaluation of Strengths and Weaknesses, and Social
There are strengths and weaknesses in every individual
and in every marital relationship. One can, therefore,
not expect to find a perfect couple. The social
worker’s recommendation of a couple’s suitability to
adopt should be made on the basis of his/her evaluation
of the strengths and weaknesses observed in the course
of doing the Home Study, of whether the weaknesses are
in significant areas which might affect the welfare of
the child, and of the extent to which the strengths
outweigh the weaknesses. The probable areas in which
the couple is likely to need on going help, such as
coming to terms with sterility, or telling the child
he/she is adopted, should be noted. Finally the
recommendations should state the suitability of the
parents to adopt.
(Always Home Study
should be updated and not more than 2 year’s old at any
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