Adoption Home Study FAQ

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Families often have many questions as they are beginning a home study process. We hope these FAQs will help guide you through your next steps in the process!

Why do I need a home study?

All families adopting, either through Spence-Chapin or another agency or an attorney, need to complete a home study. A home study is required by all states for any adult(s) adopting a child into their family, no matter which adoption pathway.

What is a home study?

A home study is a process that results in a document. Throughout the process you will learn about how adoption will impact your family and future child. Specific to your adoption path – such as adoption & child development, adopting a child of a different race, open adoption, or adopting a child with special needs. You will complete in-person interviews and one or more home visits with your social worker. You will also submit documents such as birth certificates, medical statements from a doctor, financial information, and references. At the end of the process, you will receive your home study document, which both describes your family, your ability to adopt, and states if you meet the standards of your adoption program and state, federal or international regulations.

Why should I choose Spence-Chapin to complete my home study?

Spence-Chapin prides itself on providing affirming services for all families hoping to adopt, including those identifying as LGBTQ+, single applicants, and individuals of all racial and cultural backgrounds.

We offer holistic services for families and adoptees of all ages. Connect with other adoptive families through our community programming, engage in parental and adoptee support with our clinical services and expand your knowledge by accessing our ongoing trainings and support groups.

Spence-Chapin provides international and domestic home study services for families living within 100 miles of New York City, and domestic home study services for families residing in Arizona. 

I’ve already adopted my child in their birth country and I need a home study. What are next steps?

The first step in completing an international adoption is to identify a Hague accredited Primary Provider agency. This agency will help you navigate the inter-country laws and documentation you will need for your international adoption and is required even if you already have legal guardianship of the child in their birth country.  We recommend viewing potential Primary Providers for the country you are hoping to adopt from through IAAME or the National Council on Adoption.

Is Spence-Chapin able to complete my domestic home study if I’m working with an attorney?

Absolutely. If you are interested in pursuing an infant domestic adoption with an adoption attorney, Spence-Chapin can provide recommendations for reputable adoption attorneys in the New York, New Jersey, and Arizona. Spence-Chapin provides home study and support services as you work closely with the attorney to navigate the legal process of adoption.

What happens during a home visit?

The home visit is an opportunity for us to see your home and talk about what changes, if any, will need to be made to accommodate the child you hope to have join your family. We are not looking for dust bunnies! Your social worker will tour your home including the space where your future child will sleep and will document standard safety features (i.e. smoke and carbon monoxide detectors). Expectations will be explained in advance and your social worker is available to answer any questions.

What happens during the interviews with my social worker?

Many topics will be covered including why you are pursuing adoption, who supports you and your family, and your personal, medical and employment history. You might be wondering, why does it matter how I was raised? How we were parented can influence how we raise our children. More than anything, it’s an opportunity for us to get to know you and your family and help you feel prepared for your journey as an adoptive family.

How often will I meet with my social worker?

The number and location of visits will vary by state and if you are adopting internationally, this will vary as well by country. In all cases, there will be at least one visit in your home. Families living in New York will need to complete at least two interviews, typically one in the office and one in the home. Families living in New Jersey will complete at least three visits, with at least one home visit. Families living in Arizona will complete at least two interviews with one at home.

If you are adopting internationally, you may see that state and country requirements differ – in that case you will meet the requirements set by the country where the child is from. For example, if you live in New York, which typically requires 2 visits and are adopting from China which requires 4 visits, you will have 4 visits with your home study worker.

What kind of trainings and education will I complete?

The home study process is not only about collecting information about you; it is also a process of preparing you to be an adoptive parent. During your home study process you will be required to complete trainings that are relevant to the type of adoption you are pursuing. For example, families may complete trainings related to promoting healthy attachment, parenting a child of a different race, or older child adoption, among others.

Why do I need to submit so many documents?

During the home study process, you will be asked to submit a wide range of documents that are required by the state you live in. For families pursuing international adoption, additional documents are required by USCIS and the country you plan to adopt from. The information from the documents submitted is then included in your home study.

How long will the home study take?

Domestic home studies and Hague international home studies are typically completed in 2-4 months. Please note that this is largely dependent on the pace at which you submit your required documents to us. The sooner you submit your paperwork to us, the sooner we will be able to complete your home study.

Do home studies expire?

Domestic: Domestic home studies in New Jersey must be updated annually. New York domestic home studies never expire but should you adopt a child not born in the state of New York, you will need an updated home study. Arizona home studies expire in 18, and must be updated annually thereafter.

International: Once your home study is complete, you will submit it to USCIS with the help of your Primary Provider with an immigration form – I-600A or I-800A depending on the country you are adopting from. Once approved by USCIS, the I-600A/I-800A forms must be renewed every 18 or 15 months with an updated home study until the child is brought to the United States.

An update documents any changes that have occurred for you and your family since the original home study was completed and will include a home visit.

Are there other reasons I would need to update my home study?

While you wait for a child to be placed with your family, many things can change – you may get a new job, move to a new home or receive a new medical diagnosis. When a significant change occurs, you will need to inform Spence-Chapin and have an addendum made to your home study. This may require additional paperwork and another meeting with your social worker. The addendum focuses on the area or areas of your life that have changed and is not as encompassing as the original home study.

I’m ready to get started! What are the next steps?

You can download our Home Study Services Application any time from our website. The Home Study Application is an opportunity for our team to get to know your family better and to learn more about the nuances of the adoption you’re hoping to pursue. After we receive your family’s application, our staff will follow up with you to schedule a convenient time to speak, to further discuss the adoption you’re looking to pursue and next steps in the process!

To learn more about completing your home study with Spence-Chapin email us at or call us at 212-400-8150.

All families adopting, either through Spence-Chapin or another agency or with an attorney, need to complete a home study. We provide adoptive families with expertise, professionalism, and the support of an entire adoption team. With over 100 years of experience in adoption, we know how to support adoptive families, birth families, and adoptees! Read More

To apply, please submit your completed home study application.
Mail: Spence-Chapin, Attn: Home Study Application, 120 E 16th St Floor 11 New York, NY 10003

To find out more contact us at

212-400-8150 or email us at