Many people who contact our agency do so because they are in need of a homestudy. A homestudy is a document required in all types of adoption. It is a document that contains the adoptive family's life in a nutshell. While every state has marginally different requirements for homestudies, every state requires some document that proves that you are fit to adopt a child. In general, the homestudy requires one or more visits by a social worker or some other professional licensed to do homestudies (also called family assessments) in your state. Your homestudy has to be completed in the state where you reside. The social worker will cover information such as your family history, what you know about issues surrounding adoption, and your personal journey to adoption. Also included in the homestudy will be a variety of documents such as criminal background checks – including a nationwide fingerprint search per a recent federal law – physical examinations, character references from family and friends, proof of income, and various identifying documents such as birth certificates, marriage certificates or divorce decrees, and copies of driver's license and social security cards. Basically, this documents that you are who you say you are and gives any professional an idea of what your home life would be like. The social worker will visit you at your home, and do a walk-through of your home to ensure that it is appropriate and safe for a child, documenting it in the homestudy narrative. This process generally averages about one to two months, depending on how long it takes to collect the documents necessary. Some agencies also require you to attend classes about their processes and information about adoption. Once completed, your homestudy professional will likely make several originals of the homestudy, and you should feel free to request one for your records. In general, A Gift of Hope Adoptions makes three originals – one for you, one for our file, and one for your attorney. This may seem like a daunting process, and many adoptive parents feel frustrated, as if you were able to have a child biologically you wouldn't have to jump through all these hoops. However, you have to understand that social work and legal professionals are entrusted with protecting children, and must make sure that they are placing a child in a safe, healthy and happy home.