Parents who have made the big and exciting decision to move forward with adoption surely have many questions, including what is a Child Protective Services (CPS) home study all about? It involves a lot of paperwork, to be sure, as well as a look around the prospective family home.
CPS wants to get to know the potential parents, and their family and friends, to make sure they place the right child with the right family. Above all, it is important to be as truthful as possible with CPS, as knowingly omitting the truth or directly lying is grounds for the adoption to be denied, per Child Welfare Information Getway.
10 Cleanliness and Tidiness
CPS is not looking for a house that is absolutely perfect from top to bottom, rather a home that is lived in, according to social workers interviewed by Adoptions From the Heart.
Your home should be presentably neat and clean, but don’t go too overboard scrubbing and straightening. Otherwise, it might look like you would not be able to handle the mess that your prospective child can — and will — create, according to Baby Center! The saying goes, moderation in all things, and this case is no exception to that rule. Remember: they are looking for real people, not perfection.
9 Safety and Hazards
When inspecting your home, Adoption.org states that CPS is sure to look for appropriately placed and working smoke and CO2 alarms as well as a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. They also will be looking for a fire escape plan, which many families do not have posted, so make sure to post yours!
They are also looking for potential hazards, such as windows not having screens, cleaning supplies put away out of a child’s reach, and, if you have a pool, safety measures for that as well. They just want to make sure the child will be safe in your care.
8 Personal References
This is one paperwork item that you will need to have your family, and, in some states, unrelated people fill out for CPS. They are looking at what family members and friends have to say about you and your spouse. Make sure you pick people who have known you for at least several years and know you well.
For example, family and friends who know your lifestyle, habits, likes and dislikes, etc. They may also wish to interview current or past employers. CPS is looking to round out the picture of your support structures says BabyCenter.
7 Criminal Background
All adults who will be living in the home of your adopted child need to have a background check completed on them. According to Child Welfare Information Getway, “State statutes requiring background checks are supported by Federal law in title IV-E of the Social Security Act.”
There are certain past crimes that may cause an application to be turned down, mainly any crime that includes harming a child. In addition to this, the Constitution also includes denial if “the applicant has been convicted of a felony for physical assault, battery, or a drug-related offense within the past 5 years."
6 Health History
Prospective parents must present medical information to show that their physical and mental health is in a state such that it is not a barrier to caring for their new child. Some states require a recent health examination, reports Child Welfare Information Getway.
Everyone has health issues, so again CPS is not looking for the perfect adult. What they are wanting to do is make sure that any such mental or physical health issues would not prevent you from being able to provide your child with the love and support they deserve, as well as meeting the many physical demands of parenting.
5 Employment and Financial Information
Another important piece of paperwork is the parent’s employment and financial information. They may want to see things such as bank statements and federal tax returns to verify your financials, according to Adoption.org, as well as information on any debts including a mortgage.
Further, as mentioned in personal references, they will most likely want to talk to your current employer, as well as previous employment, to establish your work history. While they are not looking for a spotless record or that you be millionaires, CPS does want to establish that you will be able to financially provide for your child.
4 Family Background
This section of the paperwork will include what the potential parents' upbringing was like to determine a broader image of your potential parenting styles. You will want to write about your family structure: about your mom and dad, if you had brothers and/or sisters, what order you were born, how close you were to your parents, siblings, and other family members like aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, etc.
Include your parents’ style of child-rearing, and if you plan on following that as well. Also, BabyCenter explains it’s helpful to include answers to potential “‘what if’ questions regarding discipline or other parenting issues.”
3 Current Relationships
CPS will want to know what your relationship is like with your spouse, for example, how you communicate and solve problems and what ideals and subjects you fundamentally agree or disagree on, says BabyCenter. CPS also wants to know who will be in the child’s life besides the applying parents.
If you have other children already, they will be asked what their attitudes are towards a new sibling. How close are you to the family as described in the previous entry? Additionally, you will want to include friends with whom you are close that would be a part of the child’s life.
2 Motivation to Adopt
Another question that comes up is, what is your motivation to adopt? If you have struggled as a couple with infertility include how you have coped with this and how this impacts your attitudes towards your future adopted child, probably in a very positive way!
CPS may ask this question of you and your spouse as well as your family and friends. Some future parents will have always wanted to adopt, whereas other parents may be unable to conceive, which can be a very emotional process. Whatever the case may be, just be honest with your CPS worker; they are sure to have experienced a wide range of motivations!
1 Child's Special Needs
Your prospective child may have special needs regarding their physical or mental health. “Children living in orphanages or outside of family-care may have special challenges” states Rainbow Kids. Children who have experienced abuse or neglect may have attachment issues.
The aforesaid site also suggests that as a potential parent, in order to best parent your new child, you may want to make sure you are as emotionally healthy as possible before bringing your new bundle of joy into your family. If your child has physical disabilities, the road is sure to be challenging but also rewarding!