If you live in Texas and are adopting a minor child, you will most likely need to have a home study prepared, and also submit to a current criminal background check. This is true for both domestic (United States) and foreign (or international) adoptions. Home studies used to be called “social studies” and are sometimes commonly referred to that way when speaking about them.
The professional social worker who will be performing the home study will speak and visit directly with you outside your attorney’s office. He or she must be licensed by the State of Texas and must meet certain requirements in order to perform these types of studies. The judge must approve this particular person and will sign a court order stating that he or she will be performing the study in the case.
The social worker will ask you (and your spouse, if you are married) in depth questions about your family, marital and health history and will also visit your home. You should be prepared to discuss your financial situation, your debts, and your assets. You will be asked about any criminal history that you might have.
The social worker will prepare a report based upon his/her findings. The report will be filed with the court, and you will also receive a copy.
Having a home study performed is a legal requirement, and is for the safety of the child. Most people are nervous when going through a home study for the first time. You do not have to be perfect, no one is! However, you should be cooperative and prepared. Have documents and facts ready about the items listed above. Since it will be up to you and the social worker to set the time of the interviews, you should keep your attorney informed about when the interviews are scheduled and completed.
It is also likely that the court will appoint an ad litem attorney to represent the child (although in some limited circumstances there may be a waiver of this requirement). The ad litem is an attorney and the ad litem’s client is the child and no one else. The ad litem attorney will make a recommendation to the court about whether he or she believes that the proposed adoption is in the best interests of the child.
Home studies are not required in the case of an adult adoption.