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Guest Jenapher25

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Dear Transitioning and Others,

Beyond gifts and nursery, start examining your heart and home to make sure it's ready for the new lives you wish to welcome there. It is very easy to be all "Baby Fever" and not all that "Baby Wise". The joy and exuberance are wonderful, but temper them with realistic expectations. If you've been through infertility (which you probably have or you wouldn't be here) you probably are ready for only a positive experience. I know we were. But, no road to parenthood is completely smooth. So, strap in for the ride, know you're among friends, and know that there really is a child for you.

That said, the Abrazo application will ask you really tough questions. You have got to be honest, otherwise Abrazo won't be able to help you match with your birthfamily or child. Be brutally honest about what you can and cannot accept. If what you put there has you misaligned with Abrazo's vision, they will let you know, help you realign or find you a better fitting agency. Don't say you're ready for everything if you're not. That's not fair to yourself or to Abrazo when they start presenting you with possible matches and you have to turn them down for one reason or another.

Read! Read! Read! There are lots of resources available to explain what open adoption is (and isn't) and to help you come to terms with the issues of adoption. There are some.

Speak with other adoptive (& birth) families. Find out the "real" story, not just the short synopsis you get on this amazing but limited forum.

And talk with the Ladies at Abrazo to clarify expectations, check your fit, etc. You want to go through this process with the agency best-suited to the needs of your child. Find that agency and you will find your child.

Best wishes for a wonderful, bumpy ride,

Christina

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"With Abrazo it is NEVER too soon to start thinking about nursery stuff!!"

Or in our case, for Baby number 2.

But remember, your willingness to open your home to your child is your key to success here. You are building a family that will more than likely include one or more birthfamily members, in addition to your new child. Start preparing your heart to grow inconceivably larger and you'll be ready for whatever comes your way.

Christina

Christina,

Your latest posts have been wonderful and so "on target". Thank you for being the voice of reason among the flurries of excitment and "baby fever".

"Start preparing your heart to grow inconceivably larger and you'll be ready for whatever comes your way." When I read this sentence I had the image of the Grinch as his heart grows several sizes larger (In animated version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas). It is the perfect image of what happens in the case of open adoption for individuals who go into it with open minds and open hearts.

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  • 3 weeks later...

We have our Abrazo application and I've been holding off mailing it back because our homestudy is in progress but not complete. I've been reading the forum and it looks like many of you submitted your application before completing your homestudy. Should we submit our application before completing the homestudy?

Thanks to the information on this forum, I will mention to our caseworker that we are considering adoption in Texas (we are not in TX). Any other helpful tips for out of state folks going through the homestudy process?

I just sent our fingerprint cards to the FBI today. Our caseworker told us to write on the outside of the envelope - ADOPTION - PLEASE EXPEDITE... I did. Did anyone else do this? Did it help get the prints processed more quickly?

Thanks,

The "Doggie" Mom

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This is a very good question. Traditionally, we've told adopting families NOT to start their homestudy before being accepted into Abrazo's program. The reason was that we didn't want applicants to incur the costs of getting a homestudy specific to Abrazo's requirements (5 face to face interviews, 23+ topical categories, etc.) if we weren't certain we could fulfiill their needs.

However, the Texas Department of Protective & Family Services has just revised state licensing standards, which will take effect 1/1/07; one of these new standards will make it necessary for all applicants to have homestudies done before officially entering an adoption program.

(Here's my response: :rolleyes: )

We're not sure how Licensing thinks this is going to work, since it means ALL adoptive families will be forced to commit to payment of costly homestudy services before it's certain which agency will provide services (and in what state?)

However, homestudies will still be good for only six (6) months here in Texas, so it seems that applicants still need to have their applications in before the homestudy gets done, in hopes of getting into orientation before the homestudy has already expired (at which time costs are incurred for updates.)

So if that makes things "clear as mud," transitioningfromdogmom, my apologies-- but I'm blaming the folks at Licensing for that.

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"Clear as mud" is certainly right! But, also helpful because I will go ahead and mail our application so that we can find out about any "special" requirements the homestudy has to fulfill.

If we do complete the homestudy and application in order to hopefully attend the November orientation, will we have to fulfill different requirements come January 2007?

To add confusion, I might never have found Abrazo unless the homestudy agency hadn't recommended the Abrazo Agency. I think due to my Cuban/German heritage, they thought a hispanic/anglo child would be a great fit for us and they mentioned Abrazo immediately.

The "Doggie" Mom

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Elizabeth -

If you are an againer - how do the homestudies work then?

Say for example we decide to go in 2 years - is it the entire homestudy that we have to pay for or is it just the pieces that we need to pay for?

Or if we decided to go in January? Just wondering and maybe planning financially what may need to happen.

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"Clear as mud" is certainly right! But, also helpful because I will go ahead and mail our application so that we can find out about any "special" requirements the homestudy has to fulfill. If we do complete the homestudy and application in order to hopefully attend the November orientation, will we have to fulfill different requirements come January 2007?

You can find Abrazo's homestudy requirements (at present) under Professionals' Corner. But yes, any families entering the program now will also become subject to the standards that change in January 2007. There are plenty of them (more than 700 pages, to be exact. We'll post a link to the revised standards under Professionals' Corner in case anyone is really hard up for late night reading... even our staff hasn't taken on that project, yet!)

If you are an againer - how do the homestudies work then? Say for example we decide to go in 2 years - is it the entire homestudy that we have to pay for or is it just the pieces that we need to pay for? Or if we decided to go in January? Just wondering and maybe planning financially what may need to happen.

At present, if you've had a homestudy once, you just need an update the next go-round, and the update has to be current within 30 days of placement, so we normally tell againers to hold off on getting the update done until after they're matched, so that the single visit the update requires happens in a timely manner. Updates are significantly less expensive than original homestudies, since original studies require 5 face-to-face interviews in no less than three days time, and updates require just face-to-face interviews (joint and individual) done with every household member on just one day. (Of course, this is all subject to change if the wind blows at Licensing, again.)

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However, the Texas Department of Protective & Family Services has just revised state licensing standards, which will take effect 1/1/07; one of these new standards will make it necessary for all applicants to have homestudies done before officially entering an adoption program.

Elizabeth,

Does this mean that those of us with old outdated homestudies will need to update our homestudies before we come back???

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  • 4 months later...

Hi Jen!

Welcome to the forum and to Abrazo - just wanted to direct you to the homestudy section on the forum - hopefully it will answer your homestudy question - I'll try to find some other posts on here as well from others (more recent posts) regarding their homestudies - a lot will depend on your social worker and how quickly they move along with you.

I would allow about 6 weeks from start to finish - give or take.

Good for you for getting that going pronto - that's a big step and definitely not one that you want holding you up from meeting your precious little one!

Welcome again - from one forum addict to another :P

-Lisa

Hello!

My name is Jen and I have been obsessed with this forum for 3 days now. My husband and I have decided to adopt. We are 26 and 27 and I am infertile. We are tired of hearing "wait till your older it will happen"! I am a teacher and I feel that I LOVE so many children from all kinds of families...I have always known I can open my heart to an adopted child who would be my very own. Well I really just wanted to say HI! and that we are planning to attend the March orientation if we get all our ducks in a row. We are sending our pre-app this week and hope to hear back soon. I also am contacting a social worker next week to get a homestudy done. Does anyone know how many visits or how soon this can be done?

Lately we've been hearing lots of homestudy questions from prospective clients--what they consist of, how they're done, who does them, how much they cost... so how about we post some basics for newbies, then invite veteran Forumites with real-life homestudy experiences to share their insights and suggestions?

The homestudy is an official report done by a Master's level, licensed social worker in your home state and submitted to Abrazo for approval before you can match and/or place. We require that homestudies for couples involve no less than 5 face-to-face interviews with all household members (individually and jointly) and a home inspection, conducted in the course of no less than three separate calendar dates.

Texas standards require that agency-approved studies cover a total of 22 specified topics and they just changed the topical requirements in May 2002, so be sure any social worker you're considering knows the latest requirements!!! The original study expires six months from the date of the last visit; after that, an update visit done within 30 days prior to placement and citing all 22 topics and any changes must be on file approved by Abrazo before the adopting parents arrive for placement. Once you've had an acceptable homestudy done, if you seek to adopt a year or more later, Texas standards do not require that a whole new study be done--only an update, with supporting documents updated as well. This should cost considerably less than the full study.

That's the dry stuff--now onto more interesting feedback from the "Home/studied Team" out there. What kind of questions did your homestudy worker ask? What kinds of fees were you quoted when shopping around for homestudies? How did you decide who to hire? What did you hide just before the worker arrived at your house? (Better yet, what'd you forget to put away and hope she didn't notice?)  What do you wish you'd known before starting the study? What could you have nuked your spouse for saying during the interviews?

Did anybody out there actually endure a "white glove" test? (Most homestudy workers out there today probably have pretty lax housekeeping standards themselves and would be appalled to have their clients see their own homes.)

Did your worker allow you to read the study before it was finished, or give you a copy to keep? If so, what did you think of what was said about you? (An interesting sidenote: birthparents have no access to the homestudy unless their adoptive family specifically asks that they be provided a copy--would you? Why or why not?)

One veteran homestudy worker we know always used to try to schedule visits over meal hours in hopes of getting fed! while another complained about East Coast adoptors wanting to entertain him with home videos of their nephews' bris-- a brilliant Yiddish technique for keeping in-home social worker's visits short, we suspect!!  ;)

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I was talking with a social worker today and she told me that if my homestudy was five years or older I couldn't just do an update, I would have to have a brand new homestudy done. Does anyone know if this is correct?

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Melissa,

That sounds right. I know we had to start over, but it may have been because we were with a different agency. Although, it seems I remember hearing something about "five years" in there.

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I was talking with a social worker today and she told me that if my homestudy was five years or older I couldn't just do an update, I would have to have a brand new homestudy done. Does anyone know if this is correct?

Melissa,

We had to do a new homestudy for Hayden's adoption.

Virginia has wacky homestudy/adoption/ICPC rules so we had to start over again.......thankfully, we had saved, ok rather I had saved all the paper work from the first homestudy & was able to reference all of it for the homestudy we did for Hayden's adoption.

It stinks don't it?! :rolleyes:

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Texas doesn't require a whole new homestudy, so long as the original is available to the social worker; only an update is needed... so if you were planning on adopting your next child in Texas, you could probably convince a homestudy worker to just do the update as required here, since the placement and finalization would occur in our state under our laws.

(Unfortunately, I think some homestudy workers try to talk folks into repeating a "whole new" study rather than just updating because new studies bring in higher fees than updates do. And considering that Texas requires copies of every old study and update to be provided along with the current update, any "new study" that follows an original one isn't really a "new" study at all, but rather, a lengthier, costlier update, if you get right down to it!!)

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Many times,the "old" home study ,with the exception of the biographical information,doesnt include ANY of the information required by Texas. This may explain why some social workers want to redo the original homestudy. They are essentially having to rewrite it to meet the current guidelines,particularly if it is "old" or was done by another agency. Ellen Rardin

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Many times,the "old" home study ,with the exception of the biographical information,doesnt include ANY of the information required by Texas. This may explain why some social workers want to redo the original homestudy. They are essentially having to rewrite it to meet the current guidelines,particularly if it is "old" or was done by another agency. Ellen Rardin

Hi Ellen,

Would ours since when you and Melanie did our homestudy we adopted from Texas?

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Many times,the "old" home study ,with the exception of the biographical information,doesnt include ANY of the information required by Texas. This may explain why some social workers want to redo the original homestudy. They are essentially having to rewrite it to meet the current guidelines,particularly if it is "old" or was done by another agency. Ellen Rardin

Hi Ellen,

Would ours since when you and Melanie did our homestudy we adopted from Texas?

Hi Melissa, Enjoyed those cute pics of your daughter! It would need to be redone to fit the 22 more things that the Texas licensing department has dreamed up since your last go round 5 years ago! Give me a call if you would like and I will be glad to talk with you about it!

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Hi Melissa, Enjoyed those cute pics of your daughter! It would need to be redone to fit the 22 more things that the Texas licensing department has dreamed up since your last go round 5 years ago! Give me a call if you would like and I will be glad to talk with you about it!

Thanks for the kind word about Grace Ann. Hard to believe it will be five years ago this April since we sat across from you telling you how much we wanted to be parents.

Thanks, I will probably be calling you sometime in the near future.

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Melissa,

I just love you talking about updating your homestudy!! I can't wait for you guys to start down the road again! I am sure Grace Ann will make a wonderful big sister and be a great help as well!!!

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  • 7 months later...

Please, please, please!!! stay on top of the requirements and be sure your "stuff" is current!!

An ORIGINAL HOMESTUDY is valid for six (6) months from the date of the social worker's last in-person visits (NOT when the social worker signs and dates the study.)

If your original homestudy included all the necessary visits and is current but information must be changed or added, your homestudy worker just needs to fax Abrazo a written ADDENDUM. (This does not require more visits.)

Once the original homestudy expires in Texas (even if it would be considered valid for 6 more months in your home state), you will need to have an UPDATE done within 30 days of your expected placement date.

If you have to have an update, BE SURE you have a face-to-face interview with the homestudy worker that (1) includes all household members and (2) is conducted in the home!

If your update is not done, complete and/or current within 30 days, placement cannot occur! Timing is everything... being unprepared can cost you the entire case.

Never allow a homestudy worker to "fudge" a visit!! That's fraud-- on their part and yours.

Whether you're doing an original study or an update,remember that the social worker must cover (then cite in his/her report) EVERY topical area listed under Texas' requirements, whether or not the factual information has changed. Be sure you're familiar with these, so you know that it's all being done "to the letter." Because if not, it's going to cost you to get the corrections made, and it's going to slow down your placement progress.

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And here, again, are the current requirements and topical areas that must be included in EVERY homestudy and update for all Texas placements through Abrazo:

Homestudies which meet the standards of Abrazo and T.D.F.P.S. (Licensing) must be done by a licensed MSW and include five (5) in-person contacts held on at least three (3) separate days.

Interviews must include at least one documented interview with each individual applicant, two or more additional joint interviews and one with the entire family and with collateral contacts as necessary; a personal home inspection must also be completed. There must also be an individual interview with each child in the home age 3 or above, and with any other persons (domestic staff, boarders, relatives) living with the family in that home or residing on the premises.

Collateral contacts (with references and each adult and/or noncustodial child of applicants) must also be documented.

A copy of the homestudy worker's vita/resume as well as applicants' marriage license, any divorce decrees, birth certificates, criminal/child abuse clearances, and birth certificates/adoption decrees for any other child/ren already in the home must accompany completed homestudy.

Topical categories which must be specifically cited in each original study/update are:

1) Dates of each interview/visit

2) Applicants' feelings about their parents and childhood, including any abuse/neglect and resolution of same

3) Quality of the marital and family relationships, including a review and documentation of the marriage license, and information on any previous marriages, divorces or deaths of former spouses; also assess stability of the couple's relationship and strengths and problems and how these issues will relate to an adopted child; also assess quality of relationships between applicants and their biological children living in or out of the home and how any issues will relate to an adopted child.

4) Expectations for adopted children, including plans for ongoing adoption education and age-appropriate exposure to birth information, feelings about birthparents and plans for ongoing contact, future goals for child's development and progress, child discipline and adoptors' willingness to adhere to Texas prohibitions against corporal punishment. Include assessment of appliants' knowledge of child development and child-care experiences.

5) Applicants' motivation for adopting and social worker's assessment of the applicants' motivation and its effect on their ability to accept and parent an adopted child.

6) Documentation that applicants' ages are appropriate to age/developmental needs of child being sought; applicants must be at least 21 and homestudy must include legal documentation verifying this.

7) Verification of applicants' income and financial management history including employment histories, debt loads/assets, insurance coverage and post-placement employment plans

8) History of applicants' residence and documentation of citizenship status including length of time at each residence (citing street address, city and state) over past 10 years, available community resources for childrens' needs, immigration record/s, discussion of home health/safety standards, and verification that the physical home environment is appropriate for good childcare

9) Documentation of applicants' infertility status if applicable, and parental ability to resolve fertility issues to accept and parent a child not born to them

10) Attitudes of extended family concerning adoption including discussion and assessment of their intended level of involvement in childcare, attitudes towards adopted children and acceptance of the adoption plan.

11) Results of criminal clearances and child abuse registry checks for all household members over age 13: FBI clearance is now required as well.

12) Confirmation of 3 collateral (reference) checks personally conducted by homestudy worker

13) Homestudy worker's professional evaluation of the physical, mental and emotional health status of all persons living in the adoptive home including substance abuse history; social worker must observe these persons for any indication of problems and follow-up with professional evaluation when indicated, documenting information obtained through observations or through a physician's statement.

14) Sensitivity to and feelings about children subjected to abuse, neglect, separation from and/or loss of their biological families for applicants open to toddlers/older children. Assessment of applicants' sensitivity to and acceptance of child's relationships with birthsiblings, and applicants' reactions to child's feelings about birthparents and possibility of future contact between child and birthfamily.

15) Review of attitudes about religion including applicants' church involvement and willingness to provide child opportunity for spiritual development and guarantee health protection if parental religious beliefs prohibit certain medical treatment

16) Affirmation of family's intent to honor diversity and maintain child's cultural and/or ethnic identity with citation of specified plans for family exposure to child's ethnic community and integration of cultural tradition into family lifestyle

17) Review of support systems available to adoptive family and and assessment of what support they may receive from these resources.

18) Language(s) spoken by each adoptive applicant.

19) Proof of vaccinations and any needed treatments for pets in the home.

20) Applicants' ability to work with/accept specific kinds of behaviors and backgrounds. Limitations of prospective family with specification of those characteristics, backgrounds, or needs the applicants cannot accept.

21) Homestudy worker's certification of applicants' readiness to adopt, as well as documentation of the number, age, race and gender (if applicable) of child/ren for whom the home is approved

22) Citation of any disabilities of applicants and evaluation of impact upon parenting abilities

23) Telephone numbers for official entities where complaints regarding study may be filed.

24) Background information from prior child-placing agencies/social workers that previously completed any studies on applicants (for adoption or foster care), including information related to parents' experience and performance as foster/adoptive parents for the previous agency, and copies of such screenings, any deficiency record/s and resolution, and current fire/health inspections

25) Homestudy worker's credentials which must include a master's degree in social work or human services and 3 years child-placing experience with a licensed facility.

NOTE: Any omissions will require additional written addendums, necessitating additional effort and time on your part and ours, so please: be thorough! In Texas, original studies are valid for six (6) months from the last interview date. Should placement not occur within six months of original study, updates must be done by meeting all household members in the home within 30 days prior to placement to review and update each of the 25 categories, documenting same in official update forwarded to Abrazo. All updates and addendums must be submitted prior to matching and placement.

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Why is it that couples outside of Texas have to redo there homestudy and couple in Texas do not?

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