Adoption by 2011, will I be ready in time?
January 23, 2008 5:00 PM   Subscribe

I would like to begin the three year long process to adopt a child internationally. I am located in the state of Illinois. What kind of requirements will I need to fulfill through the homestudy?

I know I fulfill requirements such as age, health, marriage length (and presumably agreeableness). My questions center around finances (not paying for the adoption, but as required by the homestudy for raising the child) and home. For clarification I work and my husband is in school, but he should be done at the end of 2008. For home purposes, I currently live in a one bedroom apartment. Not adequate for a child, I know, but I'm obviously going to have time to upgrade by 2011. However, will I have to have all this *ready* before I can process the paperwork?

Yes, I know that I can call and ask the homestudy provider and social worker, but I'd like to have some information before I take that step. Any other requirements that I have not listed here that I should be aware of?

Actual data most helpful, but any personal stories about homestudies or adoption in Illinois ok.
posted by aetg to Law & Government (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I interned at an adoption agency that placed foster children, but our social workers also did homestudies for other adoptions as well.
A homestudy will evaluate not only your home and you, but your attitudes about childrearing. You and your husband will also be interviewed about your own family and your husband's family with questions like, what was your childhood like? Would you consider your family abusive? What do you think the role of a child in a family is? etc.
All I can say is be truthful and accurate but don't give more than what is asked--like if you were answering a question in court.
There should be an adoptive parent network in your area. That would be a wonderful first step for you to see what specific questions or topics are being asked about these days.
posted by FergieBelle at 5:38 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I guess I'm not too worried about attitudes about childrearing personally. Although thanks for the suggestion about not saying more than asked. I'll let Mr. Aetg know although I'm not sure it will help!
posted by aetg at 5:40 PM on January 23, 2008

I know a couple in Illinois who adopted two girls from China. I don't know anything about their homestudy, but the financials were this: they brought a big bag of money (in the $20,000 range, per kid) with which to grease the various Chinese officials who might stand in the way. Your mileage may vary. Good luck!
posted by gjc at 6:36 PM on January 23, 2008

Response by poster: Oh wow, gfc, that's quite a lot! Luckily, the agency I'm working with takes care of the financials and actually recommends against taking large sums of money to China at all. So, I think I'm ok there.
posted by aetg at 6:41 PM on January 23, 2008

Yeah, it's almost like an incentive to make more "unwanted" babies...
posted by gjc at 7:26 PM on January 23, 2008

With my home study (I'm a foster parent in California), I had to actually have the room ready, even though I didn't have a kid yet (so it was sort of chicken/egg). The room had to have a bed and bureau, I think. I had the bed, and bought the bureau the night before. I moved out all of the usual junk that was in the room (which was my office), and pretended like it was an empty-ish ready-to-use bedroom. When the person left I put all my junk back in there. It was good that I had an office, because the room that the kid has actually been living in was occupied at the time by my then roommate. (If that makes any sense.)

I would probably try to start the process, but be up front about the current bedroom situation. There may be stuff that you can do and check off the list besides the home study (background check, classes if required, whatever). They may want you and your hubbie to do some of that together.

There may be a point when you can't get to the next phase of the process until you actually create the bedroom-without-an-occupant for the social worker person to come look at.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 8:32 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Homestudy is one of the earliest steps in the process, and the majority of your time will be spent waiting for various things to happen as a result of the homestudy approval. So if a social worker did consider your finances and housing inadequate for approval, yes that would gum up the works and and throw you off your timeline.

But do ask this stuff now of your preferred agencies, before you even settle on where to apply, because there is wide variance in the standards of living they (and your country of choice) will consider good enough for placement. There are many that will place into a stable loving family of modest means. Though realistically, intl adoption always requires a higher bar just because with expenses running $20-50k per child just for the adoption, you've got to be able to show the ability to take that hit while still having enough left over to cover baby costs. Note also that you'll need to show ability to cover health insurance for the child, and possibly life insurance premiums for you.

Consider The Kid is written by a social worker specializing in China adoptions, and In A Holding Pattern documents the journey leading to the recently-finalized adoption of an adorable baby boy from Korea. Both are great resources. On the latter, check out the detailed timeline and expense tally on the sidebar. That will give you a good idea of how soon your current financial limitations will have an impact.

Good luck!!!
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 9:13 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

(in the $20,000 range, per kid) with which to grease the various Chinese officials who might stand in the way.

Wow, incredibly offensive comment. You will find the fee to grease the wheels with the wildly corrupt Chinese officials is a US$3000 "donation" to fund the rather extensive process and perhaps a little of the year and a bit of care the child has likely received. The rest is soaked up by travel fees, hotels, meals, interpreters/facilitators, legal fees, home inspections, adoption agency fees, and the other million and a half things involved in international adoption. The total fee is around US$20K.

Come back when you know what you are talking about. Because apart from this ignorant little drive-by slander of an entire international system, you are as wrong as it is possible to be.
posted by Wolof at 11:05 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

My missus (in Indiana) works at an adoption agency, and they do homestudies for international adoption. You'll find the requirements for a successful homestudy (and the followups) vary depending on which countrty you wish to adopt from.

There's no reason for you to not go ahead and contact a licensed agency and ask about the requirements. Frankly, they'd be happy to see you taking the initiative.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:53 AM on January 24, 2008

Any other requirements that I have not listed here that I should be aware of?

I would like to begin the three year long process...
I know I fulfill requirements such as...
I currently live...
I'm obviously going to have time to...

Are you going to adopt this baby by yourself or with your husband? You mentioned your husband as a factor in your living conditions and as a consideration for approval (married for a good length of time.

You should be aware that it sounds like you are adopting this baby by yourself. Maybe you want to get your husband on board?
posted by Monday at 5:48 AM on January 24, 2008

Response by poster: *I* know that I've overused the I pronoun before Monday and it doesn't just extend to this topic. Let's rest assured my husband is on board, I just find it odd to say We when he isn't really typing the question with me.

So don't worry here, *we've* discussed it.
posted by aetg at 6:15 AM on January 24, 2008

Wolof, it may be offensive, but I'm not the Chinese official(s) who accepted cash for an infant. I'm just reporting what actually happened to a couple of close acquaintance, twice, approx three and six years ago. Perhaps the adoption agencies have found ways to better insulate the adoptive parents from the realities of the international adoption business?
posted by gjc at 9:08 AM on January 24, 2008

My cousin is in China right this second, with adopted daughter in hand. It's been a long road for them, and one complication was that they purchased a new home and moved after their initial homestudy was complete. They didn't have to restart the process from scratch, but they did have to have their new home "studied" to make sure that it was up to snuff, and this added additional time.

And, not to fan the flames, they were advised by their (very reputable) agency to bring a pile of cash with them, in crisp, clean hundreds, "just in case". I don't know whether that money has changed hands, but I'll be sure to ask when they get home end of next week. The "clean" bit was stressed, as dirty/worn bills would not be acceptable.
posted by johnvaljohn at 9:46 AM on January 24, 2008

I'm just reporting what actually happened to a couple of close acquaintance, twice, approx three and six years ago.

I adopted three and a half years ago. Perhaps this is a special tax for Americans? I have met many many parents of children adopted from China in Australia and have never ever heard of such a thing.

The "clean" bit was stressed, as dirty/worn bills would not be acceptable.

We had to take new bills for the orphanage ourselves. There was no "just in case" involved, however. The process was open, transparent, and ethical in the extreme.
posted by Wolof at 1:27 PM on January 24, 2008

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