Step 2: Adoptive Home Study

All prospective adoptive parents whether or not they are getting foster licensed must undergo an adoptive home study and this is completed through Division of Licensing Resources (DLR) or a private agency. If you are requesting an unlicensed adoption only home study, DLR will accept and complete these requests, but they may get completed more timely through a private agency. DLR’s primary focus is general foster care, because homes are needed for those children coming into care. If you have any questions regarding adoption home studies please contact Debbie Marker at 360.902.7968. 

The purpose of the adoptive home study is to evaluate whether parents are qualified to adopt. The process involves education and preparation as well as the gathering of information about the prospective parents.

An adoptive home study includes:

  • Application (DSHS 10-354). Provided by the agency. 
  • Criminal history background check (DSHS 09-653). Organized through the licensor or DCFS worker, an instate criminal history check must be completed on every person over the age of 16 residing in the home. A national fingerprint check must be completed on all adults in the home (age 18 and above). 
  • Child abuse and neglect inquiries. This is part of the background check. Washington State records will be checked for everyone in the home ages 16 and older. If anyone in your home, age 18 and above, has lived in another state during the past 5 years, a check will be made of records in other states. This will be organized through your licensor or DCFS worker. 
  • Personal information (DSHS 15-276). This DSHS form is used to provide your social worker with information about you. There are no right or wrong answers; this is just a way for the licensor to get to know you. 
    The following is a general outline of what to expect, but your licensor will provide you with more detailed questions:
    • Background
      • Family facts (birth place, parents, siblings, childhood, personality)
      • Education
      • Employment history/military service
      • Values, goals, interests, and activities
      • Cultural background
    • Relationships
      • Spouse/partner
      • Children (interviews with all adult and minor children)
      • Others living with you
    • Parenting and experience with children
      • Family roles/activities
      • Attitudes on parenting
      • Experience and training
      • Discipline
    • Religious/spiritual affiliation and practices
    • Medical/psychosocial
      • General medical
      • Abuse history
      • Domestic violence
      • Drug/alcohol
      • Mental health/counseling
    • Home and neighborhood
    • Support systems
    • Family financial
    • Potential for permanency 
      • The concept of adoption as a lifelong developmental process and commitment
      • The potential for the child to have feelings of identity confusion and loss regarding separation from the birth parents
      • Relevance of the child’s relation with siblings and the potential benefit to the child by providing a continuing relationship and contact with known siblings
      • Disclosure of the fact of adoption to the child
      • The child's possible questions about birth parents and relatives
      • The relevance of the child's racial, ethnic, and cultural heritage
  • Documentation of marriages and divorces (DSHS 09-979) (copy of marriage certificates and divorce decrees are required). For information on obtaining marriage and divorce certificates, contact the Washington State Department of Health.
  • Medical statements on persons adopting. This is a confidential form that your physician will fill out regarding current and historic medical conditions. Your licensor will provide you with the form. 
  • Income/financial statements (DSHS 14-452) . A worksheet is provided to you by your licensor. The licensor will ask for information on the following topics: employment, source of income, housing costs, assets, loans, etc. 
  • References. 3 references (only 1 can be a relative). References are generally used to get a picture of a family from an outsider. A questionnaire asking specific questions must be filled out by your references. Your licensor will send the questionnaire directly to your references. 
  • Contacts with your licensor. At least 3 contacts will be made with your licensor and two will be in the family home to better understand your lifestyle and family dynamics. During these visits the licensor will discuss all other licensing requirements and will do a walk-through of the home to ensure that your home meets the minimum licensing requirements.

Home Study Approval
The home study must be approved to continue with the adoption process. The length of time from the date DLR received the application to approving the home study varies, but the agency goal is to have it completed within 90 days. If you do want to become a licensed foster parent the home study process is the same, but there will be additional training requirements. Read about the requirements on the foster parent training site.

Washington Adoption Resource Exchange (WARE)
Once the home study is approved, have your DCFS adoption worker register you with the Washington Adoption Resource Exchange (WARE). If you don't already have a child in your home, this service will enable other DCFS adoption workers to see that there is a family with an approved home study waiting for a child. 

WARE Family Registration Form

How to Adopt