AHH Kentucky Home Study Services

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1 AHH Kentucky Home Study Services for Domestic, Embryo and International Adoptions Serving clients throughout Kentucky Copyright 2014 A Helping Hand Adoption Agency For more information on A Helping Hand s Adoption Programs, visit our website: For more information on Nightlight s Adoption Programs, visit our website: A Helping Hand and Nightlight Christian Adoptions provide nationwide adoption services. Nightlight Christian Adoptions, Inc. has offices in: Anaheim Hills, California Littleton, Colorado Lexington, Kentucky Greenville, South Carolina revised 9 July 2014 i

2 Revised A Helping Hand Adoption Agency Kentucky Home Study Services What is a home study? A home study is a document to verify that you qualify to adopt a child. A home study professional meets with you in your home at least twice to ask you various questions about your background, your values, the strengths of your marriage (if you are married), your finances, and your reasons for adopting, in addition to other questions. It is NOT a white-glove inspection. As part of our overall services, A Helping Hand conducts home studies for KY residents adopting domestically from here in the United States, as well as for families interested in international adoption. A Helping Hand also conducts home studies for those interested in adopting children with special needs. Many children are available for adoption throughout the United States and other countries. Why do I need a home study? There are many reasons that you will need a home study, the main being that in order to adopt, you are first required to have an approved home study report completed. It is best to have your home study completed by a licensed and accredited home study provider. In addition, if you are adopting domestically (adopting a child born in the United States), meeting with a social worker will help prepare you for meeting the birthmother. The questions posed in a home study are the ones you can expect a birthmother to ask. Birthmothers tend to be interested in the same character traits that a social worker is looking for in a couple: stability, a good marital relationship, love of children, and strong family values. A birthmother will also be reassured to know that you have met certain state requirements by completing your home study. Most states, private agencies and attorneys will not match a couple with a birthmother until the prospective adoptive family has an approved domestic home study. Also, the courts require that you have an approved home study before you can adopt. The home study demonstrates to the courts that you can provide the kind of home needed by the child being adopted. Finally, if you are adopting internationally, US Citizenship and Immigration Services bases your approval, in part, on a home study. Many countries that place children for adoption overseas require a home study to be submitted to them, too. Why should I use an agency to conduct my home study? Although some states allow private social workers to conduct home studies, some countries (such as China and Russia) and some states (like Florida) require that a home study be completed through a licensed agency. Moreover, using an experienced agency such as AHH will give you confidence that your social worker will be aware of and meet all requirements for the courts and the Kentucky Cabinet of Children and Families, and if you re pursuing an international adoption for US Immigration and the country from which you are adopting. We help you throughout the process by providing guidance. As an agency, we are required by the state of Kentucky to have at least two face-to-face visits with you; one of these must be in your home and one can possibly be at the AHH office, where we will discuss adoption issues. Being more prepared for adoption can help reduce the uncertainty and anxiety associated with the process. During these meetings, we will discuss the issues associated with openness in adoption, birth parents, telling your child of his/her adoption, and other core issues. Depending upon the type of adoption you are pursuing, we will also discuss being a conspicuous family, trans-racial adoptions, adopting an older child, issues related to receiving a child from overseas, birth order when adopting, and other matters. If you are working with another agency for the adoption placement, AHH will honor your commitment to that agency and will conduct your home study and sign all agreements between AHH (the home study agency) and your placing agency. AHH will also work with you and a caseworker if you are seeking to adopt a child through the social services department of KY or another state. Social service departments require that home studies be conducted by a state licensed agency. What happens during the home study? During the home study process we will meet with you at least twice. The number of visits often depends on circumstances and the country from which you are adopting. Because this is a home study, we will have at least one meeting at your home. This is not a white-glove inspection, but a time where we can visit your home and see that it is safe and reasonably clean and comfortable for a child.

3 Revised As required by law, we also meet with each adult member of the household individually. This does not mean that we have to set up a separate appointment; sometimes the husband will go in another room while we talk with the wife, and vice versa. Also we will meet with your children age three and older briefly and ask them a few age appropriate questions. If you have adult children not living in the home, we will contact them by phone to ask them questions about their relationship with you while growing up and their relationship with you now. During the interview we want to find out about you and what makes you the person you are. We want to learn of your strengths, and we also believe that there is strength in weakness, so even if everything about you is not perfect, we want to find out what you have learned from mistakes or difficulties in your life. Some of the topics covered in the home study include: your childhood and background, your lifestyle and interests, your marriage, parenting or experience with children, your health status, any criminal record, financial stability, and the type of child you seek to adopt. Although the home study is assessing your physical, mental and emotional ability to parent a child, most of the home study is really education about 70 percent and 30 percent is collecting informational forms and interviewing you. What parts of Kentucky does AHH work in? AHH provides home study services for the entire state of Kentucky. What services does AHH provide? In addition to conducting home studies in Kentucky, A Helping Hand offers a range of other services to its clients. Help with Applying to Immigration. Later in this packet we ve included information about how to apply to Immigration for an international adoption. Furthermore, we will personally answer any questions you have about Immigration processing, and we will help you if your case is not being approved in a timely manner by USCIS. Adoption Advice and Advocacy. AHH can assist you in deciding what type of child may be appropriate for you to consider adopting. AHH also assists to see that paperwork is processed correctly and quickly through the United States Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children for Interstate Adoptions. We serve as more than just a home study agency; we serve as your advocates. Education. AHH is very committed to educating families. Everyone who uses AHH s home study services will complete at least 10 hours of adoption education. (If you are adopting from China, there are 12 hours of education required.) All families must complete online training, Because They Waited, through the Heart of the Matter Seminar Series. If AHH is just your home study agency, then your placing agency may have educational requirements that you will complete through them. However, AHH will enter into an agreement with your placing agency so that documentation is provided of the education that you have received to both agencies. Before AHH will complete your home study, you must complete the Parent Education Agreement, indicating that you have completed, or will complete, the approved educational requirements. This statement is included among the supporting documents submitted with your home study. Your home study will not be approved until you have completed the parent education requirements. Adoption education helps you determine what type of adoption is right for you, and it also prepares you for parenting a child whose background requires special skills. Not every issue can be addressed while you are going through the home study process. Additional education will make you more confident during the adoption process, and it will connect you with resources that you can use as you continue to educate yourself about adoption for the rest of your life. Post-Adoption Support. After you come home with your child, there are still a few forms to be filled out and postplacement/post-adoption visits and reports to be completed. We will be in contact with you to help you with this process. We are also available to talk with you about adjustment issues or parenting issues once you are home with your child. This additional assistance is included in your agency fee. In the unlikely event that your adoption disrupts, AHH can guide you to the appropriate resources. When should I have a home study? Regardless of what adoption plan you choose, it is usually best to have the home study completed as early as possible in the adoption process. However, before you begin an International home study, it is best for you to know the country from which you want to adopt and what agency will be your placing agency (if you are not adopting through AHH). If you are certain that you will adopt but are unsure of what type of adoption to pursue, you can still begin the home study process. In most instances, a home study can be easily modified to comply with the requirements associated with the type of

4 Revised adoption you choose to pursue. However, it can save you extra time, work and fees if you are certain of the country you wish to adopt from at the beginning of the process. For Domestic Adoptions, before you are matched with a birthmother, you need to have a completed home study. Most attorneys and agencies will not match a birthmother with you until you have an approved home study. Regarding International adoption, you cannot be assigned a child from another country until you have a completed, approved home study. What if I haven t decided between domestic, embryo or international adoption? If you are considering an embryo adoption we can approve you for such, and can also amend your home study to a domestic adoption if it turns out that embryo adoption is not right for you. Because the home studies are very similar, there will be some adjustments to change a home study, but not many. Regardless of what type of adoption you pursue, we want to know that you are qualified to adopt and that you are honest with yourselves, others, and your child regarding adoption issues. There is a small fee to change a home study. Many families are unsure of what route they want to take. Initially, some parents want to consider both. If you are undecided about whether you want to adopt a child in the United States or from another country, it is usually better for the home study provider to conduct a domestic home study. If you eventually decide to adopt a child outside the United States, a domestic home study can be adjusted to become an International home study. However, be aware that if you adopt through an agency other than AHH or Nightlight (for example, you use another agency for a China adoption) you must be sure that this placing agency will enter into an interagency agreement with AHH (which would then only be the home study agency in this case). If you decide to adopt internationally after having a domestic home study completed, the home study must be less than six (6) months old when it arrives at US Citizenship and Immigration Services. The last visit to your home by the certified investigator must also have been within the last twelve (12) months. What should I know about an international home study? If you are starting an international adoption with a child-placing agency other than AHH, be sure that the agency will enter into an agreement with AHH to conduct your home study. AHH is Hague accredited, yet every agency has the right to determine which agencies they will accept home studies from. The home study must also be reviewed by your placing agency (if not AHH) to make sure that it meets the requirements of the country from which you want to adopt. If AHH is not your placing agency, then we will enter into a Supervised or Exempt Provider inter-agency contract with your placing agency. Regardless of whether you are adopting from a non-hague country or a Hague-country, the home study is submitted to the National Benefits Center where it is reviewed by US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Immigration then sends your home study packet and approval to the National Visa Center, which then sends your approval to the US Embassy where you will eventually get your child s visa. How is a Hague-country home study different from a non-hague-country home study? AHH has almost the identical requirements for both home studies. In Kentucky, if you are adopting domestically or internationally, you and anyone else in your household who is 12 years or older must have a child abuse clearance from every state and country in which you have resided since you were 12 years old. Also, some countries, such as China, have no child abuse databases or do not release such information. We must then obtain a letter from the country authorities stating that they have no such database and do not release this sort of information. Obtaining these clearances from each state takes a few weeks to complete. However, obtaining clearances from other countries can take an extraordinary length of time and much effort. Because of the time involved in obtaining these clearances, we also recommend that these clearances be completed before a home study visit is scheduled so that your home study does not expire before the clearances are completed. How long is my home study current? A home study for a domestic adoption is current for one year in KY. However, all supporting documents need to be under one year old when a child is placed with a family for adoption. You are responsible for ensuring that the supporting documents and your home study are current. For International adoptions, you are also responsible for tracking the Immigration expiration date of your approval, and contacting the agency ahead of time to begin the process of updating your home study. An International home study must be less than 6 months old and all supporting documents must be less

5 Revised than 12 months old when submitted to USCIS (Citizenship and Immigration Services). Your home study will need to be updated and resubmitted before your Immigration approval expires (15 months for Hague countries and 18 months for non-hague countries). The fee for updating a home study (over one year old) initially conducted by AHH is half the current cost of the original home study. For each update, the home study provider must visit you in your home to identify changes that have occurred, and then include those changes in an updated home study report. When you are ready to have your home study updated, just call AHH to arrange to have a social worker assigned to visit you once your home study fees and post-placement fees have been paid. What if I fail to complete my home study requirements within one year? Failure to Finalize Home Study: Upon signing the home study agreement, you are agreeing to complete your portion of the home study requirements in a timely manner. If at the one year mark from the beginning of your home study process, the home study has not been completed due to your own failure to finalize documents, parent education, and/or visits, your file will be closed. In the event that you wish to have your file reopened after the one year mark and continue working on your home study, you will be charged a home study update fee to reopen your file and finalize your home study (in addition to updating any documents that have expired and paying mileage for an additional home visit, if it has been a year or more since your last visit). If your file is closed out after a year and you do not wish to reopen your file and finalize your home study, you will not be refunded any of the home study fee payment. Also, if your home study social worker is having difficulty receiving a response from you regarding finalizing documents, parent education, and/or visits at the 6 month mark, you will receive a reminder about your agreement to complete your home study requirements within one year. Can I have the home study visit in the evening or on the weekend? Yes, our staff is very flexible and a social worker can generally arrange a time for a home visit that is convenient for you and your family. What paperwork is required for a home study report? Enclosed are forms for you to complete. Before the social worker can schedule the first home visit, you must complete and submit the following initial documents to our office: Application for Home study (and fee, if applicable) - with Additional Background form, All Applicants form, and International Adoption/Home Study Applicants form all attached Home Study Agreement Home Study Fee Schedule/Agreement Post-Placement Fee Agreement Parent Education Requirements Agreement KY form for either International or Domestic Please complete and submit the following documents as soon as possible: Residential History forms (one for each applicant including all addresses since age 18) Child Abuse or Neglect Registry Check Request form (one form for each person living in the home who is age 12 or older signatures must be witnessed, but not notarized) Duty to Disclose/Candor statement Disclosure of Previous Home Study form Autobiography (one for each applicant) Copy of most recent 1040 tax form (first 2 pages of form only) Look at the Checklist of Documents Required for Home study for more information on documents that you should gather for the home study process. Except for the ones listed above, the supporting home study documents can be gathered throughout the process and mailed to our office. Documents that may take some time to acquire, such as the reference letters and the physician's statements, may be mailed to our office at a later date.

6 Revised Please pay very careful attention to instructions on the Checklist of Documents Required for Home study. If a reference letter or physician s letter has insufficient information, it may have to be redone. Furthermore, if the physician s handwriting on the physical exam form is illegible, the information will have to be resubmitted. Completing the forms can be a bit confusing, so be careful and be sure to sign your name on all background clearance request forms. Feel free to call AHH or us with any questions you have in completing these forms. What if I want to adopt an older child or one with special needs? If you would consider adopting a child with special needs, an older child, or a sibling group, you must be sure that your home study addresses (1) what special needs you are open to considering and (2) what special needs you would consider on a case-by-case basis. If you want to adopt a child with special physical/medical needs, or a child who may face emotional/psychological issues due to the child s being older or having a difficult background, you must complete the Special Needs Assessment Questionnaire, and these issues must be carefully addressed with you by the home study provider. In addition, you will need to demonstrate that you are well educated in adoption-related issues, are prepared, have the resources to adopt such a child, and that you will remain committed to being further educated throughout the adoption and beyond. It is best to be home study approved for the widest range of special needs options that are potentially acceptable to you and for which your homestudy provider feels you are capable. Of course, being approved for special cases does not obligate you to accept a placement that you re not comfortable with. However, if a special case (such as a sibling group) becomes available but you re not home study approved for that type of case, you will have to complete an addendum to the home study, which will require additional time and fees. What if I want to adopt a child who is in the custody of Social Services? There are more than 126,000 children available for adoption here in the United States. These are children who have been placed into a state s care because of abuse or neglect. There is usually no agency fee for the adoption of these children. In fact, the child may qualify for special monthly subsidies. The only expenses would be for your home study, court report and attorney fees to finalize the adoption. If you want to adopt a child who is in foster care through the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services here in Kentucky, your home study must be conducted by an employee of the Cabinet, unless your income is considered by the Cabinet to be too high. However, if you want to adopt a child through another state s social service department, you will need to have a home study conducted by a licensed adoption agency in Kentucky. Most children adopted through social services are considered to have special needs. Therefore, you will need to be approved to adopt a child with special needs, and as noted in the previous section, these issues will need to be addressed thoroughly before completion of your home study. Who qualifies to adopt? Many people worry needlessly that they will not pass the home study process. Nearly everyone who desires to adopt meets the prospective adoptive parent requirements. However, it is very important that you be completely honest up front with the social worker, so that if there are any areas of concern, such as a criminal history, the circumstances can be explained in the home study report. A less-than-perfect record will not automatically disqualify you from adopting, but we will look to see that there is not a pattern of recent difficulties and that there is a reasonable explanation for the problems in your past history. Although families are occasionally disqualified on the basis of their background usually because of a recent criminal history nearly every family that pursues a homestudy is eventually approved for adoption. Many couples worry about supposed skeletons in the closet. But remember that when a social worker conducts your homestudy, he/she is not looking for reasons to disqualify you; he/she simply wants to know that you are capable of providing a child with a loving and secure environment. Most couples who seek to adopt privately are in their late thirties to early forties and have accomplished other life goals that lead to being good parents, such as emotional and financial stability. When an agency social worker writes your home study, he/she is your advocate. The social worker will present you in the best light. If you think something in your past may present a problem, talk with us openly about the matter. Some people naturally worry about arrests made when they were much younger, such as for shoplifting. However, other problems are more serious, such as repeated divorces, a recent recovery from alcoholism, or a continual criminal history. Please be up-front in telling us about these potential problems from the very beginning. Although you may have an issue that would not disqualify you from receiving an approved home study (e.g., misconduct when you were 18 years old), this issue could possibly disqualify you from adopting from a specific country. We at AHH

7 Revised do not want to start a home study for you only to find out that the country from which you want to adopt will not permit the adoption due to a criminal record, however minor it may be. We are willing to work closely with your placing agency on sensitive issues, but all criminal records (even if the charges were dropped or unfounded) must be reported in your home study. Such information cannot be taken out of the home study that is sent overseas. What may appear to be a minor incident or youthful indiscretion may keep you from adopting in some countries. Therefore, AHH will want to discuss any such issues with your placing agency before we begin the home study process. Again, we do not want you to pay for a home study that cannot be used for an international adoption for the specific country you have chosen. Sometimes couples will ask what they should and should not discuss with a social worker. We encourage you to be forthright and let the social worker determine what should be included in your home study and how the information should be presented. Difficult situations from your past do not automatically disqualify you, but issues of any abuse must be addressed in the home study. If you were the victim of abuse, explain how you have overcome this abuse. You are not disqualified for having experienced it, but you should be able to demonstrate how it may have affected you and how you have dealt with it. The reason the social worker must discuss this issue with you is to make sure that you are emotionally stable in spite of being abused, that you are not going to abuse a child in the same manner, and that a child from a difficult background is not going to push your buttons and perhaps trigger problems in your life that you have not sufficiently resolved yet. Furthermore, if you are adopting internationally, Immigration requires that the home study state whether you have been the victim or offender of abuse. When a social worker asks you difficult and potentially embarrassing questions, he/she is not poking around to get the dirt on you. The desire is to address issues that could raise red flags later in the adoption process. AHH will always abide by professional and legal standards of confidentiality. The following problems will not automatically disqualify you as adoptive parents: You have been married only a short time. Some states (and countries) have laws regarding how long you ve been married, and some placement agencies may require you to have been married a minimum period of time. AHH prefers that all adoptive families be married a minimum of 3 years when beginning the adoption process. Exceptions are handled on a case by case basis. You are not married. Most countries restrict adoptions to married couples, but if the country from which you wish to adopt allows singles to adopt, AHH will conduct your home study. You are divorced. If you have been divorced (even more than once), you can still adopt. A social worker will ask you about your previous marriage(s), but the agency s main concern is the stability of your current marriage. If someone has gone through multiple marriages because he/she is unstable, this instability will probably manifest itself in other areas of the person s life as well. You are in therapy. If either one of you has been in therapy individually, or if you have had therapy as a couple, your chances of being approved are probably not lessened. In fact, most agency personnel view counseling as a sign of strength. The reasons you give for your counseling are what matter. For example, counseling to deal with issues related to infertility, communication, or problems with family of origin are all considered very normal. You have a history of drug or alcohol abuse. If you used illicit drugs in the past, do not have a record, and no longer use them, the drug use is not necessarily an issue. If you have been treated for abusing drugs or alcohol, however, you will need to tell the home study provider. Usually this information will not disqualify you, but the agency will want evidence from a treatment counselor that you have resolved this problem and that the risk that you will become a substance abuser again is minimal. Most agencies will require a letter stating that you are no longer addicted to drugs and alcohol and that you are doing well. Some agencies may want more information: why you entered treatment, what the course of treatment was, and whether you followed the treatment plan. You have a history of psychological problems. If you have been treated for a psychological disorder such as depression or anxiety and it has not been a life-dominating problem, then this need not be an issue, but does have to be reported. However, if the problem interferes with your life (say, you are not able to work), then this will need to be discussed even further. The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits an adoption agency from disqualifying you from adopting based on a diagnosis alone; however, if you are currently experiencing problems that would interfere with your parenting skills and the safety of a child, then this could prevent you from obtaining an approved home study. If you have psychological issues in your past that have not been treated or addressed, then you may be required to have a licensed mental health professional complete a psychological evaluation during the home study process to assess your current mental state and functioning. You have taken or are taking psychotrophic medication. Taking such medication cannot disqualify you from adopting. However, some countries will not allow persons taking certain medications or having certain medical

8 Revised conditions to adopt. Many other countries do not place these restrictions on applicants. We can talk with you about this and help you evaluate your individual situation. You have a criminal history. A criminal history will not automatically disqualify you, but you must disclose any criminal history that you have. Failure to do so can result in your being automatically disapproved. You will need to obtain, for your home study provider, a signed and certified disposition from the courthouse in the county in which you were charged for each of the incidents. This includes acts that have been expunged from your record. You will also need to provide a letter explaining why you were charged with each crime and include a statement of remorse, if appropriate. This letter must be signed by you, under penalty of perjury, and notarized. Please talk with your social worker about these documents, if you need further explanation. Both of these documents must be submitted to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. You have a chronic health condition. People with physical disabilities should not be disqualified from adopting, as long as they can care for a child. Neither should a chronic disease like diabetes disqualify someone, provided it is controlled. Even a history of cancer will not disqualify you from adopting, as long as you have close to a normal life expectancy. The purpose of the medical report for the home study is to determine that the parent is expected to have a normal life span and is physically/emotionally/mentally able to care for a child. You come from a dysfunctional family. If you have come from an extremely dysfunctional family and have dealt with the issues appropriately and if other facets of your life are in order then a social worker will minimize your family s past and will focus on your current life now. If you were physically or emotionally abused as a child and recognize that such behavior is inappropriate, and if you can explain reasonable measures for disciplining a child, then a social worker will simply state this in your report. Financial difficulties and other problems. If you have had financial difficulties such as bankruptcy, these problems do not necessarily keep you from adopting. Again, any concerns that you have, please discuss with us. During the home study process, we will ask you if you have had counseling in the past or present, or if you have taken or are taking medication to treat any emotional issues. We believe that both counseling and appropriate medication can be very helpful in dealing with life stressors that become overwhelming. Our role is not to judge you we want to understand your background so we can ensure that all families are able to physically and emotionally care for a child, and so that we can do our part to make your adoption a successful one. If your background has had some bumps, but you are a solid family that can provide a child with a good family life, we may recommend that you receive counseling. This can benefit everyone, and it can provide an opportunity to present you in the best possible way. Can AHH do a home study for an embryo adoption? Yes, we can conduct a home study for an adoption embryo adoption. The purpose of the embryo adoption home study is to prepare the adoptive parents to be the best parents they can possibly be to their new child, and to provide a summary of the adoptive family s information to the agency or organization that is responsible for placing the embryos with the parent. It is not intended to assess the suitability of the child's placement once born. Therefore, no post-placement reports will be required unless the embryo adoption agency requires one. Also, because you will give birth to the child, no legal court proceedings take place and all legal responsibilities of the agency will end once the home study is completed. In the course of the home study process, you will be required to complete education regarding embryo adoption so that as the parent, you can understand the issues involved in giving birth to a child who is not biologically related to you. Such education is provided through your social worker at AHH, and additional education is available at How do I apply with US Citizenship and Immigration Services to obtain approval? Everyone who adopts internationally must be approved by US Citizenship and Immigration Services. If you are adopting from a non-hague country, you will submit an I-600A for this process. If you are adopting from a Hague country, you will use form I-800A. Below are instructions for these forms: I-600A and I-800 A Forms To begin the process, complete either an I-600A (for non-hague country adoptions) or an I-800A (for Hague-country adoptions) (forms and instructions may be obtained and downloaded at and mailed to the USCIS Lockbox:

9 Revised Form I-800A (for a Hague Country) must be mailed to USCIS Dallas Lockbox facility address as follows: If regular mail (USPS): USCIS P.O. Box Dallas, TX If courier express service: USCIS Attn: Hague 2501S. South State Highway 121 Business Suite 400 Lewisville, TX Form I-600A (for a Non-Hague Country) must be mailed to USCIS Dallas Lockbox facility address as follows: If regular mail (USPS): USCIS PO Box Dallas, TX If courier express service: USCIS Attn: Adoption 2501 South State Highway 121 Business Suite 400 Lewisville, TX When submitting your I-600A or I-800A application and the applicable fees to USCIS, you must also include your original home study, a copy of the agency s license and photocopies of the following documents: Birth certificate for each petitioner (husband and wife) as well as for any other members of the household Marriage certificate for the petitioners Adoption decrees for any adopted children (if applicable) Divorce decree(s) for either or both petitioners (if applicable) Death certificate(s) (if widowed) Court disposition for any crimes or misdemeanors committed by either petitioner or adults living in the home, along with the applicant s letter of remorse signed under penalty of perjury and notarized Mailing the forms: Once you mail the I-600A or the I-800A form to USCIS, it will be forwarded to the National Benefits Center (NBC). The NBC will review the form and your home study and then issue you a fingerprinting appointment for the Louisville, KY or Nashville, TN USCIS office. If you need to reschedule your fingerprinting appointment, you must contact USCIS at the number below. Fingerprinting services are not available at just any KY USCIS office. You will be assigned to an office for your fingerprint appointment based on your residential zip code. Special note Since these forms are processed at a national level, it can take about 82 days for the approval to be issued. All questions regarding your I-600 A or I-800A application and processing can be directed to the National Benefits Center at:

10 Revised How do I track my file with NBC/Immigration? If you would like to track your file and receive updated information as to the status of your application and approval, you can file Immigration form G Go to to print out the form and mail it in with your I-600A or I-800A application form. What is the fee for a home study? In this booklet you will find a list of fees for various kinds of home study services. You will also find a list of home study fees in the home study fee agreement. Find the fee schedule in the agreement that matches your adoption plans, sign it, and return it with your home study application. If you have already applied to adopt a child through one of AHH s programs and been accepted, then you will not need to submit a home study application. The home study application is intended for clients who are completing only a home study with AHH. Along with your home study application and signed fee schedule/agreement, you must also send payment for the total home study cost and post-placement/post-adoption cost before you begin working with a social worker on the home study process. A social worker will not be able to set up an appointment to meet with you until you have paid for the home study services and post-placement/post-adoption services. If information on your initial application indicates that you do not qualify for an approved home study, all monies, except the $100 home study application fee, will be refunded to you. We charge a rate of.50 cents/mile for home study and post-placement visits, calculated from your social worker s home. What is the fee for post-placement/post-adoption reports? In this booklet, you will find an agreement for post-placement services. The fees for post-placement/post-adoption are due after your application for the home study has been approved. The fees for post-placement/post-adoption are held in trust and are paid to AHH upon completion of each post-placement report. If you move out of state, then the funds can be transferred to another adoption agency for them to complete the post-placement report(s). How long does a home study take to complete? A typical home study will be completed in 8-10 weeks. (This is the time from when AHH receives a family's initial documents and home study fee to when the final home study is approved and released to the family to submit to Immigration for international home studies.) Of course, this timeframe assumes that a family submits all supporting documents promptly, that they are able to schedule the necessary home study visits in a timely manner, and that there are no significant counseling or criminal issues that must be resolved before a recommendation for adoption can be made by AHH. (Because some countries, such as China, require there to be more than two home study visits, the process for these countries could take a little longer than the 8-10 weeks average.) A home study is not considered complete until it has been approved by the home study social worker s supervisor, the family reviews it, authorizes any necessary changes, and signs a statement that they agree to all the facts in the home study. What is the fee for expedited service? Home studies can be expedited for an additional fee of $300. An expedited home study will typically be completed in 3 weeks. (This is from the time AHH receives a family's initial documents and home study fee to the time AHH finalizes the home study.) This timeframe assumes timely return of all clearances, in addition to all the other factors mentioned above. What is the fee for an update or addendum? If AHH conducted a home study for you within the last 2 years, and you are now in need of a home study update, your home study will be half the current cost of the original home study report. If you are moving into Kentucky with a completed home study, a full new home study must be completed by AHH in order to comply with Kentucky requirements. If AHH has conducted your home study and the home study requires an additional home visit and addendum to reflect changes in your situation, the visit and addendum will cost $300. If the addendum does not require a home visit, the fee will be $100. Any changes to the home study after the report is issued whether the change is requested by the family or by the family's adoption agency is considered an addendum and will be invoiced to the family. What is the fee to change a domestic homestudy into an international one (or vice-versa)? You will be charged $1,000 to change a domestic home study to an international home study. Also, there are additional charges associated with the international homestudy report, such as clearances for Hague home studies, and any extra post-placement visits. For an international homestudy to be changed into a domestic homestudy, the fee is $500.

11 Revised Checklist of Documents Required for Your Homestudy We recommend that you send your documents to AHH as you complete them. You should not wait until you have all of the documents completed and then submit them all at the same time. Sending in the first set of documents with the application, as described below, will allow AHH to get your home study started more quickly than if you wait and send everything in at one time. You will not be able to begin the home study process with your social worker until the first group of documents and fees (for application, home study report, and post-placements) have been received in our office. For an international home study, all time-sensitive supporting documents must be less than 12 months old when they arrive at Citizenship and Immigration Services. For a domestic home study, all supporting documents must be under 12 months old when you receive placement of a child. Send in the following documents when submitting your home study application: Application and $100 application fee(if applicable): The application must be sent in and approved before the first home study visit. Please be certain that the following documents are included with your application: Additional Background form, All Applicants form and International Adoption/Home Study Applicants form. (If you are adopting through AHH and have already submitted an adoption application to our agency, you do not have to complete a 2 nd application for the home study, or pay an additional application fee. Also, if you are a previous client of ours who completed an adoption with us in the past 2 years, your application fee will be waived.) Home study Agreement: (form) Sign as your agreement to read this booklet in its entirety. Home study Fee Schedule/Agreement and Post-Placement Fee Agreement: (forms) Find the fee schedule/agreement for the adoption program you ve chosen, and return it (signed) with your Post-Placement Fee Agreement (signed), and your fee payment for both services. Parent Education Requirements Agreement KY: (form either International or Domestic) Residential History Forms (for each applicant, including all addresses since age 18 for Hague; all addresses for the past 10 years for Non-Hague and Domestic.) Autobiography: One for each applicant - Instructions provided. A copy of your most recent 1040 tax form (the first 2 main pages showing income). Child Abuse and Neglect Registry Check Request forms: Submit one form for each person living in the home who is 12 years of age or older; your signature must be witnessed (notarization is not required), and the form must be signed by an AHH representative. If you lived in any other state or country since the age of 18, please submit a separate request to each state. Please let us know which states, and we will provide you with information on how to obtain the child abuse registry clearances in those states. (Find directions for this on the enclosed Background Clearances Instruction sheet.) Confidential Disclosure Statement: (form) Complete and sign. Duty to Disclose/Candor Statement: (form) Read, initial, and sign. Disclosure of Previous Home study: (form) Complete and sign. Complete the following background checks as soon as possible. (Your social worker will be able to assist you with the completion of these forms, if needed.): FBI background checks must be completed for each adult, age 18 and older, living in the home. The instructions for being fingerprinted are among the enclosed attachments. As the instructions will indicate, your fingerprints will be sent directly to the FBI and not to AHH. Administrative Office of the Courts forms: Submit one completed form for each person living in the home who is 18 years of age or older. Each form requires a $20.00 fee with checks made payable to Kentucky State Treasurer and can be mailed to the address at the top of the form. NOTE: This form may also be completed and submitted online please find the directions for this on the Background Clearances page of this booklet. Complete the following as soon as possible and mail to AHH s office: Certificate of Property and Finances: Complete and sign. (Your social worker can assist you with this form, if needed.) Please be sure that the financial information on this form does not vary greatly from the financial information you included on your initial application. You will need to have a positive net worth. Parent Reading Certificate: Complete and sign once reading requirements have been completed. Parent Discussion Form: Complete, sign, and return.

12 Revised Special Needs Assessment Questionnaire: Complete, sign, and return. (if applying for Special Needs Adoption). Special Needs Parent Education Requirements: Complete, sign, and return (if applying for Special Needs Adoption). Copy of Birth certificate for each person living in the home (a copy must also accompany your home study and Immigration application upon submission to USCIS). Copy of Naturalization or Residency Document/Adoption decrees for each household member not born in the U.S Copy of Marriage certificate Copy of All divorce decrees and/or death certificates of former or deceased spouse(s) (if applicable) Health Insurance Verification Form: Complete, sign, and return. Copy of proof of Auto Insurance (Domestic only) Guardianship Verification Form: complete and sign Employer Verification Letters: completed by your employer. (Letter of non-employment if unemployed.) Copy of your most recent statement from mortgage account, checking accounts, and savings account. A clear copy of the front side of driver s licenses: for each person residing in the home. Reference Letter Guidelines and Instructions: Ask three couples (or individuals, but couples preferred) who know both of you, but are not related to either of you, to write a reference letter addressing these topics for both of you as individuals and addressing you jointly as a couple: how they know you, for how long, attributes that would make you good adoptive parents, strengths of your marriage and parenting skills, your moral character, your financial stability, and anything else they think is relevant. Your references may not be chosen from among your relatives. Each letter must include the date and have an original signature; letters from couples should be signed by both the husband and the wife. Each letter must include the reference s complete address and phone number. AHH must have the original of each letter. Letters should be typed and mailed directly to AHH. For China clients only: China requires that you now submit your reference letters with your home study report to China. Please check with your placing agency on their guidelines for attaching these letters as each agency handles it differently. If you have a child over the age of 18 years, they will also need to write a reference letter. The letter written by your adult child should touch on the following subjects: relation with parents, merits or shortcomings of parenting, discipline manners, reasons to believe his/her parents are/aren t suitable to adopt a child, etc. Also, if you have school-aged children, China requires that you obtain a reference letter from a teacher. If your children are home schooled, China is requiring a letter from the organizer of the home school community, or a letter from a Sunday school teacher. A Physical Examination report for each person (adults and children) living in the home, based on an examination made within the last 6 months, covering the following areas: mental and physical health, lack of communicable diseases, life expectancy, up-to-date on immunization schedules (for children), and (for adults) capability of parenting an adopted child; take the Physical Examination Form/Child Medical Certificate with you to the physician to be completed, signed and dated. This form only needs to be notarized if you are a China client. Certified copy of the Court disposition(s) and letter(s) of explanation/remorse (if applicable): These are required for any adult in the home who has been arrested or charged with a crime. These documents are required even if there was no conviction. You will need to talk with your social worker or someone at our office for additional explanation before preparing or acquiring these documents, as the remorse letter must be signed under Penalty of Perjury and notarized, and the copy of the Court s final disposition must be a certified copy. Both documents must accompany the home study and Immigration application upon submission to US CIS. Copy of Pet Vaccination Records: (Most recent records only) to verify your pet(s) are up-to-date on the rabies vaccination. Psychological evaluation (if applicable) The following document will be completed with you by the Social Worker during a home study visit: Home study Housing Checklist: Home safety assessment completed by the social worker. The last step in your homestudy process: Agreement about Homestudy Facts: Read your homestudy report to check for any accidental errors. Request any necessary changes. Complete this form to show that you have read and accepted your home study, and sign the form. This statement will be included in the home study as a supporting document, and the homestudy will not be released or considered finalized until this statement has been completed, signed and submitted.

13 Revised A Helping Hand adoption agency a nightlight affiliate...because every child deserves a loving family Domestic International Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Adoption Home studies Hague Accredited Address: ADOPTIVE PARENT APPLICATION Last Name of Adoptive Parent(s): Commonly used First Name(s): City: State: Zip: County Mailing Address (if different from above): Contact Numbers (Please indicate with *, which # is best to reach you from 8-5 (your time zone), & indicate where detailed messages can be left.): Home: ( ) Fax : ( ) Male Applicant s Work: ( ) Cell: ( ) Female Applicant s Work: ( ) Cell: ( ) Main: Alternate: Emergency Contacts: (Please note: We will contact persons at any time during or after adoption if we need to reach you.) Name: Phone: Address: Name: Phone: Address: Relationship: Relationship: Date of marriage: City and State of marriage: *Refer to Eligibility Requirements in the program booklet you are applying for to find AHH's policies regarding marriage. Do you (or your spouse) have any children? Yes No If yes, how many? # Name M/F D.O.B. Biological/Adopted Resides (w/ us, other parent, etc.) Do any other adults live in your home? Yes No (i.e. parents, housekeepers, guests) Name M/F DOB Relationship to you How did you hear about our adoption programs? OFFICE USE ONLY Supervised Exempt Agrmnt Sent Agrmnt Rec d

14 Revised ADOPTIVE FATHER S INFORMATION Full Legal Name: Date of Birth: Age: Social Security #: Place of Birth: (city, state, country) Driver s License Number: State of Issue: Passport Number: Expiration Date: Are you a United States Citizen? YES / NO If no, where is your citizenship? Ancestry: (i.e. German, Irish, English, etc.) Education: Occupation: Employer: Salary Last Calendar Year (per IRS Form 1040): Current Annual Salary: Hobbies/Interests: Church Affiliation: Comments or Statement of Faith: Active? YES / NO PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Height: Weight: BMI: Eye Color: Hair Color: List all significant health history and current health status, including medications taken (attach sheet if necessary): For China Applicants: Calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI) using the following formula: weight (lb) / [height (in)] 2 x 703. If the quotient is equal or greater than 40, please comment on a separate sheet of paper how your weight affects your blood pressure, cholesterol, mobility or other aspects of daily living. BMI Calculator can also be found online at Parent s Names: Address: FAMILY INFORMATION: Marriage Intact? YES / NO Phone: ( ) Do you have any prior marriages? YES / NO If yes, how many? # (For each prior marriage, please list the name of spouse, the date of marriage and the date of divorce [month/year]) Have you ever failed to meet your child or spousal support obligation? YES / NO / NA Has any child ever been removed from your care due to abuse or neglect? YES / NO Have you ever been deprived of parental rights or had your rights restricted? YES / NO Have you ever been arrested? YES / NO (Include all arrests, even where charges were dismissed, never filed, or the record was later expunged. Even if an attorney or judge told you that you do not have to list an incident, you must disclose the incident to our office. Please explain in detail on a separate sheet of paper and attach it to this application.) Have you ever filed bankruptcy? YES / NO (If yes, please explain on a separate sheet of paper and attach.)

15 Revised ADOPTIVE MOTHER S INFORMATION Full Legal Name: Maiden: Date of Birth: Age: Social Security #: Place of Birth: (city, state, country) Driver s License Number: State of Issue: Passport Number: Expiration Date: Are you a United States Citizen? YES / NO If no, where is your citizenship? Ancestry: (i.e. German, Irish, English, etc.) Education: Occupation: Employer: Salary Last Calendar Year (per IRS Form 1040): Current Annual Salary: Work Objective After Placement: Hobbies/Interests: Church Affiliation: Comments or Statement of Faith: Active? YES / NO PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Height: Weight: BMI: Eye Color: Hair Color: List all significant health history and current health status, including medications taken (attach sheet if necessary): For China Applicants: Calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI) using the following formula: weight (lb) / [height (in)]2 x 703. If the quotient is equal or greater than 40, please comment on a separate sheet of paper how your weight affects your blood pressure, cholesterol, mobility or other aspects of daily living. BMI Calculator can also be found online at FAMILY INFORMATION: Parent s Names: Address: Marriage Intact? YES / NO Phone: ( ) Do you have any prior marriages? YES / NO If yes, how many? # (For each prior marriage, please list the name of spouse, the date of marriage and the date of divorce [month/year]) Have you ever failed to meet your child or spousal support obligation? YES / NO / NA Has any child ever been removed from your care due to abuse or neglect? YES / NO Have you ever been deprived of parental rights or had your rights restricted? YES / NO Have you ever been arrested? YES / NO (Include all arrests, even where charges were dismissed, never filed, or the record was later expunged. Even if an attorney or judge told you that you do not have to list an incident, you must disclose the incident to our office. Please explain in detail on a separate sheet of paper and attach it to this application.) Have you ever filed bankruptcy? YES / NO (If yes, please explain on a separate sheet of paper and attach.)

16 Revised ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND: ADOPTIVE FATHER ADOPTIVE MOTHER Do you have any health problems or conditions that would interfere with parenting a child? Have you ever been charged or accused of child abuse or neglect? Have you received treatment for a mental condition? Have you ever been treated for drug or alcohol abuse? Have you ever been denied a home study? Have you ever been given an unfavorable home study? Have you ever begun a home study that was never completed? Explain: FINANCIAL ASSESSMENT: It is important that you answer each of these F questions truthfully. For adoptions from China, you must have a positive net worth in order to be accepted into the program. 1. Real Estate Value $ Remaining on mortgage $ = Home Equity $ (A) 2. Assets (i.e. savings, investments, retirement accounts, etc.) Savings Balance $ Investments Balance $ Retirement Accounts Balance $ Vehicle(s) Value Balance $ Household/Personal Balance $ Total Assets $ (B) 3. Debts (i.e. credit cards, auto, education, etc.) Auto 1 Balance $ Auto 2 Balance $ Credit Cards Balance $ Other Loan(s) Balance $ Total Debts $ (C) Total Net Worth (A) + (B) (C) = $. 1. Is life insurance in place to provide for the needs of the adopted child and family if the family breadwinner dies? Yes No If not, are you willing to secure such insurance? Yes No 2. Do you have a will in place that names a guardian for your children? Yes No If not, are you willing to execute one? Yes No Dad Mom 3. Have you been in Bankruptcy? Yes No Yes No If Yes provide date(s)

17 ALL APPLICANTS Please refer to the Getting Started Checklist in your Information Packet. Include with this Application all items indicated on the checklist, along with a recent Photograph of your entire family, the Adoption Services Agreements and your initial fees. Have you completed a prior Application for Adoption? Yes If yes, please list the Name of Agency: Date: Outcome: No Do you own or rent your home? Market Value:$ Monthly Payment: $ Amount Owed: $ Date you first lived in your home : IF YOU LIVE IN COLORADO, KENTUCKY, SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA OR SOUTH CAROLINA: Nightlight and AHH require families living within Colorado, Kentucky, South Carolina or the Southern California counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura to complete your home study through either Nightlight or A Helping Hand Adoption Agency. If you already have a home study completed, please contact our office for consideration. Have you lived in your current State of Residence for all of the last five years? If not, please list the dates and location of each state/country where you have resided. Male Applicant: Yes No Female Applicant: Yes No IF YOU LIVE OUTSIDE OF COLORADO, KENTUCKY SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA OR SOUTH CAROLINA: If yes, date of completion: ***Name of Agency: Social Worker s Name: Address: Revised Do you have a completed Home study? Yes City: State: Zip: Phone: Web site Address: Fax: No If no, projected date of completion: ***INTERNATIONAL CLIENTS: As a Hague Accredited agency, we are required to have a cooperative agreement with any agency performing a home study for our families. Please contact us in advance to verify that we have a cooperative agreement in place with your home study agency. If you do not have a home study agency, we would be happy to provide you with a list of approved agencies in your area. ***

18 INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION / HOMESTUDY APPLICANTS Country of Interest: Number of Children desired: Sex preferred: Male / Female / Either Age Range: Sibling Groups? Yes No Would you be willing to adopt a child with moderate to severe physical handicaps? Yes No If yes, please describe acceptable impairments: Please describe any situation where a child s medical, physical or emotional background would not be acceptable for your family: Any other comments regarding child(ren) desired? Approximately 78% of children born to HIV infected mothers do not have the HIV virus. Would you consider such a child if the child tested negative to HIV? Yes (Internet research may be helpful if you have questions). Have you filed an I-600A or I-800A with the CIS? Yes No No If yes, Date filed: in City, State: HOMESTUDY ONLY CLIENTS: If A Helping Hand is only performing your home study and postplacement/adoption reports, please provide the information for your placing agency below: Name of Agency: Please establish (if necessary) and provide a FedEx account number which will be used by our office Contact for shipping Person: your documents: Address: City: State: Zip: Phone: Fax: We understand that concurrent participation in more than one adoption program or pursuing infertility treatments while in the adoption process is not allowed without written acknowledgement. If you learn that we are in two concurrent programs, then we authorize you to notify the other program of our actions. We grant our permission for you to discuss all relevant information regarding our case with necessary parties, including but not limited to, our home study or placing agency, Citizenship and Immigration offices, and foreign authorities or staff members. We understand that all application and initial phase fees are non-refundable. We hereby declare that all information provided in this application is true and correct to the best of our knowledge and belief. Male Applicant Date Revised Female Applicant Date

19 Home study Agreement You may feel that you are about to go into paperwork overload to complete your home study. Because of agency, state, federal, and other country regulations, we must make sure that your home study and supporting documents are less than one year old when submitted and meet all the requirements for each entity. We strive to meet all these guidelines and laws so that your adoption, whether Domestic or International, can go as smoothly as possible. This agreement is written so you know: (1) AHH s responsibility and limitations; (2) your responsibilities. A lot of information is in this home study booklet. You agree to read the booklet in its entirety. Take a highlighter and mark that which applies specifically to you. We at AHH take education very seriously because we want you to be as well prepared as possible. You, as International client(s), agree to complete at least 10 hours of pre-adoption education. If you are adopting from China, you agree to complete at least 12 hours of preadoption education. As Domestic Clients, you agree to complete 24 hours of parent education in order to meet the Foster Parent requirements of KY. If you are seeking an expedited home study, AHH staff will work as quickly as possible. However, we can only complete this as fast as you complete your paperwork and submit required documents, such as your physicians letters. Also, although AHH staff will try to secure child abuse and criminal clearances as quickly as possible, we ultimately have no control on the speed of these matters. You agree to complete documents, parent education, and visits/meetings in a timely manner. If you are not doing so, you will receive a reminder at the six month mark. If you have not completed the home study process by the one year mark, you understand that your file will be closed and you will need to pay the home study update fee in order to reopen your file and finalize your home study. If you are seeking to adopt independently from a Hague country (without using a placing agency), AHH will not conduct your home study until you secure a Hague accredited agency or other Hague accredited entity (i.e. attorney) to conduct your adoption. AHH will also not work with families doing independent adoptions from non-hague countries. You agree right from the beginning of the home study process (from application forward) to be transparent and answer questions honestly and completely regarding any history of abuse, your marital status, divorce history, children living in and out of the home, living arrangements of husband and wife, criminal or child abuse charges (even if not guilty), financial status, pregnancy, and any other issues that are addressed. You are personally responsible for keeping track of your Immigration approval expiration dates, and agree to notify AHH at least four months prior to the expiration date to begin the update process and ensure that your approval does not expire. Later, you will complete A Duty to Disclose and Duty of Candor Statement regarding being forthcoming during the home study process, and reporting any changes once your home study is completed. However, we want to make sure that you understand the importance of being truthful and forthright from the start of the process onward. When families are candid and let us know any concerns, we usually can work with the family or advise them not to proceed forward. Rarely does AHH deny a family once they begin the home study process. By signing below you agree to the terms above and to read the entire home study booklet. Signed: Adoptive Mother Adoptive Father Revised

20 Quick Reference List of Home Study Fees A Helping Hand Adoption Agency (AHH) Following this page are fee schedules/agreements for each home study program. Find your program and return that home study fee schedule/agreement signed. Mileage is charged at rate of.50 cents per mile. Domestic and Embryo Total... $1,500 International through AHH Total... $1,600 International through another agency Total... $1,700 OTHER SERVICES Expedited pre-placement report... add $300 Addendum to current KY home study... $300 Addendum not requiring home visit... $100 Updated Domestic HS... $750 Updated Int l HS through AHH... $800 Updated Int l HS through other agency... $850 Conversion from Domestic/Embryo to Int l HS..$1,000 Conversion from Int l to Domestic/Embryo HS. $500 Post-Placement Reporting for All Clients All clients must sign a Post-Placement Fee Agreement in addition to their programspecific home study agreement. Postplacement fees depend upon the number of post-placement reports required by your adoption program. Revised

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