So you’ve decided to adopt from Russia and you’ve picked an agency with NGO status and pending accreditation to work with. Now, it’s on to the homestudy.
A homestudy is a document required in every adoption, international and domestic. It is, at its most basic, a biography of your adoption journey. Some of the “chapters” will focus on the information required by the state in which you live; others will be written to answer Russian authorities’ concerns.
I can’t cover the requirements for all 50 states here, but I’ll give you two examples of what might lie ahead. In California, where one of my sisters lives, there’s a rule that adoptive parents with backyard pools must have training in Red Cross lifesaving techniques. In New Jersey, you’d need to declare that you will not use corporal punishment.
Some states require just two visits for a homestudy, some require three. At least one of those sessions must have every member of the household present. New Jersey mandated two in-home visits and I had to attend a group session at my agency.
Russian authorities, meanwhile, are going to want to know about your health and that of your spouse, if you are married. (There are guidelines on Russia’s official adoption Web site, which can be found in English here, though the English is somewhat quirky. The Russian-language version of the site is here).
Drug or alcohol addictions will rule you out as adoptive parents in Russia, as will active or chronic tuberculosis and psychiatric problems that have required you to be on anti-depressants. Russian adoption officials want to see that you are healthy enough to work. Russia does not have the weight rules that China is moving toward (a body mass index of 40 or less), but there are indications that the authorities want to know that you are healthy enough to be an active parent. They also seem to want to know about your family’s ethnic heritage and any family or cultural connections to Russia.
Next, a quick primer on how to answer the basic questions a social worker will ask.