Home Study Requirements for Prospective Parents in Domestic Adoption - West Virginia

Date: August 2020

Who Must Be Studied

Citation: Code of State Rules § 78-2-13

All adult family members shall be included in the adoption home study.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study

Citation: Code of State Rules § 78-2-13

The study shall be conducted by the child-placing agency.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents

Citation: Code of State Rules §§ 78-2-13; 78-2-20

Adoptive parents shall be nurturing, responsible, patient, stable, flexible, mature, and healthy adults capable of meeting the individual and specific needs of children placed with them. Newly approved adoptive parents shall be no younger than age 21 and no older than age 65 unless a waiver is granted by the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources.

Adoptive parents must provide documentation of the following:

  • They are in good health, free of communicable diseases, and have had a tuberculin risk assessment or skin test.
  • They have sufficient income and financial resources to meet their financial obligations.

As a condition of approval, an agency shall require that each adoptive parent participate in a specified training curriculum. An agency shall develop and implement a written plan for the training of adoptive parents, including preplacement training and child-specific training.

Elements of a Home Study

Citation: Code of State Rules §§ 78-2-13; 78-2-15; 78-2-16

Adoptive parents shall provide the agency with the names of at least four references from persons who are not related to them. The agency must interview at least three of the references. Prior to approval, all adult household members shall undergo criminal background checks and checks of child abuse and neglect records.

The agency shall ensure that the physical facilities of an adoptive home present no health or safety hazards and that they are sufficiently clean and comfortable to ensure the well-being and respect of the family in the community. The adoptive home must comply with the same standards used to approve foster family homes.

The home study must include a minimum of one individual in-person interview for each parent and two joint interviews. The study shall describe and evaluate aspects of the home and family and shall include the following:

  • The composition of the household and intrafamily relationships
  • The family's attitudes, values, and level of understanding of child development
  • The manner in which the family handles conflict, stress, and frustration
  • Individual and family hobbies, recreation, community activities, and social life
  • Each parent's personal history, attitudes, feelings, and values
  • The parents' financial situation and motivation to adopt
  • An assessment of the adoptive parents' ability and willingness to make a lifetime commitment to the adopted child and their understanding of the legal rights of the adopted child

Grounds for Withholding Approval

Citation: Code of State Rules § 78-2-13

An agency shall not approve an adoptive home if any of the following are true:

  • The adoptive parents have health, behavior, or emotional or psychological problems that may endanger the well-being of a child.
  • Not all references for the foster and adoptive parents are positive in nature.
  • Any household member has any convictions other than minor traffic violations.

When Studies Must Be Completed

Citation: Code of State Rules §§ 78-2-16; 78-2-19

A comprehensive written home study must be completed prior to placing a child in the home.

For adoptive parents who have not had a child placed with them, the agency shall evaluate them annually and complete a narrative summary that includes the following:

  • An update of each of the parents' biographies and any changes in their circumstances or attitudes about adoption
  • A recommendation for any changes in the adoptive parents' conditions of approval

Postplacement Study Requirements

Citation: Code of State Rules § 78-2-23

Following placement of a child in an adoptive home, the agency shall provide support services, including the following:

  • An initial telephone contact within 72 hours of placement and an initial visit within 1 week of placement
  • A minimum of six visits during the placement, at least four of which are in the home of the adoptive parents

In a two-parent family, both parents must be involved in at least three visits. Additional visits may be made on a frequency determined by the needs of the child and the adoptive parents. Visits shall include all household members, and the child shall be observed during each visit. If the child is old enough to carry on a conversation, the caseworker must conduct an interview with him or her in private during each visit.

The agency shall continue to provide support services for a minimum of 6 months or longer until permanent placement of the child is achieved. If the child is in the adoptive home as a foster care placement, the period of support services can include the time spent in the adoptive home in foster care. The agency shall provide a final visit with the adoptive family to review the adoption process prior to finalizing the adoption.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions

This issue is not addressed in the statutes and regulations reviewed.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements

Citation: Ann. Code § 49-7-101

Any out-of-home placement of a child outside the State is subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

The child shall not be sent into the receiving State until the appropriate public authorities in the receiving State notify the sending agency, in writing, that the proposed placement does not appear to be contrary to the interests of the child.

Foster to Adopt Placements

This issue is not addressed in the statutes and regulations reviewed.

Links to Resources

West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Social Services, Child Welfare Policy, Adoption

State regulations