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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

7) Home Study Report by the EFAA in Singapore

We had our Home Study Report (HSR) prepared by Touch Community Services - the only EFAA recognized by CARA in Singapore.

First we had to fill in the agency's application form, get a medical test done, get 2 or 3 referral letters from people who knew us well (we got them from friends), obtain a certificate of no criminal conviction, obtain a certificate from the Institute of Mental Health attesting that neither of us had ever sought treatment there, and submit other supporting documentation. About a month after submitting our documents, we had one scheduled office interview with the social worker assigned to perform our HSR.

The office interview (approx. 3 hrs) was structured for the first hour as a joint session with the both of us and then as separate one-on-one sessions with my wife and with myself. The home visit was performed around 2 weeks after the office interview, when the social worker came to our home and had a look around to assess the appropriateness of the home and surroundings where our adopted child would eventually reside.

Application Form / Questionnaire:

The EFAA's application forms are extremely detailed with factual as well as subjective information to fill in and basically represent what the both of you say about yourself. If you are a couple, you will fill in these forms individually. Almost everything you say here may appear in your Home Study Report.

Factual information asked for includes personal biodata, health issues (if any), family members, questions about your employment, working hours, income, assets, liabilities, insurance etc.

Subjective information is in the form of detailed questionnaires on your background, your childhood, your relationships with your parents & siblings, your life experiences, your beliefs and attitudes, your strengths and weaknesses, your motivation and preparedness to adopt, your marital relationship, your impressions of the strengths and weaknesses of your spouse, your conflict resolution strategies, your experience in handling children (if any), etc.

The medical test was a basic one including blood and urine reports and a simple psychological evaluation by our GP. The blood report must include testing for HIV and Hepatitis B (also known as HBsAg or Australian Antigen).

Documentation Checklist:

You will be required to submit the following documentation during your application for the Home Study Report. All documents not in English will need to be translated.

*Note*: This list is accurate as of the time we submitted our HSR application in Feb 2009 - you will of course get the most up-to-date information when you apply to Touch for your HSR.

1) Self-affidavit stating that you do not, at present, have a foreign child under your care. ---> format provided by Touch
2) Application for Adoption Home Study Report, duly completed with passport-size photographs. ---> format provided by Touch
3) Personal History of male applicant, duly completed ---> format provided by Touch
4) Personal History of female applicant, duly completed ---> format provided by Touch
5) Service Agreement with Touch Community Services, duly signed
6) A family photograph (couple wishing to adopt + any existing children)
7) Copies of passports, NRICs, Employment Passes or Dependent Passes
8) Copies of Birth Certificates, Marriage Certificates, Divorce Decrees, Death Certificates and all Children's Birth Certificates, as applicable
9) Copies of Highest Educational Certificates
10) Recent letter from employer stating your occupation, duration of employment and income. If you are self-employed, then a self-afffidavit stating the same
11) Copies of your most recent Income Tax Assessment forms, CPF Statements and Bank Statements
12) Copies of any documents showing investments in equity / mutual funds etc.
13) Copies of title deeds, mortgage statements showing investment / ownership of property.
14) Medical examination report performed within the last 6 months ---> format provided by Touch
15) If you have a major illness, a detailed medical report stating prognosis, medication, effects of the same and impact (if any) of the condition on your suitability as an adoptive parent.
16) Certificate of No Criminal Conviction for both parents ---> obtainable from the Criminal Records Office, Criminal Investigation Department, Police Cantonment Complex, Outram Park
17) Reference Letters --> Touch will contact your specified referees (at least 2) directly and request them to provide free-form reference letters covering certain points.

*Note*: You do not need to provide infertility certificates, any other proof of your inability to conceive biologically, or any other proof of efforts to conceive through fertility treatments, IVF, ICSI etc. Under Indian law, couples may apply to adopt regardless of whether they have biological children or not, regardless of their ability to conceive biologically or not.

Office Interview:

    At the office interview, we were asked about several of the things we had already filled in in our forms, but in more detail - your childhood, your relationships with your parents, siblings, grandparents; your marital relationship; your motivations and reasons to adopt; your own assessment of your suitability as parents; your attitudes towards disciplining children - e.g. do you approve of corporal punishment?, your attitudes towards adoption - e.g. will you reveal to your child that he is adopted, if so, at what age etc.

    We were asked about our jobs, how often we travelled, what we did for leisure (both as individuals and as a couple) etc.

    We were not asked intimate questions - e.g. sex life, infertility etc., but your experience may differ.

    Again almost everything you say in response to the social worker's questions may appear in your final HSR. It helps to be honest, frank and sincere throughout the process, while always maintaining a positive attitude to everything. Our social worker was friendly and immediately put us at ease by sharing her experiences and insights with us even as she conducted our interview.

      Home Visit:
      Your social worker will appraise your home for general cleanliness, hygiene and safety. E.g. if you live in a high-rise, do you have window grilles? Where will your child sleep? If you have pets, how do you handle safety/hygiene? She will also make notes about your immediate neighbourhood for cleanliness, facilities, safety.

      Home Study Report:

      We were issued with our completed Home Study Report in little over a week after the home visit. The HSR is valid for a period of 2 years and needs to be in your hands before any RIPA in India will take you seriously.

      The last paragraph of the HSR summarizes your suitability and preparedness to be adoptive parents as assessed by your social worker, and serves as a recommendation from your EFAA. Unless there are serious reasons to warrant concern, you can generally expect a favourable recommendation.

      Armed with our HSR, we set about creating our adoption dossier and planning our visit to India.

      What a typical Home Study Report (HSR) looks like

      *Note*: While submitting our final dossier, we were asked to provide a document called the Suitability Report. After some initial uncertainty as to what this document should contain and who we should obtain this from, we eventually requested Touch to issue this on their letterhead. See 'Suitability Report' under the section titled 'Documentation Samples' for further information.

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