Homestudy Requirements by State

Before an adoption or foster care arrangement can take place, there are specific qualifications that must be met by the potential adoptive parents or foster parents. Eligibility is determined by an evaluation called a home study that verifies that the adoptive or foster parent is mentally sound, financially, stable, healthy, and prepared to have a child in their home. To help you understand more about what might be asked of you during the home study process, we’ve provided a list of requirements for a home study according to each state, courtesy of Child Welfare Information Gateway.

 

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Homestudy Requirements by State

Alabama

Who Must Be Studied for adoption in Alabama

Citation: Ann. Code § 26-10A-19(a)

A preplacement investigation shall be made to determine the suitability of each petitioner and the home in which the child to be adopted will be placed.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for adoption in Alabama

Citation: Ann. Code § 26-10A-19

A preplacement investigation or a postplacement investigation must be performed by one of the following:

            • The Department of Human Resources

            • A licensed child-placing agency

            • An individual or agency licensed by the department to perform investigations

            • A licensed social worker

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for adoption in Alabama

Citation: Admin. Code R. 660-5-22-.03(6)

General requirements for applicants include:

·       Both husband and wife must be at least age 19.

·      Applications may be accepted from single persons.

·      Married applicants must have been married at least 3 years.

·      Applicants and members of their household age 19 and older are required to be fingerprinted and have criminal records checks.

·      The family should have sufficient income and savings to meet its needs and provide for the child or children without difficulty.

·      Medical reports indicating that all family members are in good health are required.

·      The department must have assurance that the adoptive parents are willing to provide medical treatment to children as recommended by a licensed physician.

·      Applications may be accepted from persons of any religious faith.

·      Applications may be accepted from persons who currently live in Alabama and who expect to remain in Alabama long enough to complete the application process.

·      Either the prospective father or mother must be a U.S. citizen.

·      Race or national origin will not be used as a single or exclusive criterion.

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Alabama

Citation: Ann. Code § 26-10A-19; Admin. Code R. 660-5-22-.03(7)

The investigation shall include a criminal background investigation and any other circumstances that might be relevant to the placement of an adopted child with the petitioners. The investigation of the adoptive parents must include:

·      The suitability of each petitioner, and his, her, or their home for the child

·      Any orders, judgments, or decrees affecting the child or any children of the petitioner

·      Criminal background investigations

·      The costs and expenses connected with the adoption

·      Any other circumstances that may be relevant to the placement of the child with the petitioners

In regulation: The home study will consist of the following elements:

·      At least one home visit as well as individual interviews with the applicant(s)

·      Information on the adoptive couple or person, including reasons for adopting and family background

·      Interviews with at least two references after it is reasonably certain that the applicant(s) will be recommended for approval

·      A diagnostic evaluation including a recommendation of the type of child as well as future plans for the applicant(s)

·      Completion of adoption training as outlined in regulation

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Alabama

Citation: Admin. Code r. 660-5-22-.03

No home can be approved in which any adult who lives in the household has been convicted at any time of:

·      A sex-related crime

·      Serious intentional, reckless, or negligent physical injury, danger, or death of any person

·       A crime against a child

·      A crime involving major intrusion upon property or use of a weapon to secure property

·      Arson

·      The manufacture, sale, distribution, use, or possession of controlled substances or alcohol

Exceptions can be made for some convictions that have occurred in the past when there is credible documentation of rehabilitation. No exception will be granted when there is a criminal conviction involving a sex-related crime against a child or serious intentional reckless or negligent physical injury or death of a child.

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Alabama

Citation: Admin. Code R. 660-5-22-.04

A child may not be placed in a prospective adoptive home prior to completion of a preplacement investigation of the petitioners and their home. The preplacement investigation must have been completed within 24 months of the placement of the child.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Alabama

Citation: Ann. Code § 26-10A-19

In every adoption proceeding, after a child has been placed in the home, a postplacement investigation must be conducted as soon as possible after notice of the placement but within 45 days after the placement.

In the investigation, an investigator must observe the adopted child and interview the petitioner in their home to verify all allegations of the petition. The report shall include sufficient facts for the court to determine whether there has been compliance with consent or relinquishment provisions and all of the information enumerated above that was not obtained in the preplacement investigation.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Alabama

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 26-10A-27; 26-10A-28

Unless otherwise directed by the court, no investigation shall be required when a person seeks to adopt his or her spouse’s child.

Unless otherwise directed by the court, no investigation is required when a grandfather, grandmother, great-grandfather, great-grandmother, great-uncle, great-aunt, brother, half-brother, sister, half-sister, aunt, or uncle of the first degree and their respective spouses seek to adopt a minor grandchild, brother, half-brother, sister, half-sister, nephew, niece, greatgrandchild, great niece, great nephew.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Alabama

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 26-10A-35; 38-7-15

The person or agency bringing the child into the State to be adopted must first obtain the consent of the department.

The department is authorized to designate an agency in the other State to interview the child’s parent(s) to obtain social, background, and medical information about the child.

The department shall be authorized to make a thorough investigation of the proposed parents and their home to determine whether they are financially able, physically able, and morally fit to have care, supervision, training, and control of the child.

If the child, subsequent to being brought into the State, becomes dependent, neglected, or delinquent prior to his or her adoption or becoming of legal age of majority, the child shall be subject to the laws of Alabama as if he or she were a resident child of the State.

Foster to Adopt Placements for Adoption in Alabama

Citation: Admin. Code R. 660-5-22-.03(10)(b), (11)

The decision whether the foster home will be approved as the child’s adoptive home will be a decision of the department based upon the following factors:

·      The child’s attachment to the foster parents

·      The length of time the child has been in the home

·      The age of the child in relation to age of foster parents

·      The health and income of the foster parents

·      Involvement/interference from the birth family

·      The appropriateness of the foster home placement

The approved adoptive family must be issued a foster home approval for the particular child to be placed unless the resource is already an approved foster home.

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Alaska

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Alaska

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 7, § 56.660

An agency shall conduct a home study for all applicants in the family being considered as an adoptive home.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in Alaska

Citation: Alaska Stat. § 25.23.100

The investigation of the petitioner shall be made by the Department of Health and Social Services or any other qualified agency or person designated by the court.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Alaska

Citation: Alaska Stat. § 25.23.020; Admin. Code Tit. 7, § 56.650

Any husband and wife together or unmarried adult may adopt a child.

In regulation: The application for adoption must include evidence that the applicant has completed any orientation or training required by the agency.

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Alaska

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 7, § 56.660

The home study must include at least the following:

·      One face-to-face interview with all individuals living in the home

·      One onsite home visit

·      An assessment of the capabilities, willingness, and readiness of the prospective adoptive parent to properly parent a child not born to the parent

·      A State and Federal criminal history record check for each adult member of the household

·      At least three positive written references on the applicant, at least two of which are from persons unrelated to the applicant

The agency shall obtain all available information about each adoptive applicant regarding the following:

·      Motivation and level of preparedness for adoption

·      Current residence and the suitability of the family to provide a safe and healthy living environment for a child

·      Physical, mental, and emotional health status of all persons living in the home

·      The quality of marital and family relationships

·      The attitude of the extended family and friends regarding adoption

·      The applicant’s feelings about his or her childhood and parents, including any history of abuse or neglect

·      Values, feelings, and practices in regard to parenting, child discipline, and care

·      Sensitivity to different socioeconomic, cultural, and ethnic groups in relation to the family’s ability to properly parent an adoptive child and to maintain the cultural or ethnic identity of the child

·      Behavior, background, special needs status, or other characteristics of a potential adoptive child that the family can and cannot accept and why, and a discussion of the prospective adoptive parent(s)’ preparation, willingness, and ability to provide proper care for such a child

·      Financial status and ability to support a child, including income, financial resources, debts, expenses, employment history, insurance coverage, and the family’s ability to address possible ongoing needs of the child

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Alaska

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 7, §§ 56.660; 56.210

Except when placing a child under emergency conditions, an adoption home may not be approved if a person in the home has a disqualification described below. In an emergency placement, an agency shall complete required clearances on persons in the home as soon as possible following the placement. However, the agency shall review the Alaska Sexual

Offender Registry before placement of a child and a check of local court records before placement or on the first day that the court is open following the placement of a child.

A person may not be approved as an adoptive parent if:

·      The person has record of having committed a barrier crime.

·      The person’s name appears on the central registry.

·      The person has a physical or behavioral health problem that poses a significant risk to the health, safety, or wellbeing of children.

·      The person was the subject of prior adverse licensing action.

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Alaska

Citation: Alaska Stat. § 25.23.100; Admin. Code Tit. 7, § 56.660

A written report of the investigation shall be filed with the court by the investigator before the petition is heard as long as the report is filed within 30 days of the designation by the court of the department, agency, or person to make the investigation.

In regulation: If a child has not been placed with the adoptive applicants within 1 year of the time the home study is completed, the home study must be made up-to-date within the 30-day period before a child is placed in the home. The written update must include:

·      A review and any required updating of each category of information in the adoptive home study

·      Documentation of at least one additional visit within the past 6 months to the home when all individuals living in the home were present

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Alaska

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 7, § 56.620

During the postplacement period, the agency shall document any changes in the adoptive family in health, financial condition, or composition that may affect the child.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions in Alaska

Citation: Alaska Stat. § 25.23.100

Unless directed by the court, an investigation and report is not required in cases in which a stepparent is the petitioner or the adopted child is within the fourth degree of lineal or collateral consanguinity to the petitioner.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Alaska

Citation: Alaska Stat. § 47.70.010

Placement of children in or from another State for possible adoption are subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

Foster to Adopt Placements for Adoption in Alaska

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

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American Samoa

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in American Samoa

Citation: A.S. Code § 45.0420

The petitioner for adoption must be studied to determine his or her suitability to parent the child.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in American Samoa

Citation: A.S. Code § 45.0421

A study and written report may be completed by the Department of Health, a child-placing agency, or the Probation Department of the court.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in American Samoa

Citation: A.S. Code § 45.0411

Any person age 21 or older may petition the court to adopt a child. A minor, upon approval of the court, may petition to adopt a child.

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in American Samoa

Citation: A.S. Code §§ 45.0414; 45.0422

The study and report shall assess the following:

·      The physical and mental health, emotional stability, and moral integrity of the petitioner

·      The ability of the petitioner to promote the welfare of the child

·      The petitioner’s moral character

·      The petitioner’s ability to support and educate the child

·      The suitability of the adoptive home

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in American Samoa

Citation: A.S. Code §§ 45.0414; 45.0422

The court may dismiss the adoption petition if it is not satisfied as to the character and suitability of the petitioner or there is reason to believe the person’s physical condition would make the person unable to take care of the child.

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in American Samoa

Citation: A.S. Code §§ 45.0414; 45.0421

In placements by the Department of Health or child-placing agencies, the report of the study shall be filed with the consent to adoption. If a petition is not accompanied by the written consent and report, the court shall order an investigation and report.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in American Samoa

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in American Samoa

Citation: A.S. Code § 45.0421

The requirement for an investigation and written report does not apply to stepparent adoptions and those cases in which placement for adoption has been made by the court, by an individual in whom guardianship of the person of the child has been placed by the court, or in accordance with the law of another State or territory.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in American Samoa

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Foster to Adopt Placements for Adoption in American Samoa

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

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Arizona

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Arizona

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 8-105

The prospective adoptive parents and any adult members of the adoptive parents’ household must be included in the study.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in Arizona

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 8-105

The study and report are completed by the division or agency, or a person or agency designated by the court.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Arizona

Citation: Admin. Code § R6-5-6603

Prior to accepting a certification application from a person contemplating adoption of a child, or an application for placement from a person who intends to seek a placement through the entity, an adoption entity shall provide the person with adoption orientation.

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Arizona

Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 8-105; 8-112

The application for certification shall include a financial statement and a physician’s statement of the applicant’s physical health. An investigation of the prospective adoptive parents shall be conducted to determine whether they are fit and proper persons to adopt children.

The prospective adoptive parent and each adult member of the household must certify whether that person is awaiting trial on or has ever been convicted of any of the criminal offenses listed in § 41-1758.07(B)-(C). An officer of the court may obtain a State and Federal criminal records check.

The investigation and report to the court shall consider all relevant and material facts dealing with the prospective adoptive parents’ fitness to adopt children and shall include:

·      A complete social history

·      The financial condition of the applicant

·      The moral fitness of the applicant

·      The religious background of the applicant

·      Physical and mental health conditions of the applicant

·      Any court action for or adjudication of child abuse, abandonment of children, dependency or termination of parent-child relationship

·      All other facts bearing on the issue of the fitness of the prospective adoptive parents

A social study shall be submitted to the court 10 days before the hearing on the petition to adopt. The social study shall include the following:

·      The child’s adjustment to the adoptive parent(s)’ home

·      The prospective adoptive parent’s suitability to adopt

·      The existing and proposed arrangements regarding the child’s custody

·      State and Federal criminal records checks and a central registry records check, including any history of child welfare referrals, of the prospective adoptive parent and each adult who is living permanently with the prospective adoptive parent

·      Any other information that is pertinent to the adoption proceedings

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Arizona

Citation: Admin. Code § R6-5-6606

In determining whether to recommend certification of an applicant, the adoption entity shall consider all factors bearing on fitness to adopt, including, but not limited to:

·      The length and stability of the applicant’s marital relationship, if applicable

·      The applicant’s age and health

·      Past, significant disturbances or events in the applicant’s immediate family, such as involuntary job separation; divorce; or death of spouse, child, or parent; and history of child maltreatment

·      The applicant’s ability to financially provide for an adopted child

·      The applicant’s history of providing financial support to the applicant’s other children, including compliance with court-ordered child support obligations

The certification report shall specifically note any instances in which an applicant has:

·      Been charged with, been convicted of, pled no contest to, or is awaiting trial on charges of an offense listed in

Rev. Stat. § 46-141

·      Lost care, custody, control, or parental rights to a child as a result of a dependency action or action to terminate parental rights

If the report recommends denial of certification, the adoption entity shall send the applicant written notice of the unfavorable recommendation and an explanation of the applicant’s right to petition the court for review.

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Arizona

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 8-105

Before any prospective adoptive parent may petition to adopt a child, the person shall be certified by the court as acceptable to adopt children. A certificate shall be issued only after an investigation. The investigation and report to the court must be completed within 90 days after the application for certification has been accepted.

Within 60 days after receiving the investigation report, the court shall certify the applicant as acceptable or unacceptable to adopt children based on the investigation report and recommendations of the report. A certification remains in effect for 18 months from the date of its issuance and may be extended for additional 1-year periods if after review the court finds that there have been no material changes in circumstances that would adversely affect the acceptability of the applicant to adopt.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Arizona

Citation: Admin. Code § R6-5-6619

When a child is placed for adoption with a person who is not the child’s foster parent, a case manager from the adoption entity shall visit the home within 30 calendar days of placement to:

·      Ensure that the adoptive parent received all available nonidentifying information on the child

·      Address any questions or concerns the adoptive parent or child may have about the adoption process or placement

·      Ensure that the family has addressed the educational needs of a school-age child

·      Ensure that an adoptive parent who works has made appropriate child care arrangements

Following the initial placement visit, a case manager shall:

·      Visit the adoptive family at least once every 3 months until the adoption is finalized, except when the adoptive child is a child with special needs the visits shall occur at least once a month

·      Interview all members of the adoptive family’s household

·      Discuss the following issues with the adoptive parent if appropriate in light of the child’s age and development:

» How the presence of the child has changed familial relationships

» How the child and the extended family view each other

» The role each family member has assumed regarding child care and discipline

» How the parent is coping with the needs and demands of the placed child

» How the child challenges or tests the placement and how the family reacts to these episodes, including any feelings of insecurity about the propriety of the family members’ response

» How the family perceives the child’s sense of identity and the need to fill in gaps in the child’s history

» How the child has adjusted to the school environment

·      If developmentally appropriate, privately interview the child about the child’s feelings about the adoption and the matters listed above

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Arizona

Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 8-105; 8-112

The requirements for a certification study do not apply if:

·      The prospective adoptive parent is the spouse of the birth or legal parent of the child to be adopted or is an uncle, aunt, adult sibling, grandparent, or great-grandparent of the child by whole or half-blood, or by marriage or adoption.

·      The birth or legal parent is deceased, but at the time of death, the parent had legal and physical custody of the child to be adopted, and the child had resided primarily with the spouse of the birth or legal parent during the 24 months before the death of the parent.

·      The grandparent, great-grandparent, aunt, adult sibling, or uncle is deceased, but at the time of death that person had legal and physical custody of the child to be adopted, and the child had resided primarily with the spouse of the grandparent, great-grandparent, aunt, adult sibling, or uncle during the 24 months before the death of the grandparent, great-grandparent, aunt, adult sibling, or uncle.

The social study may consist only of the results of the State and Federal criminal records check and the central registry records check if either of the following is true:

·      The prospective adoptive parent is the child’s stepparent who has been legally married to the child’s birth or legal parent for at least 1 year, and the child has resided with the stepparent and parent for at least 1 year.

·      The prospective adoptive parent is the child’s adult sibling, by whole or half blood, or the child’s aunt, uncle, grandparent, or great-grandparent, and the child has resided with the prospective adoptive parent for at least 1 year.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Arizona

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 8-548

Placements of children for adoption in or from another State are subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

Foster to Adopt Placements for Adoption in Arizona

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 8-112; Admin. Code § R6-5-6620

If the child being considered for adoption has resided with the prospective adoptive parent for at least 6 months, and the prospective adoptive parent is a foster parent who is licensed by this State, the social study may consist only of the following:

·      The results of a central registry records check

·      A review of any material changes in circumstances that have occurred since the previous license renewal that affect the prospective adoptive parent(s)’ ability to adopt the child

In regulation: When a foster parent plans to adopt a foster child who is age 5 or older, a case worker from the adoption entity shall privately interview the child and all members of the adoptive family household who are age 5 or older about their feelings toward the adoption before the adoption consent is signed.

When a child is placed for adoption with a person who has been a foster parent to the child, a case manager from the adoption entity shall conduct home visits at least every 2 months from the time legal consent for adoption has been signed until the finalization of adoption. If the adoptive child is a child with special needs, the case manager shall visit at least once a month.

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Arkansas

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Arkansas

Citation: Rules & Regs. 016 15 CARR 005, § 300

Each member of the adoptive family shall be included in the approval process.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study

Citation: Rules & Regs. 016 15 CARR 005, § 300

The social worker or agency shall conduct the home study.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Arkansas

Citation: Rules & Regs. 016 15 CARR 005, § 300

In a two-parent home, the husband and wife shall provide verification that they have been married at least 2 years.

Each member of the adoptive household shall have a physical exam within 6 months prior to the approval by the social worker or agency conducting the home study, and annually thereafter until placement, to ensure that no person has a health condition or disability that would interfere with the family’s ability to care for a child.

All members of the household older than age 12 shall receive a Mantoux skin test for tuberculosis every 3 years, as long as test results remain negative.

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Arkansas

Citation: Rules & Regs. 016 15 CARR 005, § 300

The adoptive home study shall contain the information required by regulation, including the following:

·      The mental health, emotional stability, and maturity of the applicants

·      The physical health of all household members

·      The financial status and stability of the family, including verification of income and employment

·      At least three confidential personal references

·      The family’s ability to cope with stress, loss, and crisis

·      Adjustment and well-being of any minors residing in the home

·      The family’s child-caring skills and willingness to acquire additional skills

·      The family’s discipline practices and religious affiliation

·      An assessment of the safety of the home, including all water hazards, dangerous pets, and firearm safety

·      A statement regarding the availability and results from criminal records and child maltreatment central registry checks, dated to within 1 year prior to placement

·      The stability of the adoptive family and their marriage, if applicable

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Arkansas

Citation: Rules & Regs. 016 15 CARR 005, § 300

A minor may not be adopted if the individual seeking to adopt is cohabiting with a sexual partner outside of a marriage that is valid under the constitution and laws of this State. This prohibition applies equally to cohabiting opposite-sex and same-sex individuals.

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Arkansas

Citation: Rules & Regs. 016 15 CARR 005, § 300

The adoptive home study must be current to within 1 year prior to each adoptive placement.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Arkansas

Citation: Rules & Regs. 016 15 CARR 005, § 300

The agency caseworker shall ensure that at least two postplacement visits in person are made before the final decree of adoption is issued, or the stipulated time of the fulfillment of the interlocutory decree. One of the visits shall be in the home of the adoptive family.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Arkansas

Citation: Ann. Code § 9-9-211

The requirement to file with the court a report of expenditures connected to the adoption does not apply to an adoption by a stepparent whose spouse is a natural or adoptive parent of the child, or to an adoption in which the adopted person is an adult, or where the petitioner and the minor are related in the second degree.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Arkansas

Citation: Ann. Code § 9-29-201

Sending a child to another State for placement in an adoptive home or receiving a child from another State for placement in an adoptive home is subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

Foster to Adopt Placements for Adoption in Arkansas

Citation: Ann. Code § 9-9-701(f)

A family that has a foster child in its home who was placed by the department shall be eligible for the streamlined adoption process if the department selects the foster family to be the adoptive family of the foster child.

Upon selection, the department shall complete the adoptive home study within 45 business days. The department shall not require the foster family to attend training.

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California

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in California

Citation: Fam. Code § 8811

Each person filing an adoption petition must be investigated.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in California

Citation: Fam. Code § 8811

The Department of Social Services or a delegated county adoption agency shall conduct the assessment and investigation.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in California

Citation: Fam. Code § 8601

A child may be adopted by an adult who is at least 10 years older than the child. An exception to this requirement may be made if the adoptive parent is a stepparent, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, or first cousin of the child and, if that person is married, is adopting jointly with his or her spouse.

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in California

Citation: Fam. Code §§ 8811; 9001

Each person filing an adoption petition must submit fingerprints and obtain from an appropriate law enforcement agency any criminal record to establish whether he or she has ever been convicted of a crime other than a minor traffic violation.

The criminal record, if any, shall be taken into consideration when evaluating the prospective adoptive parent, and an assessment of the effects of any criminal history on the ability of the prospective adoptive parent to provide adequate and proper care and guidance to the child shall be included in the report to the court.

A home study shall be conducted that consists of a physical investigation of the premises where the child will reside.

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in California

Citation: Fam. Code § 8811; 8822

Under no circumstances shall the Department of Social Services or a delegated county adoption agency give final approval for an adoptive placement in any home where the prospective adoptive parent or any adult living in the prospective adoptive home has either of the following:

·      A felony conviction for child abuse or neglect, spousal abuse, crimes against a child including child pornography, or for a crime involving violence, including rape, sexual assault, or homicide

·      A felony conviction that occurred within the past 5 years for physical assault, battery, or a drug- or alcohol-related offense

The department or delegated county adoption agency may find that the home of the petitioners is not suitable for the child and recommend that the petition be denied.

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in California

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

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in California

Citation: Calif. DSS Manual, Regs. 35299 through 35309

The agency shall supervise the adoptive placement of the child with the prospective adoptive parent unless the child was adopted abroad. The supervision shall commence when the child is placed with the prospective adoptive parent and continue until a final decree of adoption is granted or the child is removed from the home of the prospective adoptive parent.

The duration of the supervisory period shall be no less than 6 months unless:

·      The adoptive parent has successfully completed the adoption of another child in California within the past 5 years.

·      The adoptive parent is in the military service of the United States or is employed by the American Red Cross and completion of the 6-month supervisory period would delay completion of an adoption that the agency has determined should be completed.

During the supervisory period, the agency shall provide the following services as needed to the prospective adoptive parent and to the adoptive child so that the child may be integrated successfully into the family:

·      Liaisons between the family and schools, mental and physical health agencies, rehabilitation service agencies, and other community resources

·      Updates of the psychological and medical history form to reflect any additional information revealed during the supervisory period

·      Updates of the assessment of the child to reflect any additional information discovered during the supervisory period

During the supervisory period, the agency shall conduct at least one interview in the home of the prospective adoptive parent with the parent and the adoptive child. The agency shall conduct at least three additional interviews with the prospective adoptive parent unless the duration of the supervisory period has been reduced to less than 6 months.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in California

Citation: Fam. Code § 8730; 9001

If the prospective adoptive parent of a child is a relative caregiver who has had an ongoing and significant relationship with the child, an assessment or home study may require only the following:

·      A criminal records check

·      A determination that the relative caregiver or foster parent has sufficient financial stability to support the child and ensure that any adoption assistance program payment is used exclusively to meet the child’s needs

·      A determination that the relative caregiver has not abused or neglected the child while the child has been in his or her care

·      A determination that there is not a likelihood that the relative caregiver will abuse or neglect the child in the future

·      A determination that the relative caregiver can address racial and cultural issues that may affect the child’s well-being

·      An interview with the relative caregiver, each individual residing in the home, and the adopted child

In the case of a stepparent adoption, a probation officer, qualified court investigator, licensed clinical social worker, licensed marriage family therapist, private licensed adoption agency, or, at the option of the board of supervisors, the county welfare department in the county in which the adoption proceeding is pending shall make an investigation and file a report and recommendation with the court. If a private adoption agency conducts the investigation, it shall assign the investigation to a licensed clinical social worker or marriage and family therapist associated with the agency.

Unless ordered by the court, no home study may be required of the petitioner’s home in a stepparent adoption.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in California

Citation: Fam. Code §§ 7907.5; 7901.1

A child who is born in this State and placed for adoption with a person who is not a resident of this State is subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, regardless of whether the adoption petition is filed in this State. In interstate placements, this State shall be deemed the sending State for any child born in the State.

Within 60 days of receipt of a request from another State to conduct a study of a home environment for purposes of assessing the safety and suitability of placing a child in the home, a county child welfare agency shall, directly or by contract, do both of the following:

·      Conduct and complete the study

·      Return a report to the requesting State on the results of the study that addresses the extent to which placement in the home would meet the needs of the child

Foster to Adopt Placements for Adoption in California

Citation: Fam. Code § 8730

If the prospective adoptive parent of a child is a foster parent with whom the child has lived for a minimum of 6 months, the assessment or home study procedure is the same as for a relative caregiver.

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Colorado

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Colorado

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 19-5-207

The petitioners for adoption and any adults residing in the petitioners’ home must be included in the home study.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 19-5-207

Home study reports shall be completed by the county department of social services, a designated qualified individual, or a child-placing agency approved by the State Department of Human Services.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Colorado

Citation: 12 Colo. Code Regs. 2509-6, § 7.500.351

The county department will accept applications for the adoption of children only from persons who meet the requirements of the Colorado statute and who have expressed an interest in the placement of a child who might be available at the time of the application.

The county department of social services shall require verification of an individual’s lawful presence in the United States in order to approve an application for a child’s adoption.

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Colorado

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 19-5-207; 12 Colo. Code Regs. 2509-6, § 7.500.2

The home study shall include, but not be limited to:

·      The physical and mental health, emotional stability, and moral integrity of the petitioner

·      The ability of the petitioner to promote the welfare of the child

·      Confirmation that the petitioner has participated in adoption counseling if the court deems appropriate

·      The suitability of the adoption of this child by this petitioner

·      A criminal history records check for any prospective adoptive parent and any adult residing in the home

·      A check for any substantiated reports of child abuse or neglect

In regulation: A family assessment must be completed using the Structured Analysis Family Evaluation (SAFE) instrument to determine the character and suitability of the applicant(s), appropriateness of the home, and child care practices. The assessment shall include separate and joint interviews with the applicant(s) and all adults and children residing in the home regarding:

·      Social history and background

·      Personal characteristics of the family

·      Marital and domestic partner relationship

·      The motivation for child placement

·      The applicants’ interest, preparation, and willingness to care for a child with special needs

·      Extended family relationships

·      Physical and social environment, including cleanliness; orderliness and maintenance; safety; furnishings; play area, equipment and clothing; finances; support system; and household pets

·      Parenting abilities and style

·      The applicant’s ability to care for a child of a different ethnic and cultural background

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Colorado

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 19-5-207

An application to adopt may not be approved if the petitioner or any adult residing in the home was convicted at any time of a felony or misdemeanor in one of the following areas:

·      Child abuse or neglect

·      Spousal abuse

·      Any crime against a child, including, but not limited to, child pornography

·      Any act of domestic violence

·      Violation of a protection order

·      Any crime involving violence, rape, sexual assault, or homicide

·      Any felony physical assault or battery conviction or felony drug-related conviction within, at a minimum, the past 5 years

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Colorado

Citation: 12 Colo. Code Regs. 2509-6, §§ 7.500.2; 7.500.351

The home study must be completed within 90 working days from receiving the completed background checks.

If a child has not been placed in the adoptive home within 1 year of the date of the approval of the adoption assessment, the assessment shall be reevaluated if the home is to remain active for consideration of a child, and annually thereafter until a placement is made or the case is closed. Reevaluation shall consist of at least the following:

·      A statement every 2 years from a licensed doctor regarding the current physical condition of the applicants and others living in the home

·      Documentation of any changes in the home and family, i.e., finances, employment, housing, illnesses, pregnancy; and current information, where applicable, on growth, development, and activities of children in the home

·      Changes, if any, in the kind of child desired, the reason for the change, and the family’s capacity to provide for the child currently requested

·      Determination of the appropriateness to continue approval of the home

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Colorado

Citation: 12 Colo. Code Regs. 2509-6, § 7.500.2

The county department placing the child for adoption will be responsible for postplacement supervision until the adoption is finalized, unless otherwise negotiated in the placement agreement between the county and the child- placing agency.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Colorado

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 19-5-209

A home study is not required to be filed with an adoption petition in the case of stepparent adoptions, kinship adoptions, custodial adoptions, and those cases in which placement for adoption has been made by the court.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Colorado

Citation: 12 Colo. Code Regs. 2509-4, §§ 7.304.63; 7.307.52

All out-of-State placements for kinship, foster, group, or residential care must comply with the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC), § 7.307.

County departments must follow Federal guidelines and shall not place children out of State who are in care under a placement contract (voluntary placements). Such placements can only be made by a parent or guardian.

When Colorado is the receiving State of an ICPC Request for Placement, all such requests, except for nonpublic adoptive placement requests, shall be sent by the sending State to the Colorado Deputy Compact Administrator who shall forward the request packet to the correct county department or licensed child placement agency.

The county department staff or licensed child placement agency staff assigned to ICPC cases shall complete a home study within 60 calendar days of receipt of the request from the sending State.

Foster to Adopt Placements for Adoption in Colorado

Citation: 12 Colo. Code Regs. 2509-4, § 7.500.351

The single assessment completed on a foster family for foster care will be accepted for adoption. The worker will check the adoption box on the single application form and, if appropriate, write a brief update.

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Connecticut

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Connecticut

Citation: State Agencies Regs. § 17a-145-132

The adoption home study shall include the applicant as well as all members of the applicant’s household.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in Connecticut

Citation: State Agencies Regs. § 17a-145-132

The Department of Children and Families or a child-placing agency shall conduct the assessment of any prospective adoptive parent.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Connecticut

Citation: State Agencies Regs. §§ 17a-145-143; 17a-145-144; 17a-145-147

The health of persons living in the prospective adoptive family shall not present a hazard to the children. Prospective adoptive parents and others members of the household shall be of good character, habits, and reputation.

Prospective adoptive parents shall have an income sufficient to meet the needs of their family. Money received on behalf of the child shall be expended on the care of the child.

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Connecticut

Citation: Gen. Stat. § 17a-114(b)(2); State Agencies Regs. § 17a-145-154

The applicant and any person age 16 or older living in the applicant’s household shall submit to State and national criminal history records checks prior to placement of a child. The department also shall check the State child abuse registry for the names of the applicant and any person age 16 or older living in the household.

In regulation: The department or child-placing agency shall conduct an assessment of any prospective adoptive parent(s)’ home. The assessment shall include, but not be limited to:

·      The physical condition of the home

·      The health of the applicant and other members of the household

·      The ability of the applicant to provide an environment that will advance the physical, mental, emotional, educational, and social development of the adoptive child

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Connecticut

Citation: State Agencies Regs. § 17a-145-152

Approval shall be denied if any member of the household of a prospective adoptive family:

·      Has been convicted of injury or risk of injury to a minor or other similar offenses against a minor

·      Has been convicted of impairing the morals of a minor or other similar offenses against a minor

·      Has been convicted of violent crime against a person or other similar offenses

·      Has been convicted of the possession, use, or sale of controlled substances within the past 5 years

·      Has been convicted of illegal use of a firearm or other similar offenses

·      Has ever had an allegation of child abuse or neglect substantiated

·      Has had a minor removed from their care because of child abuse or neglect

Approval may be denied if any member of the household of a prospective adoptive family:

·      Is awaiting trial, or is on trial, for charges as described above

·      Has a criminal record that the department or child-placing agency believes makes the home unsuitable

·      Has a current child abuse or neglect allegation pending

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Connecticut

Citation: Gen. Stat. § 45a-727

When an application for adoption has been filed, the court shall request the department or a child-placing agency to make an investigation and submit a written report to it, in duplicate, within 60 days from the receipt of the request.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Connecticut

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

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Connecticut

Citation: Gen. Stat. § 45a-733

An investigation and home study report are not required in the case of a child sought to be adopted by a stepparent.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Connecticut

Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 17a-152; 17a-175; State Agencies Regs. § 17a-145-136

Any person or entity, before bringing or sending any child into the State for the purpose of placing or caring for such child in any home or institution, either free or for board, shall make application to the Commissioner of Children and

Families, giving the name, the age, and a personal description of such child, the name and address of the person, home, or institution with which the child is to be placed, and such other information as may be required by the commissioner.

No sending State shall send, bring, or cause to be sent into any other party State any child for placement in a prospective adoptive home unless the sending agency complies with the Interstate Compact on the Placement of

Children and with the applicable laws of the receiving State governing the placement of children.

Prior to sending a child to a receiving State for placement in a prospective adoptive home, the sending agency shall furnish the appropriate public authorities in the receiving State written notice containing necessary information.

The child shall not be sent to 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.

In regulation: Each child-placing agency or prospective adoptive family shall comply with State statutes and regulations regarding the interstate placement of children prior to accepting placement of a child from out of State.

Foster to Adopt Placements for Adoption in Connecticut

Citation: Gen. Stat. § 17a-114

Any person licensed by the department may be a prospective adoptive parent.

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Delaware

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Delaware

Citation: Code of Regs. 9-200-201, Rule 188

The adoptive parents and other members of the household must be included in the study.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in Delaware

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 13, § 904

The preplacement evaluation must be completed by the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families (DSCYF) or a licensed agency.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Delaware

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 31, § 903; Code of Regs. 9-200-201, Rules 190, 191

A person who is at least age 21 may adopt. The person may be single, married, divorced, or legally separated.

In regulation: The adoptive parent(s) must have sufficient income to meet the needs of the family.

Members of the household must be free of communicable diseases, specific illnesses, or disabilities that would either endanger the health of the children or interfere with the capability of the household to provide care for the child.

Disabilities of adoptive parent(s) or household members are considered only as they affect the ability of the household to care for the child.

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Delaware

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 31, § 309; Code of Regs. 9-200-201, Rules 189, 192 through 196

All prospective adoptive parents are required to submit fingerprints and other necessary information in order to obtain:

·      A report of the individual’s entire criminal history record from the Delaware State Police

·      A report of the individual’s entire Federal criminal history record

·      A certification from DSCYF as to whether the individual is named in the central register as the perpetrator in a report of child abuse

In regulation: An agency shall have three written references for the adoptive parent(s) or telephone notes on such references. At least two of these references shall be persons not related to the adoptive parent(s) by blood or marriage.

The agency shall conduct at least one home visit and meet with each person who lives in the adoptive home.

The agency shall require that:

·      A single adoptive parent or an adoptive parent couple who both work outside the home have a plan for caring for children during their absence.

·      Adoptive parent(s) who conduct a business in their home demonstrate that the activities related to this business will not interfere with the care of the children.

·      An adoptive home is reasonably safe, in good repair, and at least comparable in appearance and maintenance to other family homes in the community.

·      The home and the exterior around the home are free from objects, materials, and conditions that constitute a danger to the children served.

·      An adoptive home shall be in compliance with State and local standards, ordinances, and regulations for residential use.

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Delaware

Citation: Code of Regs. 9-200-201, Rule 188

Approval of an application will be denied if the adoptive parent(s) or other members of the household have convictions, current indictment, or substantial evidence of involvement in any criminal activity involving violence against a person, child abuse or neglect, serious sexual misconduct, gross irresponsibility, disregard for the safety of others, or serious violations of accepted standards of honesty or ethical conduct.

The agency may, at its own discretion, make exemptions to the above requirement when the agency documents that the health, safety, and well-being of children would not be endangered.

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Delaware

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 13, § 904; Code of Regs. 9-200-201, Rules 199

An adoptive placement shall not be made until a preplacement evaluation that complies with the Delaware Requirements for Child Placing Agencies has been completed.

In regulation: An agency shall not approve an adoptive home unless a final written evaluation has been completed. A child shall not be placed in a home without a current written evaluation completed within 1 year prior to the date of placement.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Delaware

Citation: Code of Regs. 9-200-201, Rule 205

An agency shall arrange regular postplacement visits to the adoptive family, including home or office contacts. The initial visit shall occur within the first 4 weeks of placement and a minimum of two subsequent visits shall be made. Each member of the household shall be interviewed during the period of supervision.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Delaware

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 13, § 904

No petition for adoption shall be presented unless prior to the filing of the petition the child sought to be adopted has been placed for adoption by DSCYF or a licensed, and the placement has been supervised by DSCYF or the agency. No such placement or supervision shall be necessary in the case of:

·      A child sought to be adopted by a stepparent or a blood relative

·      A child sought to be adopted by a guardian as long as guardianship has been granted for at least 6 months prior to filing the adoption petition

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Delaware

Citation: Code of Regs. 9-200-201, Rule 66

A child-placing agency shall, when accepting for placement any child who resides in another State or placing a child in another State, comply, as appropriate, with the terms of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

Foster to Adopt Placements for Adoption in Delaware

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

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District of Columbia

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in District of Columbia

Citation: Code of Municipal Regs. § 29-1620

The study must include the applicant(s) and all household members.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in District of Columbia

Citation: Code of Municipal Regs. § 29-1620

The child-placing agency shall conduct the home study.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in District of Columbia

Citation: Code of Municipal Regs. § 29-1620

Each home study report shall include an assessment of the adoptive applicants on the following:

·      The motivation for adoption

·      Readiness to parent a child not born to them

·      The attitudes and feelings of the family and significant others involved with the family toward adoptive children

·      The attitudes of the applicants toward birth parents and the reasons the children are in need of adoption

·      Emotional stability and maturity, including the capacity to give and receive affection

·      The ability to cope with problems, stress, crises, and losses including availability of formal and informal support systems

·      The ability to provide for the child’s physical and emotional needs

·      The attitude toward discipline and child-rearing

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in District of Columbia

Citation: Code of Municipal Regs. § 29-1620

The adoptive home study is a counseling and assessment process with the primary goal of providing secure nurturing and permanent families for children. In conducting the adoptive home study, the agency shall:

·      Work with the applicant to evaluate his or her ability and readiness for adoptive parenthood

·      Make recommendations regarding the type of child to be placed with the family

·      Build supportive relationships and activities that will ensure the success of the placement

·      Provide educational opportunities for the applicant regarding the adoption process

·      Provide a written report integrating all of the information and culminating in an agency recommendation

The home study process shall include:

·      One face-to-face interview with the adoptive couple and one face-to-face individual interview with each applicant

·      One face-to-face contact with each member of the potential adoptive family household

·      Clearance with the child abuse and neglect registry and record of criminal convictions, if any

·      A summary of the medical report for each member of the adoptive family living in the household, within 6 months of the study, that verifies that each person has no communicable disease, specific illness, or disabilities that would interfere with the family’s ability to parent a child

·      The level of education completed

·      The applicant’s financial status, including current job and income, other sources of income, savings, assets, and liabilities

·      A minimum of three personal and community character references

·      The interests, hobbies, and use of leisure time for each applicant

·      Religious orientation, if any

·      A description of the home, including the adequacy of space and privacy in relation to the parent and age and sex of children

·      An assessment of the plan for child care if parents work

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in District of Columbia

Citation: Ann. Code § 4-1305.06

An individual shall not be approved to provide foster care if it is determined from the criminal records check that the individual, or an adult residing in the home of the individual, has a felony conviction for any of the following offenses or their equivalents:

·      Child abuse or neglect

·      An intrafamily offense, as defined in § 16-1001(8)

·      A crime against children, including child pornography

·      A crime involving violence, including rape, sexual assault, or homicide, but not including other physical assault or battery

An individual shall not be approved if it is determined from the criminal records check that the individual, or an adult residing in the home of the individual, has a felony conviction for any of the following offenses or their equivalents committed within the past 5 years:

·      Physical assault or battery

·      A drug-related offense

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in District of Columbia

Citation: Code of Municipal Regs. § 29-1620

An adoptive home study shall be conducted prior to the placement of a child in a home.

If a placement has not been made and 12 months have elapsed since the adoptive home study, a prospective adoptive home shall be re-evaluated.

Postplacement Study Requirements for District of Columbia

Citation: Code of Municipal Regs. § 29-1624

The child-placing agency shall provide postplacement services for at least 6 months from the date of the adoptive

placement of a child. The agency shall conduct at least three interviews during the 6-month period with the child and the parent(s) and make at least one visit to the home.

If a final decree of adoption has not been granted within 6 months of placement, the child-placing agency shall continue

to provide services until the final decree is granted.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in District of Columbia

Citation: Ann. Code § 16-308

The court may dispense with the investigation and report when the petitioner is a spouse or domestic partner of the natural parent of the prospective adopted child and the natural parent consents to the adoption or joins in the petition for adoption. A fingerprint-based criminal records check is still required.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in District of Columbia

Citation: Ann. Code § 4-1422; Code of Municipal Regs. § 29-1635

Placement of children outside the District of Columbia is subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

Prior to sending a child into a receiving State for placement in a prospective adoptive home, the agency shall furnish the appropriate authority in the receiving State written notice of the intention to place the child in the receiving State. The notice shall contain:

·      The name, date, and place of birth of the child

·      The identity and address of the parents or legal guardian

·      The name and address of the person, agency, or institution to which the agency proposes to send the child

·      A full statement of the reason for the proposed action and evidence of the authority for the proposed placement

The child shall not be sent to the receiving State until the appropriate authority in the receiving State notifies the sending

State, in writing, that the proposed placement does not appear to be contrary to the interests of the child.

In regulation: A child-placing agency in the District of Columbia that is cooperating with agencies or individuals in other States for foster or adoptive placement of a child in the District or in another jurisdiction shall comply with the interstate placement requirements of the States involved during all phases of the placement process.

Foster to Adopt Placements for Adoption in District of Columbia

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

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Florida

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Florida

Citation: Admin. Code § 65C-16.007

The adoptive applicant and other adult household members must be included in the home study. Criminal background checks will be conducted on the applicants and all persons age 12 or older residing in the prospective adoptive home.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in Florida

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 63.092; Admin. Code § 65C-16.002

The preliminary home study must be completed by a licensed child-placing agency, a registered child-caring agency, or a licensed professional. The department is required to perform the preliminary home study only if there is no licensed child-placing agency, child-caring agency, or licensed professional in the county where the prospective adoptive parents reside.

In regulation: The Department of Children and Family Services facilitates the adoption of children with special needs.

Persons seeking to adopt non-special needs children will be referred to private agencies.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Florida

Citation: Admin. Code § 65C-16.005

A social study that involves careful observation, screening, and evaluation shall be made of the child and adoptive applicants to select families who will be able to meet the physical, emotional, social, educational, and financial needs of a child, while safeguarding the child from further loss and separation from primary caregivers. In determining which applications for adoption should be approved, the following criteria must be considered:

·      The child’s choice if the child is developmentally able to participate in the decision

·      The ability and willingness of the adoptive family to adopt some or all of a sibling group

·      The commitment of the applicant to value, respect, appreciate, and educate the child regarding his or her racial and ethnic heritage

·      The family’s childrearing experience

Applications to adopt will be accepted from married couples and from single adults. Couples married less than 2 years must be given particularly careful evaluation.

Other qualifications include:

·      The family must have income and resources to ensure financial stability and security to meet expenses incurred in adequate care of the family.

·      The family’s housing and neighborhoods must provide adequate space and the living conditions necessary to promote the health and safety of the family.

·      The physical, mental, and emotional health of the prospective adoptive household members must not jeopardize the safety and permanency of the child’s placement and will be considered in determining the best interest of the child.

·      When families have children by birth or adoption, the anticipated impact of a new child on the family must be considered.

·      Working parents must be willing and able to arrange to be with the child during the transition period.

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Florida

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 63.092; Admin. Code § 65C-16.005

The preliminary home study must be made to determine the suitability of the intended adoptive parents and may be completed prior to identification of a prospective adoptive child. The study must include, at a minimum:

·      An interview with the intended adoptive parents

·      Criminal records and central abuse registry checks

·      An assessment of the physical environment of the home

·      A determination of the financial security of the intended adoptive parents

·      Documentation of counseling and education of the intended adoptive parents on adoptive parenting

In regulation: A minimum of five written references will be required. At least two of the references will be from nonrelatives. References must be obtained from persons who either have had the opportunity to observe the applicant(s) in situations that may give some indication of their capacity for parenthood, or who, as the result of their relationship to the applicant, possess or should possess documentation or knowledge of the applicant’s capacity for parenthood.

References should be obtained from employers of applicants and from schools or day care providers who have had an opportunity to know the family.

The approved adoptive parent training must be provided to and successfully completed by all prospective adoptive parents except licensed foster parents and relative caregivers who have previously attended the approved training or have been determined to understand the challenges and parenting skills needed to parent the children available for adoption from foster care successfully.

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Florida

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 63.092; Admin. Code § 65C-16.005

No minor may be placed in a home in which there resides any person determined by the court to be a sexual predator or to have been convicted of child abuse, murder, or sexual battery.

In regulation: An application may be denied when any of the following issues are present:

·      The adoptive applicant is experiencing a serious or chronic medical condition that compromises or could compromise the applicant’s ability to provide the physical, emotional, social, and economic support necessary for the child to thrive.

·      The child abuse records check reveals verified findings of abuse, neglect, or abandonment.

·      The criminal history checks reveal that the applicant(s) have been convicted of crimes specified in statute as a disqualifying condition.

·      The applicant is a current or former foster parent, and the review of the foster parent file reveals that there have been care and supervision concerns or a violation of licensing standards.

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Florida

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 63.092

Before placing the minor in the intended adoptive home, a preliminary home study must be completed. A favorable preliminary home study is valid for 1 year after the date of its completion.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Florida

Citation: Admin. Code § 65C-16.010

The department has a legal responsibility to provide services until the finalization of an adoption. This period shall be no less than 90 days from the date the child was placed in the physical custody of the adoptive parent. The first home visit must be made within 1 week after placement. There shall be a minimum of three supervisory visits in placements that are non-problematic. For placements that do not proceed smoothly, additional and more frequent contacts are necessary.

The adoptive child must be contacted a minimum of once every calendar month until adoption finalization. The entire family must be seen together at least once during the postplacement supervision period.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Florida

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 63.112

Unless ordered by the court, no report or recommendation is required when the placement is a stepparent adoption or when the minor is a relative of one of the adoptive parents.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Florida

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 409.401; Admin. Code § 65C-16.005

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.

In regulation: Families from other States wishing to adopt Florida children may apply and be studied by an agency authorized or licensed to practice adoption in their State of residence. Out-of-State placements will be facilitated through established regional or national adoption exchanges or directly with out-of-State agencies and will comply with the requirements of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

Foster to Adopt Placements for Adoption in Florida

Citation: Admin. Code § 65C-16.002

The current custodian of the child may wish to adopt. If the custodian applies to adopt the child, the application must be evaluated to determine suitability through an adoptive home study. The home study must assess the length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the depth of the relationship existing between the child and the custodian.

Adoption by the current custodian may not be in the best interests of the child in some situations. Examples of these situations include:

·      The current custodians want to adopt a child but not his or her siblings, and it is in the best interests of the sibling group to be placed together.

·      The current custodian has returned other adopted children to the department or has arranged for some other out-of-home informal long-term placement for a previously adopted child.

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Georgia

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Georgia

Citation: Rules & Regs. r. 290-9-2-.06(3)

The adoptive family must be evaluated in a home study.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in Georgia

Citation: Rules & Regs. r. 290-9-2-.06(3)

The home study shall be completed by the adoption agency.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Georgia

Citation: Ann. Code § 19-8-3

Any adult person meeting the requirements listed below shall be eligible to apply to the department or a child-placing agency for consideration as an adoption applicant. The person may petition to adopt a child if he or she:

·      Is at least age 25 or married and living with his or her spouse

·      Is at least 10 years older than the child

·      Has been a bona fide resident of the State for at least 6 months immediately preceding the filing of the petition

·      Is financially, physically, and mentally able to have permanent custody of the child

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Georgia

Citation: Rules & Regs. r. 290-9-2-.06(3)

The home study shall include at least three visits on separate days. At least one visit shall be in the home, and the applicant and all other family members shall be see and interviewed. Prospective adoptive parents shall be interviewed together as well as separately.

The study shall include at least the following information concerning the prospective adoptive family:

·      Motivation to adopt

·      A physical description and social background of each family member

·      An evaluation of parenting practices

·      A summary of health history and condition of each family member

·      An informal assessment of the emotional and mental health of each family member

·      An evaluation of the understanding of and adjustment to adoptive parenting

·      An evaluation of the prospective adoptive parent(s)’ finances and occupation

·      A description of the home and community

·      Statements regarding the results of a criminal records check and a check of the child abuse and neglect registry

·      A minimum of three character references:

» At least one reference must be from an extended family member not residing with the prospective adoptive family.

» If a prospective adoptive parent(s) has worked with children in the past 5 years, a reference must be obtained from the former employer(s) for that work experience.

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Georgia

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

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Georgia

Citation: Rules & Regs. r. 290-9-2-.06(3)

The home study must be completed prior to the placement of a child in the home. When a family is approved for an adoption placement by a Georgia agency, and a child has not been placed with the family within 1 year of the date of the approval by that agency, there shall be documentation annually of the reason(s) a placement has not been made, and a home study update shall be completed prior to a placement being made.

At a minimum, a home study update must include at least one home visit, the applicant’s current employment status, updated medical reports, changes in family composition, and any changes in types of children requested.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Georgia

Citation: Rules & Regs. r. 290-9-2-.06(7)

The agency caseworker shall make at least two home visits after the placement of the child and prior to the filing of the petition for adoption.

·      The first home visit may be made at any time after the placement of the child.

·      There shall be a minimum of 2 weeks between the required home visits for a child age 12 months or younger.

·      There shall be a minimum of 30 days between the required home visits for a child older than 12 months.

Home visits shall be made with the prospective adoptive family at least once a month prior to the filing of a petition for adoption to verify that the prospective parent(s) are delivering care in a safe and healthy environment to the children in accordance with these rules and regulations and relevant agency policies and procedures. Such visits shall include observation of the child and at least one prospective adoptive parent in the home.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Georgia

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

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Georgia

Citation: Ann. Code § 39-4-4; Rules & Regs. r. 290-9-2-.06(7)

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.

In regulation: In an interstate adoption placement where Georgia is the State of origin, the requirements for services following an adoption placement may be met by fulfilling the requirements of the receiving State.

Foster to Adopt Placements for Adoption in Georgia

Citation: Ann. Code § 19-8-3; Rules & Regs. r. 290-9-2-.06(7)

Any adult person, including, but not limited to, a foster parent, meeting the requirements listed below shall be eligible to apply to the department or a child-placing agency for consideration as an adoption applicant. The person may petition to adopt a child if he or she:

·      Is at least age 25 or married and living with his or her spouse

·      Is at least 10 years older than the child

·      Has been a bona fide resident of the State for at least 6 months immediately preceding the filing of the petition

·      Is financially, physically, and mentally able to have permanent custody of the child

In regulation: When foster parent(s) are adopting their foster child, the foster parents may proceed with the filing of the petition prior to any home visits.

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Guam

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Guam

Citation: Admin. Rules Tit. 26, § 1312

The applicant and all members of the applicant’s family will be included in the study.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in Guam

Citation: Admin. Rules Tit. 26, § 1312

The department or agency shall conduct the home study.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Guam

Citation: Admin. Rules Tit. 26, § 1307

Any individual may apply to be an adoptive parent. There shall be no discrimination against applicants because of ethnicity, sex, marital status, or lifestyle. However, applicants must be at least age 18 and 10 years older than the prospective adoptive child.

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Guam

Citation: Admin. Rules Tit. 26, § 1312

The applicants must submit the following documents, where applicable:

·      Copies of birth certificates, marriage certificates, and divorce decrees

·      Employment verification

·      A financial statement, including income, savings, assets, expenses, and insurance

·      The results of physical examinations

·      References from two nonrelatives

·      A police clearance from the place of current or previous residence

The study shall include:

·      The background of the applicant, including education, childhood history, and family relationships

·      Motivation for adoption

·      The condition and suitability of the applicant’s home

·      Religious affiliation, if any

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Guam

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

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Guam

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 19, § 4210; Admin. Rules Tit. 26, §§ 1307, 1312

Upon the filing of an adoption petition, the court shall direct that a social study be made by the department.

In regulation: Once applications are submitted, no further contact is made unless, upon review of application, clarification is needed regarding points on the application or if the applicant is considered one of the three applicants preselected for a prospective adoptive child. A preadoption home study will then be conducted on these applicants.

When the court orders a social study, the department will request the court to have a 45-day period to submit completed home studies unless specified in the court order. Extensions may be requested by the department if necessary.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Guam

Citation: Admin. Rules Tit. 26, § 1311

After the child is placed in an adoptive home, there shall be a supervisory period of up to 1 year prior to the consummation of the adoption, during which time the department shall give supportive assistance to the adoptive parents in adjusting to the child and integrating the child into the family. It will consist of scheduled visits, at least quarterly, in which the worker will monitor the child’s and family’s adjustment to each other.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Guam

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

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Guam

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

Foster to Adopt Placements for Adoption in Guam

Citation: Admin. Rules Tit. 26 § 1310

Adoption of a child in foster care by the foster parents will be considered by the agency under the following conditions:

·      The Adoption Selection Committee determines that this is in the best interests of the child.

·      The child has lived in the foster home for at least 1 year and has developed ties with the family, or the child is hard to place’ because of age, racial background, physical or mental handicap, questionable health or social background, etc., and the foster parents are willing to adopt the child, having prior knowledge of these factors.

The foster home shall then be re-evaluated in terms of adoption. The evaluation shall include:

·      The foster parents’ feelings about adopting a child whose whereabouts are known to the natural parents

·      Their capacity to give security to the child under those circumstances

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Hawaii

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Hawaii

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 346-19.7

The prospective adoptive parents or any adult residing in the prospective adoptive home shall be included in the study.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in Hawaii

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 346-19.7

The Department of Human Services is responsible for conducting the study. The department may authorize or contract for home studies of prospective adoptive parents for children under the department’s custody by experienced social workers with specialized adoption experience.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Hawaii

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 346-19.7

Any person who seeks to become an adoptive parent, including all adults residing in the prospective adoptive home, shall:

·      Meet all standards and requirements established by the department

·      Be subject to criminal history record checks and child abuse and neglect registry checks

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Hawaii

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 346-19.7

The department shall develop standards to ensure the reputable and responsible character of prospective adoptive parents as defined in this chapter.

The department shall develop procedures for obtaining verifiable information regarding the criminal history and child abuse and neglect registry information of persons who are seeking to become adoptive parents. The department or its designee shall obtain criminal history record information through the Hawaii criminal justice data center, and child abuse record information from the department in accordance with departmental procedures.

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Hawaii

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 346-19.7

The department may deny a person’s application to adopt a child if either of the prospective adoptive parents or any adult residing in the prospective adoptive home was convicted of an offense for which incarceration is a sentencing option, and if the department finds by reason of the nature and circumstances of the crime that either of the prospective adoptive parents, or any adult residing in the prospective adoptive home, poses a risk to the health, safety, or well-being of the child.

The department may deny a person’s application to adopt a child if either of the prospective adoptive parents or any adult residing in the prospective adoptive home has a history of confirmed child abuse or neglect, or both, revealed by the child abuse and neglect registry check, and if the department finds by reason of the nature and circumstances of the abuse or neglect, or both, that either of the prospective adoptive parents or any adult residing in the prospective adoptive home poses a risk to the health, safety, or well-being of the child.

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Hawaii

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 578-8

The court may enter a decree of adoption if it is satisfied that the petitioners are fit and proper persons and financially able to give the individual a proper home and education and that the adoption will be for the best interests of the child.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Hawaii

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 578-9

During the period, if any, between the entry of the adoption decree and the effective date of adoption, the decree may provide for the supervision and visitation of the minor child by the director of human services or the director’s agent during that period and for any reports in connection with that supervision as the court may require.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Hawaii

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

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Hawaii

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 350E-1

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 for Adoption in Hawaii

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

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Idaho

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Idaho

Citation: Ann. Code § 16-1506

The investigation must include the prospective adoptive family and all of its members.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in Idaho

Citation: Ann. Code § 16-1506

The social investigation may be performed by any individual who meets the requirements of the law.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Idaho

Citation: Ann. Code § 16-1502

The person adopting a child must be at least 15 years older than the adopted child or age 25 or older.

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Idaho

Citation: Admin. Code §§ 16.06.01.750, 762, 770; 16.05.06.100

Initial interviews with groups of applicants or with individual families will be used to explain Department of Health and

Welfare policies and procedures regarding adoptive placement, the kinds of children available, and the nature of the home study. Applicants will be screened to assess their suitability to care for a specific child or children in general.

A full home study must then be made to determine the ability of the applicant to meet the needs of children available for adoption, and the specific characteristics of children the applicant indicates would be most suitably placed in the home.

For an Indian child, the study also will determine the prevailing social and cultural standards of the Indian community in which the parent(s) or extended family resides or maintains social and cultural ties.

Preplacement home studies must document the following:

·      Verification that the family has resided in the State for at 6 consecutive months prior to the filing of the petition

·      Verification of the ages of the adopting parent(s)

·      A medical statement for each applicant, signed by a qualified medical professional, within the 12-month period prior to application to be an adoptive parent, indicating the applicant is in such physical and mental health so as to not adversely affect either the health or quality of care of the adopted child

·      At least three satisfactory references, one of which may be from a person related to the applicant

All persons applying to the department or petitioning the court to be an adoptive parent and all adults in the home, except stepparents applying for adoption of a stepchild, are required to complete a fingerprint-based criminal history and background check.

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Idaho

Citation: Admin. Code §§ 16.06.01.761; 16.05.06.210

Following an initial interview, an applicant who does not appear to meet the department’s requirements may be denied a full home study.

An applicant will not be approved as an adoptive parent when the person discloses or the criminal history and background check reveals a conviction for a disqualifying crime on his or her record for any of the crimes listed in regulation.

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Idaho

Citation: Ann. Code § 16-1506; Admin. Code §§ 16.06.01.762, 764, 771

A thorough social investigation must be completed prior to the placement of any child in the home of prospective adoptive parents. Once initiated, all studies shall be completed within 60 days.

In regulation: Once the full adoptive home study has been initiated, it must be completed within 3 months.

Upon application by a potential adoptive family, the family services worker will conduct the preplacement adoptive home study and issue the verification of positive recommendation where appropriate. The home study must be completed prior to placement of any child for adoption in that home.

An adoptive home study must be updated on an annual basis. A current home study is defined as a home study completed within the previous 12 months.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Idaho

Citation: Admin. Code §§ 16.06.01.860; 16.06.01.861

Following the adoptive placement, a period of support and supervision by the department lasting at least 6 months must be completed prior to the finalization of the adoption. In situations where a foster family has a significant relationship with a child and the child has been placed in their home for at least the past 6 months, the supervisory period may be reduced to a minimum of 3 months. The family services worker will make scheduled visits to the home at least monthly during this period to assist the child and the family in their adjustment to each other and will update the child’s permanent record by means of monthly progress reports.

Progress reports must be made at intervals not to exceed 30 days. These reports will include the family services worker’s observation of each child and the prospective adopting parent(s), with emphasis on:

·      The special needs or circumstances of each child at time of placement

·      Services provided to each child and the family during the report period

·      Services to be provided to each child and the family

·      General appearance and adjustment of each child, including eating, sleep patterns, responsiveness, and bonding

·      Adjustment of each child to all of the following that apply: school, day care, and day treatment programs

·      Health and developmental progress

·      Whether each child has been accepted for coverage on the family’s medical insurance, when coverage begins, and whether there will be any limitations or exclusions

·      The family’s adjustment to adoptive placement

·      Adoption assistance negotiations

·      Changes in family situation or circumstances

·      Areas of concern during the report period as addressed by each child and the adoptive parent(s)

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Idaho

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 16-1502; 16-1506

Age restrictions or requirements do not apply when the adopting parent is a spouse of a natural parent.

When the prospective adoptive parent is married to the birth parent or is the grandparent of the adoptive child, the social investigation shall be completed with regard to the prospective adoptive parent only upon order of the court.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Idaho

Citation: Ann. Code § 16-2102; Admin. Code § 16.06.01.030

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.

In regulation: When necessary to encourage all possible positive contacts with family, including extended family, placement with family members or others who are outside the State of Idaho will be considered. On very rare occasions, the department may contract with a residential facility out of State if it best serves the needs of the child and is at a comparable cost to facilities within Idaho. When out-of-State placement is considered in the permanency planning for a child, such placement will be coordinated with the respective interstate compact administrator according to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children. Placements must comply with all State and Federal laws.

Foster to Adopt Placements for Adoption in Idaho

Citation: Admin. Code § 16.06.01.790

The procedure and requirements are the same for all adoptive applicants. This includes foster parents who want to be considered as adoptive parents for a child who has a plan of adoption. These requirements include compliance with the

Indian Child Welfare Act, the Multi-Ethnic Placement Act of 1994, and the Interethnic Adoption Provisions of 1996.

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Illinois

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Illinois

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 89, § 402.4

Each applicant and adult member of the applicant’s household shall be included in the investigation. In addition, members of the household ages 13 through 17 must authorize a check of child abuse and neglect registry and the child sex offender registry.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in Illinois

Citation: Comp. Stat. Ch. 750, § 50/6

The court shall appoint a child welfare agency approved by the Department of Children and Family Services or a person deemed competent by the court to conduct the investigation. In Cook County, the Court Services Division of the Cook

County Department of Public Aid or the Department of Children and Family Services may be appointed if the court determines that no child welfare agency is available or that the petitioner is financially unable to pay for the investigation.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Illinois

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 89, § 309.105

A person seeking to adopt must:

·      Have resided in the State of Illinois continuously for a period of at least 6 months immediately preceding the commencement of an adoption proceeding, or be a member of the armed forces of the United States who has been domiciled in the State for 90 days

·      Be a reputable person of legal age and of either sex

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Illinois

Citation: Comp. Stat. Ch. 750, § 50/6; Admin. Code Tit. 89, § 402.28

The study shall investigate accurately, fully, and promptly the allegations contained in the petition; the character, reputation, health and general standing in the community of the petitioners; the religious faith of the petitioners and, if ascertainable, of the child sought to be adopted; and whether the petitioners are proper persons to adopt the child and whether the child is a proper subject of adoption. The investigation required shall include a fingerprint-based criminal background check with a review of fingerprints by the Illinois State Police and the FBI. The criminal background check shall not be more than 2 years old.

In regulation: An adoptive home shall be licensed as a foster family home before placement of an unrelated child for adoption.

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Illinois

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 89, § 402, Appx. A

Final approval for licensure shall not be granted if the record check reveals a felony conviction for child abuse or neglect, for spousal abuse, for a crime against children, or for a crime involving violence, including rape, sexual assault or homicide, but not including other physical assault or battery, or if there is a felony conviction for physical assault, battery, or a drug-related offense committed within the past 5 years.

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Illinois

Citation: Comp. Stat. Ch. 750, § 50/6

The court will order an investigation within 10 days after the filing of a petition for the adoption of a child other than a related child.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Illinois

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 89, § 309.160

Postplacement services are provided to the child and adoptive family from the date of placement of the child in the adoptive home to the date of finalization of the adoption for the purpose of:

·      Continuing the activities around the preparation of the child for adoption

·      Ensuring the health and safety of the child

·      Ensuring successful integration of the child in the adoptive home

·      Providing continuing support and placement stabilization in order to minimize the risk of placement disruption

·      Facilitating adoption finalization

The department or adoption agency will continue to assess the child and family after placement has occurred to ensure that all existing and potential needs have been identified and appropriate support services are in place prior to finalization. The services provided by the department or adoption agency will be related to the needs of the adoptive family and the special needs of the adopted child, particularly if the child is older; has medical conditions; has physical, mental, or emotional disabilities; or is of a different ethnic, racial, or cultural background than the adoptive family. The assessment will explore the level of attachment occurring within the adoptive family and will utilize specific activities designed to promote and enhance attachment.

Information relating to the finalization of the adoption is provided to the family, and efforts are directed toward completing all necessary reports required prior to finalization. The department or adoption agency will schedule regular in-person contacts with the family and child following placement until the adoption is finalized.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Illinois

Citation: Comp. Stat. Ch. 750, § 50/6; Admin. Code Tit. 89, § 309.105

An investigation of an adoption petition shall not be made when the petition seeks to adopt a related child or an adult unless the court, in its discretion, shall so order. In such an event, the court may appoint a person deemed competent by the court.

In regulation: The residence requirement shall not apply to an adoption of a related child or to an adoption of a child placed by an agency.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Illinois

Citation: Comp. Stat. Ch. 45, § 15/1

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 for Adoption in Illinois

Citation: Comp. Stat. Ch. 750, § 50/15.1

Any person age 18 or older who has cared for a child for a continuous period of 1 year or more as a foster parent may apply to the child’s guardian for the guardian’s consent to adopt the child. The guardian shall give preference and first consideration to that application over all other applications for adoption of the child, but the guardian’s final decision shall be based on the welfare and best interests of the child. In arriving at this decision, the guardian shall consider all relevant factors, including, but not limited to:

·      The wishes of the child

·      The interaction and interrelationship of the child with the applicant to adopt the child

·      The child’s need for stability and continuity of relationship with parent figures

·      The wishes of the child’s parent as expressed in writing prior to that parent’s execution of a consent to adoption

·      The child’s adjustment to his or her present home, school, and community

·       The mental and physical health of all individuals involved

·      The family ties between the child and the applicant and the value of preserving family ties between the child and the child’s relatives, including siblings

·      The background, age, and living arrangements of the applicant

·      The criminal background check report presented to the court as part of the required investigation

The final determination of the propriety of the adoption shall be within the sole discretion of the court.

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Indiana

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Indiana

Citation: Ann. Code § 31-19-7-1

All adult members of the prospective adoptive family must be studied.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in Indiana

Citation: Ann. Code § 31-19-8-5

The study shall be completed by either a licensed child-placing agency or the county Office of Family and Children.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Indiana

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 31-19-2-2; 31-19-2-3

A resident of Indiana may adopt a child. A hard-to-place child may be adopted by a

nonresident.

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Indiana

Citation: Ann. Code §§31-19-8-6; 31-9-2-22.5

The report required must address the suitability of the proposed home for the child. The report may not contain any information concerning the financial condition of the prospective adoptive parents. The results of a criminal history check must accompany the report.

A criminal history check shall include:

·      A fingerprint-based criminal history background check of both national and State records databases concerning a person who is at least age 18 residing in the home

·      A check for substantiated reports of child abuse or neglect reported in any jurisdiction where a household member has resided within the previous 5 years

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Indiana

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

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Iowa

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Iowa

Citation: Admin. Code § 441-107.8(600)

The preplacement investigation shall include the applicants for adoption and each member of the applicants’ household.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in Iowa

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 600.8

The background investigation shall be made by the agency, the person making an independent placement, or an investigator. The Department of Human Services, an agency, or an investigator shall complete the postplacement investigations and reports.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Iowa

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 600.5

A petition to adopt a child may be filed by any unmarried adult or a husband and wife together

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Iowa

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 600.8; Admin. Code § 441-107.8(600)

A preplacement investigation shall answer the following:

·      Whether the home of the petitioner is suitable for the placement of a child

·      How the petitioner’s emotional maturity, finances, health, relationships, and any other relevant factor may affect his or her ability to accept, care, and provide a child with an adequate environment as that child matures

·      Whether the petitioner has been convicted of a crime under a law of any State or has a record of founded child abuse

In regulation: The preplacement investigation shall include at a minimum two contacts, one face-to-face interview with the applicants and each member of the household, and at least one home visit. The assessment shall include the following:

·      Motivation for adoption and whether the family has other children

·      The family’s attitude toward accepting an adopted child and plans for discussing adoption with the child

·      Emotional stability and marital history

·      Ability to cope with problems, stress, frustrations, crises, separation, and loss

·      Medical conditions that would affect the applicant’s ability to parent a child

·      Ability to provide for the child’s physical and emotional needs

·      Adjustment of birth children and previously adopted children

·      Capacity to give and receive affection

·      Statements from at least three references provided by the family and other unsolicited references

·      Income information

·      Disciplinary practices that will be used

·      History of abuse by family members and treatment

·      Assessment of commitment to and capacity to maintain other significant relationships

·      Substance use or abuse by family members and treatment

The adoption investigator shall submit records checks for each applicant and for any other adult living in the home of the applicant to determine whether they have founded child abuse reports or criminal convictions.

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Iowa

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 600.8; Admin. Code § 441-107.8(600)

A prospective adoption petitioner shall not be approved if the petitioner has been convicted of any of the following felony offenses:

·      A drug-related offense within the 5-year period preceding the petition date

·      Child endangerment or neglect or abandonment of a dependent person

·      Domestic abuse

·      A crime against a child, including but not limited to, sexual exploitation of a minor

·      A forcible felony

The person making the investigation shall not approve a prospective adoption petitioner unless an evaluation has been made that considers the nature and seriousness of the crime or founded abuse in relation to the adoption, the time elapsed since the commission of the crime or founded abuse, the circumstances under which the crime or founded abuse was committed, the degree of rehabilitation, and the number of crimes or founded abuse committed by the person involved.

In regulation: If there is a record of founded child abuse or a criminal conviction for the applicant, or any other adult living in the home of the applicant, the applicant shall not be approved as an adoptive family unless an evaluation determines that the abuse or criminal conviction does not warrant prohibition of approval.

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Iowa

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 600.8

The postplacement report shall be completed and filed with the court prior to the holding of the adoption hearing. A copy of the background information investigation report shall be furnished to the adoption petitioners within 30 days after the filing of the adoption petition.

The preplacement investigation and report shall be completed and the prospective adoption petitioner approved for a placement by the person making the investigation prior to any agency or independent placement of a child in the petitioner’s home in anticipation of an ensuing adoption. A report of a preplacement investigation that has approved a prospective adoption petitioner for a placement shall not authorize placement of a minor person with that petitioner after 1 year from the date of the report’s issuance.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Iowa

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 600.8; Admin. Code § 441-107.8(600)

A postplacement investigation and a report of this investigation shall:

·      Verify the allegations of the adoption petition and its attachments and of the report of expenditures required by § 600.9

·      Evaluate the progress of the placement of the adopted child

·      Determine whether adoption by the adoption petitioner is in the best interests of the adopted child

In regulation: When an adoption investigator completes postplacement supervision, at least three visits to the adoptive family’s home and personal observation of the child are required. Postplacement reports are to be written after each postplacement visit and copies kept in the permanent family file retained by the investigator. Postplacement supervision should assess the placement in the following areas:

·      Integration and interaction of the child with the family

·      Changes in the family functioning that may be due to the child’s placement

·      Social, emotional, and school adjustment of the child

·      Changes that have occurred in the family since placement of the child

·      The family’s method of dealing with testing behaviors and discipline

Home visits shall be completed at a minimum as follows:

·      One no later than 30 days after placement

·      One no later than 90 days after placement

·      A final visit prior to requesting a consent to adopt

Home visits shall be completed as often as necessary if the adoptive family is experiencing problems. A report based on the postplacement visits with recommendations regarding the finalization of the adoption shall be submitted to the court.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Iowa

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 600.8

Any investigation or report required under this section shall not apply when the adopted person is an adult or when the adoption petitioner is a stepparent of the adopted person. However, in the case of a stepparent adoption, the court may order an investigation. Additionally, if an adoption petitioner discloses a criminal conviction or deferred judgment for an offense other than a simple misdemeanor or founded child abuse report, the petitioner shall notify the court of the inclusion of this information in the petition prior to the final adoption hearing, and the court shall make a specific ruling regarding whether to waive any investigation.

The preplacement investigation and report may be waived by the court if the adoption petitioner is related within the fourth degree of consanguinity to the adopted person. However, if an adoption petitioner discloses a criminal conviction

or deferred judgment for an offense other than a simple misdemeanor or founded child abuse report, the petitioner shall notify the court of the inclusion of this information in the petition prior to the final adoption hearing, and the court shall make a specific ruling regarding whether to waive any investigation or report.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Iowa

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 600.8

In the case of the adoption of a child by a person domiciled or residing in any other jurisdiction of the United States, any investigation or report required under this section that has been conducted pursuant to the standards of that other jurisdiction shall be recognized in this State.

The department or an agency or investigator may conduct any investigations required for an interstate or interagency placement. Any interstate investigations or placements shall follow the procedures and regulations under the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children. Such investigations and placements shall comply with the laws of the States involved.

Foster to Adopt Placements for Adoption in Iowa

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

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Kansas

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Kansas

Citation: Admin. Regs. § 28-4-176

Each member of the prospective adoptive family must be included in the home study.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in Kansas

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 59-2132

In independent and agency adoptions, the court shall require the petitioner to obtain an assessment of the advisability of the adoption by a court-approved licensed:

·      Social worker

·      Marriage and family therapist

·      Professional counselor

·      Psychologist or psychotherapist

·      Child-placing agency

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Kansas

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 59-2113; Admin. Regs. § 28-4-176

A petition to adopt a child may be filed by any unmarried adult or a husband and wife together.

In regulation: The agency shall provide orientation to prospective adoptive parents to acquaint them with the agency’s policies and practices, the approximate time the assessment will take, eligibility standards, types of children available, and the availability of subsidy.

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Kansas

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 59-2132; Admin. Regs. § 28-4-176

In making the assessment, the investigator is authorized to observe the child in the petitioner’s home, verify financial information of the petitioner, clear the name of the petitioner with the child abuse and neglect registry and, when appropriate, with a similar registry in another State, and clarify any genetic and medical history filed with the petition.

In regulation: The agency shall require prospective adoptive parents to submit an application that shall be designed to obtain information their family, their home, their financial status, and references to initiate a home study. The agency shall conduct a social study with the family in their home. The study process shall include a face-to-face interview with each member of the household. The agency shall have on file a written assessment of the adoptive home that shall assess the following areas:

·      Motivation for adoption

·      The family’s attitude toward accepting an adoptive child

·      Emotional stability, physical health, and compatibility of the adoptive parents

·      Ability to cope with problems, stress, frustrations, crises, and loss

·      Information on medical or health conditions that would affect the applicant’s ability to parent a child

·      Record of convictions other than minor traffic violations

·      Ability to provide for child’s physical and emotional needs

·      Adjustment of the petitioners’ own children, if any, including their school reports

·      Positive feelings about parenting an adoptive child

·      Capacity to give and receive affection

·      Types of children desired and kinds of handicaps accepted

·      Types of children who would not be appropriate for placement with the family

·      References

·      Recommendations for number, age, sex, characteristics, and special needs children best served by the family

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Kansas

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 59-2132

In making the assessment, the investigator shall determine whether the petitioner has been convicted of a felony for any act described in chapter 21, articles 34 [crimes against person, including murder, manslaughter, assault, battery, or kidnapping], 35 [sex offenses, including rape, sexual battery, or sexual exploitation of a child], or 36 [crimes affecting family relationships or children, including incest, abuse, abandonment, or endangerment of a child], (prior to their repeal, or section 36 through 86, 174, 210, 211 or 229 through 231 of chapter 136 of the 2010 Session Laws of Kansas) or, within the past 5 years been convicted of a felony violation of §§ 21-36a01 through 21-36a17, or any felony violation of any provision of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act prior to July 1, 2009, and, when appropriate, any similar conviction in another jurisdiction.

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Kansas

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 59-2132

The assessment and report required by this section shall have been completed no more than 1 year prior to the filing of the petition for adoption.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Kansas

Citation: Admin. Regs. § 28-4-176

The agency worker shall establish a time schedule for visits to the adoptive family after the placement of a child in order to be able to make clear recommendations for the finalization of the adoption.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Kansas

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 59-2132

The assessment and report required by this section may be waived by the court upon review of a petition requesting such waiver by a relative of the child.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Kansas

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 59-2120; 59-2132

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.

In the case of a nonresident who is filing a petition to adopt a child in Kansas, the assessment and report required by this section must be completed in the petitioner’s State of residence by a person authorized in that State to conduct such assessments. Such report shall be filed with the court no less than 10 days before the hearing on the petition.

Foster to Adopt Placements for Adoption in Kansas

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

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Kentucky

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Kentucky

Citation: Admin. Regs. Tit. 922, § 1:010

The study must include the proposed adoptive parent(s) and members of the household.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in Kentucky

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 199.473

The cabinet shall conduct the home study for an applicant whose total gross income is equal to or less than 250 percent of the Federal poverty level guidelines unless the applicant submits a written request for the home study to be conducted by a licensed child-placing agency.

A licensed child-placing agency approved to provide adoption services shall conduct the home study for an applicant whose gross total income is more than 250 percent of the Federal poverty level guidelines.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Kentucky

Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 199.470; 199.475

An adoption petition may be filed by any person who is age 18 or older who is a resident of the State or who has resided in the State for 12 months prior to filing the petition.

Any person who has been a resident of any U.S. Army post, military reservation, or fort within Kentucky for 60 days may file a petition for adoption of a child in any county adjacent to the army post or military reservation.

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Kentucky

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 199.473; Admin. Regs. Tit. 922, §§ 1:010; 1:490

The purpose of the home study shall be to review the background of the applicant and determine the suitability of the applicant to receive a child, taking into account at all times the best interests of the child for whom the application to adopt has been made.

In regulation: The home study of a proposed adoptive parent shall include:

·      A minimum of three personal references, including one from a relative

·      A minimum of two financial references

·      A criminal background check

·      A child abuse and neglect check

·      A minimum of one home visit and face-to-face interview with each proposed adoptive parent and members of the parent(s)’ household

An applicant, and each adult member of the household, shall submit to:

·      An in-State criminal records check

·      A child abuse or neglect check for each State of residence during the past 5 years

·      A criminal records check conducted by means of a fingerprint check of the National Crime Information Database

·      An address check of the Sex Offender Registry

Prior to approval of an applicant, each adolescent member of the household shall submit to a child abuse or neglect check.

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Kentucky

Citation: Admin. Regs. Tit. 922, § 1:490

An applicant shall not be approved if a criminal records check reveals that the applicant or adult member of the household has a:

·      Felony conviction involving:

» A spouse, a child, sexual violence, or death as described by 42 U.S.C. 671(a)(20)

» Physical abuse, battery, a drug, or alcohol within the 5-year period prior to application

·      Criminal conviction relating to child abuse or neglect

·      Civil judicial determination related to child abuse or neglect

An applicant shall not be approved if a child abuse or neglect check reveals that the applicant, adolescent member of the household, or adult member of the household has been found to have:

·      Committed sexual abuse or sexual exploitation of a child

·      Been responsible for a child fatality related to abuse or neglect

·      Had parental rights terminated involuntarily

An applicant shall not be approved if an address check of the sex offender registry and supporting documentation confirm that a sex offender resides at the applicant’s home address.

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Kentucky

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 199.473

Prior to the approval of an application to receive a child, a home study shall be completed. The portion of the home study pertaining to the home and family background shall be valid for 1 year following the date of its completion by an adoption worker.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Kentucky

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 199.510

Upon filing a petition for the adoption of a minor child, the clerk of the court shall forward two copies of the petition to the cabinet. The cabinet, or any person, agency, or institution designated by the cabinet or the court shall, to the extent possible, investigate and report in writing to the court:

·      Whether the contents of the petition are true

·      Whether the proposed adoptive parents are financially able and morally fit to have the care, custody, and training of the child

·      Whether the adoption is to the best interests of the child and the child is suitable for adoption

The report shall be filed with the court as soon as practicable but no later than 90 days from the placement of the child.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Kentucky

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 199.470

No petition for adoption shall be filed unless prior to the filing of the petition the child being adopted has been placed by a child-placing agency or by the cabinet, or the child has been placed with written approval of the secretary.

No approval shall be necessary in the case of a child being adopted by a stepparent, grandparent, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, great-grandparent, great-aunt, or great-uncle. However, the court in its discretion may order a report in accordance with § 199.510 and a background check.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Kentucky

Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 199.473; 615.030

When either the custodial parent or parents of the child to be placed or the persons wishing to receive the child reside out-of-State, the requirements of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children shall be met before the cabinet gives approval for the child’s placement.

Prior to sending or bringing any child into a receiving State for placement for a possible adoption, the sending agency shall furnish the appropriate public authorities in the receiving State written notice of the intention to place the child in the receiving State. The child shall not be sent to the receiving State until the appropriate public authorities in the receiving State notify the sending agency, in writing, to the effect that the proposed placement does not appear to be contrary to the interests of the child.

Foster to Adopt Placements for Adoption in Kentucky

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

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Louisiana

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Louisiana

Citation: Admin. Code § 67:V.7315

The home study must include the applicant(s) and all members of the household.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in Louisiana

Citation: Children’s Code Art. 1207; 1229

For a private or agency adoption, the department shall investigate and submit a confidential report of its findings to the court. The department may delegate the performance of this investigation to a licensed private adoption agency, but the department remains responsible for ensuring the accuracy and thoroughness of the resulting report and for the safety and welfare of the child.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Louisiana

Citation: Children’s Code Art. 1198; 1221; Admin. Code § 67:V.7315

A single person who is age 18 or older or a married couple jointly may petition to adopt a child.

In regulation: Applicants must verify:

·      Their marital status, whether legally married or single

·      Their identities

·      That they are either U.S. citizens or legal aliens

·      That they are at least age 18

·      That they have sufficient income, separate from foster care reimbursement, to meet the needs of the family

·      That they and all household members:

» Have no communicable or infectious diseases

» Have no illness or condition that would present a health (including past and present mental health) or safety risk to a child placed in the home

» Are physically able to provide necessary care for a child

Applicants must provide three personal references of people not related to them and one reference who is related to the applicant(s) but does not live in the home.

The adoptive parent(s) shall participate in training provided or approved by the agency to develop and enhance their skills.

The applicant’s home must meet the health and safety requirements listed in regulation.

Elements of a Home Study in Louisiana

Citation: Admin. Code § 67:V.7315

The agency shall complete a State and national criminal background check for each adoption applicant and any member of the household. A check of the State Central Registry shall be conducted on household members age 18 and older for each State where the person has resided for the past 5 years.

The study shall include:

·      At least two home consultation visits and a third visit that may be a home or office visit

·      Separate face-to-face interviews with each age-appropriate member of the household and an interview with an adult child of the applicant, who does not live in the applicant’s home, regarding the applicant’s parenting history

·      Motivation for adoption

·      History of any previous application for adoption

·      Background and social information of all members of the household, including:

» Personality, family background, customs, and relationships

» Children in the family and family interaction patterns, where and how a new child will fit in and affect family relationships

» Hobbies, interests, social and family contacts, involvement in the community, and how these will be affected by the addition of a new child

» Religious affiliation and practices

» The attitude of each member of the family toward the placement of a child into the home

» Disciplinary beliefs and practices

» The plan for child care if parent(s) work outside of the home

» Provisions for meeting the needs of a special needs placement

» Attitudes and capacities for parenting an adopted child

» Attitude toward birth parent(s) and the reason the child is in need of adoption

» Understanding and acceptance of the adopted child’s background, heritage, identity, and need for sibling and/or family contact

» Readiness and capacity to discuss adoption with the child and deal with adoption-related issues that arise

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Louisiana

Citation: Admin. Code § 67:V.7315

No person who is listed on the State Central Registry with a valid finding of child abuse or neglect may reside in an adoptive home.

The applicant shall be notified, in writing, within 30 days if the request to become an adoptive home parent is not recommended for one of the following reasons:

·      The applicant is unwilling to withdraw the request to become an adoption parent after receiving a recommendation to withdraw.

·      The applicant desires to adopt but is unwilling to adopt a child under the custodial control of the department.

The provider shall enter a dispositional summary in the case record clearly indicating the reason for denial of the application for certification, the manner in whih the decision was presented to the family, and whether or not they agreed with the decision. If the applicant disagrees with the department’s recommendation to not accept the applicant as an adoption home, department staff shall review the request to become an adoption home parent and issue a final written determination regarding the department’s recommendation.

A home shall be decertified if:

·      The family does not meet the general requirements for an adoption home.

·      The placement is not in the best interests of a child.

·      Sexual abuse or exploitation by the parent or other resident of the home is substantiated.

·      Substantiated child abuse or neglect by a household resident occurs that is serious in nature or warrants removal of a child.

·      A serious physical or mental illness develops that may preclude adequate care of the child by the parent.

·      A child has not been placed in the home within the preceding 2 years.

If it is necessary to decertify a home, the reason shall be stated in a personal interview with the family. The provider shall confirm, in a written notice to the parent, the decision to decertify a home. The notice shall be delivered within 30 calendar days of the interview.

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Louisiana

Citation: Admin. Code § 67:V.7315

The home study must be completed prior to adoptive placement of a child in the home.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Louisiana

Citation: Admin. Code § 67:V.7315

The agency placing a child shall remain responsible for the child until a final decree has been granted.

The child and family shall be seen within 3 weeks of placement and once every 2 months thereafter, with a visit within 30 days prior to the final decree. At least two of the supervisory visits shall be in the adoptive home and shall include both adoptive parents (if applicable) and all other members of the household.

Observations made during the visits shall be used in making recommendations for finalization of the adoption or to assist the family if problems arise that cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of the family and provider. The agency shall assist the family directly and/or refer the family to a provisional resource outside of the agency to address the problem(s).

In special needs placements, supervisory visits should be made at least once every 2 months to provide information, assistance, and support to the family.

Written reports of the supervisory visits shall be dated, sent to the department as part of the confidential report, and placed in the records of the child and adoptive parent(s).

The agency shall:

·      Be available to give the family assistance, consultation, and emotional support with situations and problems encountered in permanent placement

·      Ensure continuation of case management, visits, and telephone contacts based upon the needs of the child until the adoption is legally granted

·      Be made aware of any change in the adoptive home, including health, education, or behavior

·      Be responsible for assisting adoptive parents to finalize the adoption or, in cases where the adoption cannot be finalized, developing an alternative permanent plan and placement for the child

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Louisiana

Citation: Children’s Code Art. 1243; 1243.2; 1252

A stepparent, stepgrandparent, great-grandparent, grandparent, or collaterals within the 12th degree may petition to adopt a child if all of the following elements are met:

·      The petitioner is related to the child by blood, adoption, or affinity through a parent recognized as having parental rights.

·      The petitioner is a single person older than age 18 or a married person whose spouse is a joint petitioner.

·      The petitioner has had legal or physical custody of the child for at least 6 months prior to filing the petition for adoption.

Upon the filing of a petition, the court immediately shall order:

·      That the local sheriff, State police, or Louisiana Bureau of Criminal Identification and Information conduct a fingerprint-based records check for all Federal and State arrests and convictions for each of the prospective adoptive parents

·      That the department conduct a records check for validated complaints of child abuse or neglect in this or any other State in which either of the prospective adoptive parents has been domiciled since becoming an adult

The department need not investigate a proposed intrafamily adoption except upon order of the court.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Louisiana

Citation: Children’s Code Art. 1610

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 for Adoption in Louisiana

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 46:286.13; Admin. Code § 67:V.7315

Foster parents have the right for first consideration as a placement option for a child previously placed in their home and for a child placed in their home who becomes available for adoption if a relative placement is not available.

In regulation: Adoption of a child by foster parent(s) shall be considered when:

·      The foster parent(s) are interested in adopting the child.

·      An assessment indicates that foster parent adoption is the most desirable permanent plan for the child.

·      The child has lived with the foster family for a period of time and the child and family have formed affectionate and healthy ties.

·      Removal and placement would be likely to cause lasting emotional damage to the child.

·      The foster parent(s) meet certification standards for adoptive homes.

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Maine

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Maine

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 18-A, § 9-304

The court shall request a background check for each prospective adoptive parent who is not the birth parent of the child.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in Maine

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 18-A, § 9-304

The department or a licensed child-placing agency will conduct a study and make a report to the court.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Maine

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 18-A, § 9-301

A husband and wife jointly or an unmarried person, resident or nonresident, may petition the court to adopt a person, regardless of age.

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Maine

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 18-A, § 9-304

The study must include an investigation of the conditions and antecedents of the child to determine whether the child is a proper subject for adoption and whether the proposed home is suitable for the child.

A background check must include a screening for child abuse cases in the records of the department and criminal history record information obtained from the Maine Criminal Justice Information System and the FBI. Each prospective parent who is not the birth parent of the child shall submit to having fingerprints taken.

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Maine

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 18-A, § 9-304

There is a rebuttable presumption that the petitioner would create a situation of jeopardy for the child if the adoption were granted and that the adoption is not in the best interests of the child if the court finds that the petitioner for the adoption of a minor child:

·      Has been convicted of an offense listed in title 19-A, § 1653(6-A)(A) [child-related sexual offense] in which at the time of the offense the victim was a minor and the petitioner was at least 5 years older than the minor, except that, if the offense was gross sexual assault and the minor victim submitted as a result of compulsion, the presumption applies regardless of the ages of the petitioner and the minor victim at the time of the offense

·      Has been adjudicated of sexually abusing a person who was a minor at the time of the abuse

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Maine

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 18-A, § 9-304

Upon the filing of a petition for adoption of a minor child, the court shall request a background check of the adopting family. The investigation must be completed and a report submitted to the court within 60 days.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Maine

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

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Maine

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 18-A, § 9-304

If the petitioner is a blood relative of the child, the court may waive the requirement of a study and report.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Maine

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 22, § 4255

Prior to sending a child to another State for placement, the public child-placing agency in the sending State shall provide a written request for assessment to the receiving State. Upon receipt of a request from the public child welfare agency of the sending State, the receiving State shall initiate an assessment of the proposed placement to determine its safety and suitability. If the proposed placement is a placement with a relative, the public child-placing agency of the sending State may request a determination of whether the placement qualifies as a provisional placement. The public child-placing agency in the receiving State may request from the child-placing agency in the sending State, and is entitled to receive, supporting or additional information necessary to complete the assessment.

Foster to Adopt Placements for Adoption in Maine

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

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Maryland

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Maryland

Citation: Code of Regs. § 07.02.12.10

The investigation shall include the applicant and all household members who are age 18 and older.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in Maryland

Citation: Code of Regs. § 07.02.12.10

The local department shall conduct the study.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Maryland

Citation: Code of Regs. §§ 07.02.12.08; 07.02.12.09; 07.02.12.10

The length of residence in Maryland is important only when it indicates that the family cannot provide a stable living environment for a child.

Adoptive parents shall be at least age 18. Additionally, the age of an adoptive parent shall be evaluated in relation to that of the child considered for placement, unless the local department finds that other factors outweigh the importance of age.

Married couples should have been married long enough to have made basic adjustments to each other and to have established a stable marital relationship. Verification of marriage is required. If single, the person shall have an adequate support system, and sufficient physical and emotional strength to undertake sole parental responsibility for a child.

When both parents work, the local department shall evaluate the specific employment situation and work schedule to determine the applicant’s ability to fulfill parental responsibilities.

Adoptive applicants shall provide medical reports to confirm that their physical and emotional health are not hazardous to a child and would not impair their ability to parent a child.

Home ownership is not required; however, the residence shall have adequate space for an additional family member

consistent with the safety and well-being of the total family.

Family members shall have achieved a sufficient degree of emotional maturity and stability to give them the capacity to meet responsibly the needs of an adopted child.

The adoptive family’s income shall be sufficient to meet the family’s needs. Actual income is not as important as the family’s capacity to manage sufficiently to meet current family needs, plus the expected needs of another family member or members.

The local department may not deny an individual the opportunity to become an adoptive parent based on race, color, or national origin of the prospective parent or the child involved.

All applicants shall complete 27 hours of preservice training.

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Maryland

Citation: Code of Regs. §§ 07.02.12.08; 07.02.12.09; 07.02.12.10

Each residence shall obtain a sanitary home approval and fire safety approval. If the home uses a local health department-approved water supply and sewage disposal, sanitary approval may be waived, if there is no question of an unusual health hazard. The residence shall meet the standards for general household safety requirements.

Adoptive applicants shall provide the names and addresses of three individuals as references, only one of whom may be a relative. The local department shall make face-to-face contact with at least two of the three references and request references from school personnel for school-aged children in the prospective adoptive family.

The home study shall consist of a minimum of four interviews. Married couples shall be seen separately for at least one interview to evaluate individual commitment and purpose in seeking a child through adoption. Individual interviews shall be conducted for each family member as appropriate to the situation and the age of the family member.

Before an adoptive home may be approved, an applicant and all household members age 18 and older shall apply for a criminal background investigation. In addition, the applicant and all household members age 18 and older shall consent to a child protective services clearance to determine if there is a prior indicated or unsubstantiated finding of abuse or neglect for any family or household member.

Before an adoptive home may be approved, the local department shall conduct a background check of child support arrearages on an applicant and consider any arrearage in determining approval or disapproval of the home.

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Maryland

Citation: Code of Regs. § 07.02.12.10

The local department may not approve or continue to approve as an adoptive home any home in which an adult in the household has been convicted of:

·      A crime, if the local department feels there is serious concern for a child’s safety

·      Any crime enumerated in 42 U.S.C. 671(a)(20)

The local department may not approve or continue to approve as an adoptive home any home in which an individual:

·      Refuses to consent to the child protective services clearance

·      Has an indicated child abuse or neglect finding

The director of the local department shall review unsubstantiated rulings related to any adult in the household to determine the possible risk to a child’s safety. Based on the findings, the local director may deny, suspend, or revoke adoptive home approval.

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Maryland

Citation: Code of Regs. § 07.02.12.10

The local department shall complete the home study within 90 calendar days, except when there are delays caused by crises, problems, or ambivalence in the family.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Maryland

Citation: Code of Regs. § 07.02.12.20

Postplacement services shall be provided to all children and families before the adoption is finalized to strengthen and support the family functioning and integration. The agency caseworker shall:

·      Visit the adoptive family as often as indicated, but at least three times during the first 6 months following placement

·      Use observations during the visits in determining the frequency of visits and the family’s readiness for finalization of the adoption

·       Include the child in these visits according to the child’s age and capability

The agency shall:

·      Provide evaluative, supportive, and educational services geared to adoptive family development with emphasis on the unique nature of adoption and its continuing impact on the parent-child relationship

·      Place special emphasis on the integrity and continuity of the child’s heritage and genetic histories as to the continuing growth and development of the child as an individual, and to the development of the family as an integrated unit

Once the family and the caseworker have determined that it is time to finalize the adoption, the caseworker shall:

·      Prepare the necessary documents to support the family’s finalization of the adoption

·      Acquire the local department director’s consent to the adoption

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Maryland

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

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Maryland

Citation: Fam. Law § 5-604

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 for Adoption in Maryland

Citation: Code of Regs. § 07.02.25.10

The intention in a legal risk adoptive home is that the family will adopt the child if guardianship is granted. Homes can be approved as solely legal risk adoptive homes. Characteristics of legal risk adoptive parents are the same as for regular foster parents. Placement in legal risk adoptive homes is made in an effort to facilitate permanent placement for children whose permanency planning goal is adoption.

Eligibility for approval as a legal risk adoptive home is the same as that for regular foster homes as outlined in these regulations, with the additional consideration for:

·      Families who have other children

·      Families who, in the home study, have been educated to understand as fully as possible what legal risk placement means

·      Foster families who have adopted other foster children or have helped other children return to their birth family

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Massachusetts

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Massachusetts

Citation: Code of Regs. Tit. 102, § 5.10

The study will include the applicants and all household members age 14 and older.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in Massachusetts

Citation: Code of Regs. Tit. 102, § 5.10

The assessment shall be completed by a social worker who meets the requirements of 102 CMR 5.05(2).

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Massachusetts

Citation: Ann. Laws. Ch. 210, § 1; Code of Regs. Tit. 102, § 5.10

Any adult or, jointly, husband and wife may petition to adopt a child.

In regulation: The physical requirements for adoptive homes include, but are not limited to, the following:

·      The home must be clean, safe, free of obvious fire and other hazards, and of sufficient size to accommodate comfortably and appropriately all members of the household and the approved number of adopted children.

·      The home shall have adequate lighting and ventilation, hot and cold water supply, plumbing, electricity, and heat.

·      The home shall have sufficient furniture to allow each child to sleep in a separate bed and to have adequate storage space for his or her personal belongings.

·      The home shall be equipped with smoke detectors in working order.

·      If the home uses well water, it shall be tested and determined safe.

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Massachusetts

Citation: Code of Regs. Tit. 102, § 5.10; Tit. 110, §§ 18.05; 18.08

The assessment shall include at least one meeting in the applicant’s home. The agency shall interview applicants individually at least once and as often as is necessary to determine the applicants’ qualifications to adopt a child. The agency shall interview all other members of the applicants’ household, as appropriate to the age of the member of the household.

The assessment shall be summarized in a written report and shall document he applicants’:

·      Motivation for adoption

·      Emotional stability and compatibility

·      Social, education, and health histories

·      Family composition, including pets

·      A description of the home, including sleeping areas

·      The family’s attitude toward accepting an adopted child

·      Parenting ability, including child rearing and discipline

·      Attitude toward the birth parents of the child

·      Characteristics of children desired, including age, sex, abilities or disabilities, behavior, and characteristics of children parents are not willing to adopt

·      At least three written references

·      A written statement from a licensed physician regarding the health of each member of the household

·      Evidence of birth certificates, marriage certificates, and/or divorce decrees

·      Financial ability to care for an adopted child

·      Ability to meet the physical, developmental, emotional, and educational needs of a child

Prospective preadoptive parents will be required to disclose whether or not he or she has a criminal record, including the crimes charged and the disposition of the charge. The department shall conduct a Criminal Offenders Record

Information (CORI) investigation of any household member age 14 or older during the initial home study of the preadoptive home.

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Massachusetts

Citation: Code of Regs. Tit. 102, § 5.10; Tit. 110, § 18.10

The agency shall determine that each applicant and each adult household member has a background free of conduct that bears adversely upon his or her ability to provide for the safety and well-being of children. In making this determination, the agency shall consider whether the applicant:

·      Engages in or has engaged in conduct that results in his or her child being adjudicated in need of care and protection

·      Uses alcohol or drugs to an extent that impairs his or her ability to care for children properly

·      Has engaged in conduct that resulted in a CORI report or has engaged in any other conduct, criminal or otherwise, that impairs the individual’s ability to care for children

A CORI report shall consist of arrests, pending criminal charges, or criminal charges that have been finally disposed of for any offense involving sexual or physical abuse, any offense involving children, and violent or drug-related crimes, including driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A CORI report shall also consist of the report of a restraining order, violations of such restraining orders and other arrests, pending charges, or findings relative to abuse of adult or child family members.

An applicant shall not be approved for an adoptive placement when, after a review of the CORI record, the agency concludes that the applicant’s home poses an unacceptable risk to the safety and well-being of the child.

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Massachusetts

Citation: Code of Regs. Tit. 102, § 5.10

The licensed agency, consistent with its current needs, shall evaluate adoptive parent applicants promptly.

If a placement does not occur within 12 months of approval of the adoptive parent, the agency may perform a limited foster or adoptive parent assessment. A limited adoptive parent assessment shall be a review of the previous assessment and verification that such information remains current.

The agency shall notify each adoptive parent applicant in writing of the results of the assessment within 1 month of the last visit to the applicant.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Massachusetts

Citation: Code of Regs. Tit. 102, § 5.10

The agency shall assign a social worker who will be responsible for providing direct services to the adoptive family until the adoption is finalized. The social worker shall assist the adoptive parents and the child with any adoption-related matters and shall make monthly supervisory contacts with the adoptive parents, beginning no later than 2 weeks after placement, and continuing until the adoption decree is entered. Beginning no later than 6 weeks after placement, such contacts shall be face-to-face at least every other month. At least two contacts shall be in the adoptive parent home with the child and parents. In addition, the social worker shall:

·      Inform the adoptive parents in writing of any postponement of the legalization of the adoption, the reasons for such postponement, the actions that the agency determines are needed to remedy such postponement, and the timeframes within which such actions must be taken

·      Provide updated medical and/or psychological information regarding the birth family, including relevant information about siblings

·      Assist the adoptive parents and the child in obtaining any needed services

·      Inform the adoptive parents of their right to update the information in their case record at the agency at any time

·      Document in case notes in adoptive family records all contacts with children and adoptive families

·      Assist the adoptive parents in maintaining, when appropriate, contact with siblings and providing support services for older sibling groups

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Massachusetts

Citation: Code of Regs. Tit. 110, § 18.10

In the case of an individual seeking to serve as a preadoptive kinship placement for a child in the care or custody of

Department of Social Services, the department shall not be precluded from placing the child in a kinship home if the Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner for Field Operations, and General Counsel have conducted a review of the CORI record pursuant to 110 CMR 18.11(9) and determined the placement is in the best interests of the child.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Massachusetts

Citation: Code of Regs. Tit. 102, § 5.08

No agency shall place a child outside the Commonwealth unless the adoptive home is approved and supervised by a licensed or otherwise legally authorized agency.

Foster to Adopt Placements for Adoption in Massachusetts

Citation: Code of Regs. Tit. 102, § 5.08

Whenever a foster child is freed for adoption, the agency shall notify the foster parents in writing. The agency shall consider the child’s foster parents as potential adoptive parents if the child has been in their care for 6 months, provided that the foster parents notify the agency of their desire to adopt within 2 weeks after they are notified of the child’s release.

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Michigan

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Michigan

Citation: Comp. Laws § 710.23f

In a direct placement, an individual seeking to adopt must undergo a preplacement assessment.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in Michigan

Citation: Comp. Laws § 710.23f

The preplacement assessment shall be prepared by a child-placing agency.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Michigan

Citation: Comp. Laws § 710.22

An individual is considered to be suitable to be a parent of n adopted child when there is no specific concern that placement of any child, or a particular child, in the home of the individual would pose a risk of harm to the physical or psychological well-being of the child.

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Michigan

Citation: Comp. Laws § 710.23f

A preplacement assessment is based upon personal interviews and visits at the residence of the individual being assessed, interviews of others who know the individual, and reports received under this subsection. The assessment shall contain all of the following information about the individual being assessed:

·      Age, nationality, race, ethnicity, and any religious preference

·      Marital and family status and history

·      Physical and mental health, including any history of substance abuse

·      Education and employment history and any special skills and interests

·      Property and income, including outstanding financial obligations

·      Reason for wanting to adopt

·      Whether the individual has ever been the respondent in a domestic violence proceeding or a proceeding concerning a child who was allegedly abused, dependent, deprived, neglected, abandoned, or delinquent, and the outcome of the proceeding

·      Whether the individual has ever been convicted of a crime

·      Any fact or circumstance that raises a specific concern about the suitability of the individual as an adoptive parent

The applicant must submit:

·      A document from the Michigan State police and the FBI describing all of the individual’s criminal convictions or stating that the agency’s records indicate that the individual has not been convicted of a crime

·      The results of a physical examination that indicates that the individual is free from any known condition that would affect his or her ability to care for an adopted child

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Michigan

Citation: Comp. Laws §§ 710.23f; 710.22a

If the child-placing agency determines that the information in the preplacement assessment raises a specific concern, the child-placing agency shall find that the individual is not suitable to be an adoptive parent. The conclusion shall be supported by a written account of how one or more specific concerns pose a risk to the physical or psychological wellbeing of any child or a particular child.

A child shall not be placed with a prospective adoptive parent and an adoption order shall not be issued if a person authorized to place the child or the court authorized to issue the order has reliable information that the prospective adoptive parent has been convicted of any of the following:

·      Soliciting a child for an immoral purpose or child sexual exploitation

·      Criminal sexual conduct

·      A law of another State substantially similar to any of the above

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Michigan

Citation: Admin. Code R 400.12708

An agency shall have on file a written adoption evaluation and agency recommendation before approving the adoptive parents for each adoptive placement and before referring a child to, or placing a child in, the home for purposes of adoption.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Michigan

Citation: Comp. Laws §§ 710.46; 710.52; Admin. Code R 400.12711

Upon the filing of an adoption petition, the court shall direct a full investigation by an employee or agent of the court, a child-placing agency, or the department. The court may use the preplacement assessment and may order an additional investigation by an employee or agent of the court or a child-placing agency. The following shall be considered in the investigation:

·      The best interests of the adopted child

·      The adopted child’s family background, including names and identifying data regarding the parent or parents, if obtainable

·      The reasons for the child’s placement away from his or her parent or parents

A written report of the investigation shall be filed within 3 months after the order for investigation.

During the period before entry of the order of adoption, the child shall be supervised at the direction of the court by an employee or agent of the court, a child-placing agency, or the department, who shall make reports regarding the adjustment of the child in the home. The investigations shall be made under reasonable circumstances and at reasonable intervals.

In a direct placement, the child shall be supervised during the period before entry of the order of adoption by the childplacing agency that investigated the placement or, in the court’s discretion, by another child-placing agency.

In regulation: An agency shall provide postplacement supervision for the adoptive family at the adoptive parent(s)’ home as needed, but not less than once every 3 months, after the placement of a child and until the final order of adoption.

The agency shall:

·      Assess and record the child’s and adoptive family’s adjustment and, where needed, include plans to assist the child or adoptive family

·      Keep the adoptive parents informed of the results of the agency’s continuing assessment of the placement at the conclusion of each visit

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Michigan

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

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Michigan

Citation: Comp. Laws § 3.711

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 for Adoption in Michigan

Citation: Comp. Laws § 710.46

If the child being adopted has been placed for foster care with the petitioner for 12 months or longer and the foster family study was completed or updated not more than 12 months before the petition was filed, the court, upon motion by the petitioner, may waive the full investigation required by this section. The foster family study, with information added as necessary to update or supplement the original study, may be substituted for the written report.

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Minnesota

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Minnesota

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 259.41

The background study must be completed on each person older than age 13 living in the home. The required background study must be completed as part of the home study.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in Minnesota

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 259.41

The study and report shall be completed by a licensed child-placing agency and must be thorough and comprehensive.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Minnesota

Citation: Admin. Code R. 9560.0140

When determining the suitability of prospective adoptive parents, the child-placing agency shall consider at a minimum the following:

·      The applicant shall be motivated to meet the child’s needs, emotionally mature with healthy interpersonal relationships, in good physical and mental health, and able to adequately support and parent a child in a healthy and emotionally secure environment.

·      The applicant shall have the capacity to accept and incorporate into the family a child born to other parents and to assist the child in understanding the child’s genetic background and adoption.

·      The applicant must not be delayed or denied the opportunity to adopt based on the race, color, or national origin of the applicant or the child involved.

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Minnesota

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 259.41; 245C.33

The adoption study must include at least one in-home visit with the prospective adoptive parent. At a minimum, the study must document the following information about the prospective adoptive parent:

·      A background study that includes:

» An assessment of the data and information provided by § 245C.33(4) to determine if the prospective adoptive parent and any other person older than age 13 living in the home has a felony conviction consistent with 42

U.S.C. § 671(a)(2)

» An assessment of the effect of any conviction or finding of substantiated maltreatment on the capacity of the prospective adoptive parent to safely care for and parent a child

·      A medical and social history and assessment of current health

·      An assessment of potential parenting skills

·      An assessment of ability to provide adequate financial support for a child

·      An assessment of the level of knowledge and awareness of adoption issues including, where appropriate, matters relating to interracial, cross-cultural, and special needs adoptions

The adoption study is the basis for completion of a written report. The report must be in a format specified by the commissioner and must contain recommendations regarding the suitability of the subject of the study to be an adoptive parent.

The commissioner shall review the following information regarding the background study subject:

·      Information from the child abuse and neglect registry for any State in which the subject has resided for the past 5 years

·      Information from State and national crime information databases

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Minnesota

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 259.41

A home study must not be approved if a background study reveals a felony conviction at any time for:

·      Child abuse or neglect

·      Spousal abuse

·      A crime against children, including child pornography

·      A crime involving violence, including rape, sexual assault, or homicide, but not including other physical assault or battery

A home study must not be approved if a background study reveals a felony conviction within the past 5 years for physical assault or battery or a drug-related offense.

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Minnesota

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 259.41

An approved adoption study, completed background study, and written report must be completed before the child is placed in a prospective adoptive home. In an agency placement, the report must be filed with the court at the time the adoption petition is filed. In a direct adoptive placement, the report must be filed with the court in support of a motion for temporary preadoptive custody.

An agency may update an adoption study and report as needed, regardless of when the original study and report or most recent update was completed. An adoption study is valid if the report has been completed or updated within the previous 12 months.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Minnesota

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 259.53

Upon the filing of a petition for adoption, the court shall immediately refer the petition to an agency for completion of a postplacement assessment and report.

The agency to which the petition has been referred shall conduct a postplacement assessment and file a report with the court within 90 days of receipt of a copy of the adoption petition. The assessment and report must evaluate the environment and antecedents of the child to be adopted, the home of the petitioners, and whether placement with the petitioners meets the needs of the child. The report must include a recommendation to the court as to whether the petition should or should not be granted.

In making evaluations and recommendations, the postplacement assessment and report must at least address the following:

·      The level of adaptation by the prospective adoptive parents to parenting the child

·      The health and well-being of the child in the prospective adoptive parents’ home

·      The level of incorporation by the child into the prospective adoptive parents’ home, extended family, and community

·      The level of inclusion of the child’s previous history into the prospective adoptive home, such as cultural or ethnic practices, or contact with former foster parents or biological relatives

No petition shall be granted until the child has lived for 3 months in the proposed home, subject to a right of visitation by the commissioner or an agency or their authorized representatives.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Minnesota

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 259.41; 259.53

Placement for adoption with an individual who is related to the child is subject to a background study. In the case of a stepparent adoption, a background study must be completed on the stepparent and any children, except that a child of the stepparent does not need to have a background study completed if he or she is a sibling through birth or adoption of the person being adopted.

The required investigation and period of residence may be waived by the court when the petition for adoption is submitted by a stepparent.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Minnesota

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 260.851; Admin. Code R. 9560.0150

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.

In regulation: No child may be brought into or sent out of Minnesota for adoptive placement into a nonrelative’s home unless one of the following conditions is met:

·      The commissioner, as State administrator of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, issues written approval for the importation or exportation pursuant to the requirements of that compact.

·      The commissioner has, in situations that do not involve the compact, issued a written consent to importation or exportation of the child, pursuant to applicable State law.

The commissioner shall not issue consent or approval for the movement of a child across State lines if the proposed placement is planned or made by an unlicensed third party.

The commissioner, upon receipt of all required documentation, shall issue consent or approval for importation when:

·      An authorized child-placing agency in the sending State has adoptive planning rights to the child and requests the importation into Minnesota.

·      A family plans to move to Minnesota and has a child placed with them according to the laws of the other State.

The documents required for the commissioner’s consent and approval are:

·      An authorized child-placing agency’s written confirmation that the family is approved for adoptive placement

·      A document that identifies the child, the child’s birth date, birthplace, and parentage

·      Legal documents that demonstrate that the child has been properly released for adoption

Foster to Adopt Placements for Adoption in Minnesota

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 259.41

In the case of a licensed foster parent seeking to adopt a child who is in the foster parent(s)’ care, any portions of the foster care licensing process that duplicate requirements of the adoption home study may be submitted in satisfaction of the relevant requirements of this section.

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Mississippi

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Mississippi

Citation: Code of Rules 11-111-001

All applicants for adoption must complete the home study process before a child is placed in their home.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in Mississippi

Citation: Code of Rules 11-111-001

An adoption specialist with the Adoption Unit of the Division of Family and Children’s Services, Mississippi Department of

Human Services, is responsible for making an adoptive home study under the supervision of the adoption administrator.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Mississippi

Citation: Code of Rules 11-111-001

The general requirements for adoptive applicants include the following:

·      Only applicants living in the State will be accepted, unless the family in another State goes through the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

·      Applicants for adoption, including both the husband and the wife if the application is from a couple, must be at least age 21. The agency considers:

» Applicants age 40 and younger for an infant

» Applicants age 45 and younger for a child between 2 and 6

» Applicants age 45 and older for a child 6 and older

·      Married couples shall have a legal marriage of 2 years in duration. An application from a single person will be accepted. Unmarried couples may not adopt per State statutes.

·      The family should have sufficient income to meet their needs and in some cases those of the child to be adopted if the child is not eligible for any type of assistance.

·      The home and neighborhood should provide adequate space and living conditions necessary to promote health, safety, and well-being for the family.

» Each child placed for adoption must have his/her own bed. Children in adoptive placement may not share a bedroom with an adult or with children of the opposite sex.

» The house must have at least one smoke detector located near the bedrooms. There must be at least one 5-lb. fire extinguisher, located near entrance and exit doors, which is readily visible. The house must be equipped with telephone service.

» Water and sewage systems not connected to an approved city or community service must be approved by the Health Department. Outdoor toilets are not acceptable

·      The applicants must verify that they are healthy enough to care for a child.

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Mississippi

Citation: Code of Rules 11-111-001

The purpose of a home study is:

·      To determine with the applicants whether they are capable of becoming parents who can meet the needs of an adoptive child

·      To consider what kind of child can benefit from their home

·      To prepare the applicants for adoption and help them to anticipate the special needs of an adopted child

·      To prepare the applicants for the demands inherent in parenthood with emphasis on adoptive parenthood

·      For the adoption worker to observe and note evidence of the applicants’ flexibility and capacity to grow and develop as prospective parents during the adoptive home study process

All applicants are expected to complete a group preparation process that consists of a series of training sessions. The applicants will each write their own Life Story using an outline provided by the adoption worker. The Life Stories are to be submitted with the completed applicant forms to the adoption worker and should be used as a basis of discussion in the individual interviews.

Each prospective adoptive parent must disclose any criminal record or alleged criminal activity by signing a disclosure form. A routine check with the local law enforcement agencies (both city and county) in the current as well as the last place of residence will be a part of the adoption study. A required check against the Child Abuse Central Registry is completed. Reference contacts with the following are required:

·      The current employer and previous employers within the past 5 years

·      Four character references, three of which cannot be related

·      The child abuse central registry

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Mississippi

Citation: Code of Rules 11-111-001

The agency will postpone or withdraw from the adoption home study under any of the following circumstances:

·      Adoptive applicant’s pregnancy

·      Acceptance of a child for adoption by adoptive parents from another source

·      Serious health problem of any family member

·      Marital separation or divorce

·      Failure to provide significant factual information requested on agency forms (e.g., prior marriages and divorces)

·      Any factor that appears to indicate possible inability to parent a child appropriately, including, but not limited to, an unfavorable reference or financial limitations

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in MInnesota

Citation: Code of Rules 11-111-001

The application process including the home study shall be completed within 90 days of the initial date of the application.

Studies must be kept up to date at all times through recording after each visit with the family. An update of the adoption study should be completed biannually by the adoption specialist.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Minnesota

Citation: Code of Rules 11-111-001

A minimum of 6 months of supervision is required for each agency placement. This may be all the time that is necessary for an infant placement. However, the supervisory period will be determined by the adjustment of the child to the new family environment. The 6 months may be shortened if appropriate or lengthened if needed to stabilize the placement.

The adoptive family will also be required to attend adoption support group meetings before placement and after for continued postadoptive support.

During the 6-month supervisory period, the adoption specialist will make the following visits:

·      One visit within 2 weeks of the placement

·      A minimum of one visit each of the next 3 months

·      One visit at the end of the 6-month period

The specialist will submit a report of each supervisory visit to the adoption program administrator for the county of responsibility.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Mississippi

Citation: Ann. Code § 93-17-13; Code of Rules 11-111-001

The 6-month period of postplacement supervision is not required when a child is a stepchild of a petitioner or is related by blood to the petitioner within the third degree.

In regulation: Waivers for the age requirements for adoptive applicants are considered for foster parents and relative adoption applicants.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Mississippi

Citation: Ann. Code § 43-18-1

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 for Adoption in Mississippi

Citation: Code of Rules 11-111-001

A foster/adopt home shall be offered only for children whose goal or concurrent plan is adoption. This shall include, but not be limited to, abandoned children, children who are in the process of being freed for adoption, and any child designated as a legal risk placement. A foster/adopt home shall care for the number of children according to the capacity and terms of the foster home license. At any given time there shall be no more than six children residing in the home younger than age 18. The foster/adopt family shall have completed application requirements for adoption to be eligible to apply for license as a foster/adopt family. A foster/adopt family shall receive payments based on the regular per diem board rates as related to the child’s age and special needs. The licensing specialist and social worker shall maintain at least monthly face-to-face supervisory contacts with the child and the foster/adopt family while the child is in placement. The foster/adopt home shall be reevaluated every 24 months as required by the licensing authority. Foster parent training requirements apply.

Foster/adopt parents will be trained in concurrent permanency planning and must be willing and capable of working with birth parents if this is part of the concurrent plan. If reunification does not occur, they must be committed to providing a permanent home for the child.

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Missouri

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Missouri

Citation: Code of Regs. Tit. 13, § 40-73.080

The adoption home study must include all members of the applicants’ household.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in Missouri

Citation: Code of Regs. Tit. 13, § 40-73.080

The adoption home study may be completed by a child-placing agency or adoption intermediary.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Missouri

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

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Missouri

Citation: Code of Regs. Tit. 13, § 40-73.080

The family assessment process shall include:

·      Confidential interviews with the applicants and all members of the applicants’ household, as age appropriate

·      A visit to the residence of the applicants that includes a complete inspection of the home

·      A minimum of at least two separate visits on nonconsecutive days

A social history on each applicant that shall include:

·      A description of the applicant’s family of origin, including type of family structure, values, child rearing, relationships past and present, and discipline methods

·      Education and occupational history including current employment

·      Marital history and current relationships

·      Interests and hobbies

·      Physical and mental health history including psychiatric treatment, if any, and extent of alcohol and drug use

·      The applicant’s emotional stability and maturity

·      Religious beliefs and practices

·      Parenting background including motivation to adopt

·      Location and description of physical residence, including type of community and school district available

·      Financial status and management

Supplemental documentation shall include:

·      At least four reference letters, including one employment-related reference per applicant from one who has worked with the person within the past 5 years, one relative, and one nonrelated personal reference

·      A child abuse and neglect background screening check that is no more than 6 months old

·      Criminal arrest and conviction records from a State law enforcement agency that are no more than 6 months old

·      Written medical reports on all adult members of the household that are no more than 12 months old

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Missouri

Citation: Code of Regs. Tit. 13, § 40-59.030

Information obtained from the criminal background and central registry checks regarding harmful acts to a child is provided to local division staff who are completing the home study. Findings of harmful acts do not automatically preclude approval. The relevance of the findings to child-caring responsibilities will be determined by division staff.

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Missouri

Citation: Code of Regs. Tit. 13, § 40-73.080

Adoptive family assessments shall be updated annually. An update also shall be completed if there is a significant change in the family situation. Updates shall include:

·      One or more interviews with all members of the family

·      Medical reports on all household members biennially unless otherwise indicated

·      Child abuse/neglect reports on all adults completed within the past 30 days

·      Arrest record check completed within the past 30 days

·      Evaluation of any previous placements

·      A summary of additional children to be adopted

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Missouri

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 453.077; Code of Regs. Tit. 13, § 40-73.080

When a child has been placed with the petitioner for the required 6-month placement period, the person conducting the preplacement assessment shall provide the court with a postplacement assessment. The postplacement assessment shall include an update of the preplacement assessment that was submitted to the court and a report on the emotional, physical, and psychological status of the child.

In regulation: A child-placing agency shall maintain contact with the family during the supervision period. For children younger than age 3, the agency shall:

·      Conduct quarterly home visits until the adoption is final

·      Conduct monthly telephone contacts between home visits

·      Receive regular written reports from the child’s pediatrician

For children age 3 or older or children with special needs, the agency shall:

·      Conduct one home visit within the first 10 days of placement, then, at a minimum, quarterly until the adoption is finalized

·      Conduct monthly telephone contacts between home visits

·      Receive regular written reports from the child’s pediatrician

The agency shall document in the child’s record that all members of the adoptive family’s household, including the adoptive child, were interviewed during supervision and that the following issues were discussed:

·      How the addition of this child into the family has changed marital and sibling relationships and how extended family and friends have reacted to the adoption

·      What role each family member has assumed in child care

·      How parents have coped with adjustments, additional responsibilities, discipline, physical, psychological, emotional, and financial stresses

·      How the family is imparting knowledge of the child’s history, as age appropriate

·      The child’s adjustment, including health, school, and family

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Missouri

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 453.070

In cases where the adoption involves a child younger than age 18 that is the natural child of one of the petitioners, the court may waive the investigation and report, except the criminal background check.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Missouri

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 210.620; 210.622

Prior to sending a child to a receiving State, the public child-placing agency shall submit a written request for assessment to the receiving State. The assessment shall evaluate the prospective placement to determine whether the placement meets the individualized needs of the child, including, but not limited to, the child’s safety and stability; health and wellbeing; and mental, emotional, and physical development.

Upon receipt of a request from the public child welfare agency of the sending State, the receiving State shall initiate an assessment of the proposed placement to determine its safety and suitability. If the proposed placement is a placement with a relative, the public child-placing agency of the sending State may request a determination of whether the placement qualifies as a provisional placement.

The public child-placing agency in the receiving State may request from the public or private child-placing agency in the sending State and shall be entitled to receive supporting or additional information necessary to complete the assessment.

The public child-placing agency in the receiving State shall complete or arrange for the completion of the assessment within the timeframes established by the rules of the Interstate Commission.

Notwithstanding the provisions above, the division may enter into an agreement with a similar agency in any State adjoining Missouri that provides for the emergency placement of abused or neglected children across State lines, without the prior approval required by the interstate compact. A request for approval shall be initiated if the placement extends beyond 30 days

Foster to Adopt Placements for Adoption in Missouri

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 210.566; 453.070

If a child becomes free for adoption while in foster care, the child’s foster family shall be given preferential consideration as adoptive parents.

Any adult person or persons age 18 or older, who, as foster parent or parents, have cared for a foster child continuously for a period of 9 months or more, and bonding has occurred as evidenced by the positive emotional and physical interaction between the foster parent and child, may apply for the placement of the child with them for the purpose of adoption if the child is eligible for adoption. The agency and court shall give preference and first consideration for adoptive placements to foster parents. However, the final determination of the propriety of the adoption of such foster child shall be within the sole discretion of the court.

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Montana

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Montana

Citation: Ann. Code § 42-3-202

The prospective adoptive parent and the home of the prospective adoptive parent must be studied and evaluated.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in Montana

Citation: Ann. Code § 42-3-202

A prospective adoptive parent may request a preplacement evaluation from the department, a licensed social worker, or a licensed child-placing agency. In a direct parental placement adoption, the preplacement evaluation must be conducted by either a licensed social worker or a licensed child-placing agency.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Montana

Citation: Ann. Code § 42-1-106; Admin. Rules R. 37.52.104

A husband and wife jointly or an unmarried individual who is at least age 18 may be eligible to adopt a child.

In regulation: The department will not accept adoptive applicants who have current applications before any other licensed adoption agency. The department decides whether applicants will be studied and whether children will be placed. The department may limit adoptive intake according to the number and type of children available for adoption.

Adoptive applicants must:

·      Submit to the department a physical examination report as part of the adoption application

·      Have sufficient income to provide for an additional child or children

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Montana

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 42-3-203; 42-3-204

A preplacement evaluation must include a review of the following:

·      A check of criminal conviction data, data on substantiated abuse or neglect of a child, and data pertaining to any involvement in incidents of domestic violence

·      Medical and social history and current health

·      An assessment of potential parenting skills

·      Ability to provide adequate financial support for a child

·      The level of knowledge and awareness of adoption issues, including, when appropriate, matters relating to open, interracial, cross-cultural, and special needs adoptions

·      A check of the youth court records of any person living in the prospective home

The preplacement evaluation must include at least one in-home visit with the prospective adoptive parent and at least one interview with each family member.

The preplacement evaluation report must contain the following information if available:

·      Age, nationality, racial or ethnic background, and any religious affiliation

·      Marital status and family history

·      Physical and mental health and any history of abuse of alcohol or drugs

·      Education and employment history and any special skills

·      Property and income, including outstanding financial obligations

·      Whether the individual has been charged with or convicted of domestic violence or has been involved in a substantiated charge of child abuse or neglect or elder abuse or neglect and the disposition of the charges

·      Whether the individual is subject to a court order restricting the individual’s right to custody or visitation with a child

·      Whether the individual has been convicted of a crime other than a minor traffic violation

·      The quality of the environment in the individual’s home and the functioning of other children in the individual’s household

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Montana

Citation: Ann. Code § 42-3-205

An evaluator shall assess the information required for the home study to determine if it raises a specific concern that placement of any child or a particular child in the home of the individual would pose a significant risk of harm to the physical or psychological well-being of the child. If an evaluator determines that the information raises a specific concern, the evaluator, based on the original or any further investigation, shall find that the individual is or is not suited to be an adoptive parent. The evaluator shall support the finding with a written explanation.

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Montana

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 42-3-201; 42-3-204

A child may not be placed for purposes of adoption unless the person with whom a child is proposed to be placed has had a preplacement evaluation completed to determine fitness and readiness as an adoptive parent.

A preplacement evaluation is valid for 1 year following its date of completion and must be updated if there is a significant change in circumstances.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Montana

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 42-4-112; 42-4-113; 42-4-205; 42-4-209

In a direct parental placement adoption, the court shall order a 6-month postplacement supervision and a postplacement evaluation. The postplacement evaluation period must be supervised and evaluated by a licensed social worker or other qualified person.

An evaluation must be based on a personal interview with the prospective adoptive parent in his or her home and an observation of the relationship between the child and the adoptive parent. At a minimum, the evaluation must include the following information:

·      An assessment of adaptation by the adoptive parent to parenting the child

·      An assessment of the health and well-being of the child

·      The level of incorporation by the child into the adoptive parent(s)’ home

·      An account of any change in the adoptive parent(s)’ marital status or family history, physical or mental health, home environment, property, income, or financial obligations since the filing of the preplacement evaluation

The evaluation must contain a definite recommendation stating the reasons for or against the proposed adoption.

For a department or agency placement, the department or agency shall supervise and evaluate the placement during a 6-month postplacement evaluation period. The evaluation must include the following information:

·      Whether the child is legally free for adoption

·      Whether the proposed home is suitable for the child

·      A statement that the medical and social histories of the birth parents and child have been provided to the adoptive parent

·      An assessment of adaptation by the adoptive parent to parenting the child

The evaluation must contain a definite recommendation stating the reasons for or against the proposed adoption.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Montana

Citation: Ann. Code § 42-4-309

In a stepparent adoption, if the court is satisfied that the adoption is in the best interests of the child, the court may waive the requirement of a preplacement evaluation and the 6-month postplacement evaluation and report and grant a decree of adoption.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Montana

Citation: Ann. Code § 41-4-101

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 for Adoption in Montana

Citation: Ann. Code § 42-4-113

The department or an agency may recommend the waiver of the 6-month postplacement evaluation period and the postplacement evaluation if the child being adopted has been in the petitioner’s home as a foster child for at least 1 year.

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Nebraska

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Nebraska

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 390, § 7-001.06

The applicants, their children, and other persons living in the home shall be included in the study.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in Nebraska

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 43-107

The study must be completed by the Department of Health and Human Services or a licensed child-placing agency.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Nebraska

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 390, § 7-001.06

Applicants for providing adoptive care must meet at least the following requirements:

·      The applicant must be at least age 19. Generally, at least one parent should be within the normal childbearing age for the child to be placed.

·      An applicant must be in such physical and mental condition that it is reasonable to expect him or her to be able to fulfill parenting responsibilities. If there appears to be a health condition that might affect parenting ability, a medical report may be requested.

·      The application of all persons will be considered regardless of race, gender, ethnic group, or religion.

·      The applicant must be able to budget his or her financial resources in such a way that a child placed can be reasonably assured of minimum standards of nutrition, health, shelter, clothing, and other essentials.

·      Applicants must be willing to consider accepting children in the department’s custody or likely to enter the department’s custody.

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Nebraska

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 43-107; Admin. Code Tit. 390, § 7-001.06

The preplacement or postplacement adoptive home study shall be performed as prescribed in rules and regulations of the department and shall include at a minimum an examination into the facts relating to the petitioner or petitioners as may be relevant to the propriety of such adoption. The rules and regulations shall require an adoptive home study to include a national criminal history records check and a check of the central register for any history of the petitioner or petitioners of behavior injurious to or that may endanger the health or morals of a child.

In regulation: The department will assess all persons who are interested in becoming adoptive parents. This process includes:

·      Home visits

·      Interviews with all the applicants, their children, and other persons living in the home

·      A written home study, using the department’s format

·      A self-study completed by the applicants

·      References from three persons

·      Background checks with the Adult Protective Services Central Registry and the Central Register of Child Protection Cases

·      A criminal records check

·      A medical summary for each family member

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Nebraska

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 390, § 7-001.06

A negative medical report may be the basis for denial of an application at any point in the home study process.

The department will consider all the information and take into consideration the needs of the children in the department’s custody to determine whether a family should become an adoptive family. The home study will include the recommendation.

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Nebraska

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 43-107

For adoption placements occurring on or after January 1, 1994, a preplacement adoptive home study shall be filed with the court prior to the hearing on the adoption petition. The study must have been completed within 1 year before the date on which the child being adopted is placed with the petitioner.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Nebraska

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 390, § 6-002.08

Postplacement services are provided before the finalization of adoption. Those services include supervision through regular family contact, home visits with both parents, visits alone with the child, and contact with other persons living in the home. A minimum of 6 months of postplacement supervision is provided. For a special needs child 1 year is recommended.

The department also will provide family-centered support services to:

·      Assist the family with the integration of the child into the family and the creation of a new family unit

·      Provide assessment of progress and the need for other services

·      Help the family plan for services the family will desire after finalization

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Nebraska

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 43-107

An adoptive home study shall not be required when the petitioner is a stepparent of the child being adopted unless required by the court, except that for petitions filed on or after January 1, 1994, the judge shall order the petitioner to request the Nebraska State Patrol to file a national criminal history record information check and to request the department to conduct a check of the central register for any history of the petitioner of behavior injurious to or that may endanger the health or morals of a child. An adoption decree shall not be issued until such records are on file with the court.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Nebraska

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 43-1103; Admin. Code Tit. 390, § 9-001A

Prior to sending a child to a receiving State, the public child-placing agency shall submit a written request for assessment to the receiving State. The sending State and the receiving State may request additional information or documents prior to finalization of an approved placement.

Upon receipt of a request from the public child-placing agency of the sending State, the receiving State shall initiate an assessment of the proposed placement to determine its safety and suitability. If the proposed placement is a placement with a relative, the public child-placing agency of the sending State may request a determination for a provisional placement.

The public child-placing agency in the receiving State shall approve a provisional placement and complete or arrange for the completion of the assessment within the timeframes established by the rules of the Interstate Commission.

In regulation: No child will be placed from Nebraska into another State or from another State into Nebraska until:

·      A home study or adoptive study is completed

·      Approval to place is granted from the Interstate Compact Administrators in each State

Foster to Adopt Placements for Adoption in Nebraska

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 43-107

A foster parent who later petitions the court to adopt his or her foster child shall be exempt from the requirements of a preplacement adoptive home study. The petitioner or petitioners shall have a postplacement adoptive home study completed by the department or a licensed child-placing agency and filed with the court at least 1 week prior to the hearing for adoption.

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Nevada

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Nevada

Citation: Admin. Code §§ 127.235; 127.395

The applicants for adoption and any member of the applicants’ household who is age 18 and older must be included in the study.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in Nevada

Citation: Admin. Code §§ 127.235; 127.395

The study may be conducted by either a child-placing agency or an agency that provides child welfare services.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Nevada

Citation: Admin. Code §§ 127.239; 127.240; 127.415; 127.420

The agency shall select an adoptive home for a child based on the ability of the members of that home to meet the needs of that child. To be approved as a prospective adoptive parent, the applicant must demonstrate his or her capacity to be a parent and to meet the needs of an adopted child, including his or her ability to:

·      Provide the child with conditions and opportunities to promote the healthy personality growth and development of the potential of the child

·      Assume responsibility for the safety, care, support, education, and character development of the child

·      Offer a reasonably happy and secure family life with love, understanding, guidance, and companionship

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Nevada

Citation: Admin. Code §§ 127.235; 127.395

A person who wishes to have his or her home studied for the purpose of adoption must:

·      Make a written application

·      Submit a copy of his or her fingerprints

·      Sign a release of information

·      Cooperate with the agency by providing other information as necessary to evaluate the home

Upon receiving an application, the agency shall evaluate the applicant to determine his or her suitability for becoming an adoptive parent. Such an evaluation must include:

·      An interview and assessment of the applicant(s)

·      An assessment that must include, without limitation, an inquiry into any factor that the caseworker determines is necessary to assess the ability of the applicant to meet the needs of the adopted child

·      A visit to and assessment of the home of the applicant, including a fire and safety inspection

·      A request for and review of any reports and investigations regarding the abuse or neglect of a child by the applicant or any member of the applicant’s household who is age 18 or older

·      A request for and review of any information concerning the applicant and any member of the applicant’s household who is age 18 or older maintained by local law enforcement agencies

·      A request for and review of any State and Federal records of criminal history regarding the applicant and any member of the applicant’s household who is age 18 or older

·      The receipt and review of at least five satisfactory references from persons who have known the applicant for no less than 2 years; no more than two of the references may be from family members

·      A medical examination of the applicant and each member of his or her household

·      Verification of the marital status of the applicant, including the review of any applicable records regarding marriage, divorce, and the death of a spouse

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Nevada

Citation: Admin. Code §§ 127.240; 127.420

An application to adopt must be denied if:

·      The applicant has submitted false information or has withheld relevant information.

·      The applicant refuses or fails to provide information requested by the agency.

·      Two persons who are applying to adopt a child jointly are not legally married to each other.

·      The marriage of two persons legally married to each other who are applying to adopt a child jointly is determined by the agency to be unstable.

·      The applicant is married and his or her spouse has not joined in the application.

·      The applicant’s housing is inadequate to accommodate an additional child.

·      The applicant has not demonstrated financial responsibility.

·      The applicant has not adequately prepared to provide ongoing physical and emotional care to the child.

·      The agency has, based on its evaluation of the applicant, concerns relating to the applicant’s moral character, mental stability, or motivation for adopting a child.

·      The applicant or a member of the applicant’s household who is age 18 or older has been convicted, arrested, or has charges pending for a crime involving harm to a child.

·      The applicant or a member of the applicant’s household who is age 18 or older has charges pending for a felony conviction, or has been arrested and is awaiting final disposition of possible or pending charges involving:

» Child abuse or neglect

» Spousal abuse

» Any crime against children, including child pornography

» Any crime involving violence, including rape, sexual assault or homicide, but not including other physical assault or battery

» Physical assault, battery, or a drug-related offense that was committed within the past 5 years

·      The agency has concerns and reasonable doubts, based on any other relevant information, about the safety or well-being of the child, if the child is placed with the applicant.

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Nevada

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 127.280; Admin. Code §§ 127.238; 127.410

A child may not be placed in the home of prospective adoptive parents before the home study investigation has been completed.

In regulation: The home study must be updated annually until a child has been placed with the applicant or the applicant requests removal of his or her name from the waiting list.

An updated study of a prospective adoptive home must include:

·      All the changes that have occurred since the previous study

·      A request for and review of any reports and investigations regarding the abuse or neglect of a child by the applicant or any member of the applicant’s household who is age 18 or older

·      A request for and review of any information concerning the applicant or any member of the applicant’s household who is age 18 or older maintained by local law enforcement agencies

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Nevada

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 127.120; Admin. Code §§ 127.256; 127.455

After an adoption petition is filed, the agency shall make an investigation and report to the court. The report must contain a specific recommendation for or against approval of the petition, a statement of whether the child is known to be an Indian child, and any other information regarding the child or proposed home that the court requires.

In regulation: After the placement of the child in an adoptive home, the agency shall:

·      In the case of a child with special needs, make at least one supervisory visit to the adoptive home:

» Per week during the month following the initial placement

» Per month until the adoption becomes final

·      For a child with no special needs, make at least one supervisory visit per month until the adoption becomes final

·      Document all contacts with the prospective adoptive family, child, and other persons who know or have contact with the child

·      Provide consultation with or referral to such community resources as necessary to meet the child’s needs

·      Assist the prospective adoptive parent(s) to develop any skills related to parenting that may be needed to meet the specific needs of the adopted child

If the agency has concerns regarding the placement of a child, the agency may contact teachers, babysitters, counselors, providers of medical care, government agencies, and any other persons who know or have contact with the child for the purpose of ensuring that the specific needs of the child are being met.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Nevada

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 127.120

If one petitioner or the spouse of a petitioner is related to the child within the third degree of consanguinity, the court may, in its discretion, waive the investigation by the agency. A copy of the order waiving the investigation must be sent to the nearest office of the agency by the petitioners within 7 days after the order is issued.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Nevada

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 127.330

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 for Adoption in Nevada

Citation: Admin. Code § 127.450

If the foster parent of a child who is currently living with that foster parent is chosen as the adoptive parent of that child, before the child’s permanent placement in that home, in addition to meeting the applicable requirements of this chapter and any other applicable laws, the agency that provides child welfare services shall:

·      Review the licensing records of the foster parents

·      Update the study of the prospective adoptive home

·      Request and review any reports and investigations regarding the abuse or neglect of a child by the applicant or any member of the prospective adoptive family and household who is age 18 or older and any records of criminal history of such persons

·      Determine whether the adoptive family is eligible for financial or other assistance

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New Hampshire

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in New Hampshire

Citation: Admin. Code, HE-C 6448.13

The adoptive parent applicants and all household members shall be included in the family assessment.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in New Hampshire

Citation: Admin. Code, HE-C 6448.13

The child-placing agency shall conduct the assessment.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in New Hampshire

Citation: Admin. Code, HE-C 6448.13; 6448.14

The minimum requirements for acceptance of the adoptive parent applicants shall be as follows:

·      Each adoptive parent applicant shall be at least age 18.

·      Each prospective adoptive parent shall confirm their commitment to adopt.

·      The adoptive parent applicant shall not have been convicted of child abuse or neglect or any other serious crime that would affect the ability to care for children.

·      Adoptive parent applicants, whether married or single, shall have established a stable and consistent home life in that the applicant is self-sufficient and has adequate support systems such as extended family and friends in the community who are able to assist the family.

·      The applicants shall demonstrate good physical and emotional health, with a reasonable expectation that the good health will continue throughout the minority of the child.

·      Sufficient physical space and accommodations in the home shall exist for the adoptive child.

·      The applicants shall have sufficient income to support the family and the child they wish to adopt.

The adoptive parent applicant must complete at least 8 hours of preadoptive training during the family assessment process, prior to finalization of the adoption. The training shall cover:

·      The adoption process

·      Understanding a child’s behavior

·      Grief and loss

·      Developmental stages

·      The family unit from which the child entered the adoptive process

·      The impact of adoption on the family and community

·      Race and culture

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in New Hampshire

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 170-B:18; Admin. Code HE-C 6448.13

The court shall require a background check in all adoption proceedings. The background check shall consist of a fingerprint-based criminal record check of national crime information databases for all prospective adoptive parents and a central registry check for all prospective adoptive parents and any other adult living in the home.

In regulation: During the application process, the agency shall obtain:

·      A signed application

·      A signed medical statement from a licensed physician on each applicant based on an examination given within 1 year of the application

·      A financial statement that includes monthly income, monthly expenses, and assets

·      Information on the applicants’ religious preferences, if any

·      A minimum of five personal references provided by persons who have known the applicants for at least 2 years, one of whom is a relative and the remaining four unrelated to the applicant

The family assessment shall:

·      Include at least one visit made to the home

·      Consist of individual and joint meetings, when applicable, with the couple

·      Involve all adults and children of sufficient understanding in the household

·      Include consideration of the following factors to assess the adoptive parent applicant’s compatibility with a child and any problems the adoptive parent applicants might encounter following the adoption:

» The applicants’ motivation to adopt

» If applicable, how the applicants have dealt with issues of their infertility

» The applicants’ expectations of the child and preferred child characteristics

» The applicants’ feelings about adoption and how adoption will be explained to the child

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in new Hampshire

Citation: Admin. Code, HE-C 6448.13

If a founded child abuse or neglect report is on file for any member of the adoptive parent applicant’s household, staff of the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) in cooperation with staff from the child-placing agency shall conduct a complete review of the circumstances surrounding the report. After review, if DCYF determines that the household member poses no further threat to any child, the child-placing agency shall proceed with the application process.

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in New Hampshire

Citation: Admin. Rules, HE-C 6448.15; HE-C 6448.13

A child shall not be placed in an adoptive home until the home has been approved by a licensed child-placing agency or the department.

Approved adoptive families who have waited a year for a placement shall have an annual home visit and family assessment update that includes:

·      Any changes to the original family assessment

·      Updated criminal checks for all household members

·      Updated child protective services checks for child abuse or neglect

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in New Hampshire

Citation: Admin. Rules, HE-C 6448.15

Following placement of the child, the caseworker shall:

·      Contact the adoptive family, by phone or in person, within 3 weeks of placement

·      Meet in person with the adoptive family and the child(ren) at least once every 2 months until the adoption is finalized

·      Conduct at least two of the meetings in the home of the adoptive family

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in New Hampshire

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 170-B:18; Admin. Rules, HE-C 6448.14

The court may order an adoption decree without an assessment when the petitioner or petitioner’s spouse is the birth parent of the minor child to be adopted.

In regulation: Preadoptive training shall be optional when the adoptive parent applicant is a relative of the child who has lived with the child for at least 6 months.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in New Hampshire

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 170-A:1

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 for Adoption in New Hampshire

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

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New Jersey

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in New Jersey

Citation: Admin. Code § 10:121A-5.6

The applicants and household members age 18 and older must be included in the study.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in New Jersey

Citation: Admin. Code §§ 10:121A-5.6; 10:121C-3.1

A licensed child-placing agency shall conduct the home study. The division shall accept an application from and provide home study services only when the applicant is interested in adopting a special needs child.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in New Jersey

Citation: Admin. Code § 10:121A-5.6

The agency shall ensure that the adoptive applicants:

·      Are at least age 18 and at least 10 years older than the child being adopted

·      Have the capacity to meet the child’s physical and emotional needs

The agency also shall ask applicants to disclose any history of child abuse or neglect or any criminal record, excluding minor traffic violations.

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in New Jersey

Citation: Admin. Code § 10:121A-5.6

The home study process shall include the following:

·      At least three in-person joint and individual interviews with married applicants

·      At least one in-person joint and one individual interview with each member of the applicant’s household

·      At least one visit to the residence of the applicants

·      A review of the applicants’ current job references

·      A review of three personal references from persons unrelated to the applicants

The agency shall obtain information on the applicants, including, but not limited to:

·      The applicants’ interests, hobbies, child caring skills, strengths, and weaknesses, and how they see themselves and each other

·      Philosophies on child rearing, discipline, parental roles, and experience with children

·      Emotional stability and maturity

·      The state of their marital relationship

·      The attitudes of other members of the family

·      Each parent’s family life history

·      Each parent’s agreement that corporal punishment, including hitting and shaking, as well as abusive language and ridicule, are unacceptable means of discipline

·      Written medical reports on each applicant and all other persons living in the home

·      Verifications of present or previous marriage(s) and divorce(s) of each adoptive applicant, including deaths of former spouses when there was no divorce

·      Location and description of physical environment of the residence and neighborhood

·      A statement of income and financial resources, and a description of the applicant’s capacity to manage finances

The agency shall obtain fingerprint-based criminal history background checks and child abuse records checks on each adoptive applicant and all persons age 18 and older residing in the adoptive applicant’s home.

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in New Jersey

Citation: Admin. Code § 10:121A-5.6

When the criminal records check reveals a record of criminal convictions, the agency shall examine the nature and seriousness of the crime and the date it occurred. Special attention shall be given to crimes of violence, crimes that involve the use or threat of a weapon, rape/sexual assault, crimes that result in the loss of life and crimes against children.

The agency shall determine whether the convicted individual completed a rehabilitation program, including a prison sentence, stays in a halfway house, treatment received in a drug treatment facility, treatment received in a psychiatric hospital, or counseling received in the community. If such evidence exists, the agency shall assess whether the convicted individual has been rehabilitated and shall consider such rehabilitation in deciding whether to approve the adoption application.

When the child abuse record background check reveals that the adoptive applicant or an adult residing in the home has a record of a substantiated incident of child abuse and/or neglect, the agency shall examine the nature and seriousness of the abuse and/or neglect incidents and determine if the perpetrator has completed a rehabilitation program or counseling program. If such evidence exists, the agency shall assess whether the perpetrator can provide an appropriate home for the child.

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in New Jersey

Citation: Admin. Code § 10:121A-5.6

The agency shall not place a child in the adoptive applicant’s home for the purpose of adoption without a completed home study.

For applicants who have been studied, approved, and placed on a waiting list for longer than 18 months from the time their home study was approved, the agency shall ensure that the home study is current within 18 months of the child’s being placed into the home. The updated home study shall include:

·      One or more interviews with all members of the applicants’ household

·      Medical reports within the past year for all members of the applicants’ household

·      A visit to the residence of the applicants

·      Updated financial information

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in New Jersey

Citation: Admin. Code § 10:121A-5.8

The agency shall visit the home within 14 calendar days of the adoptive placement and document that:

·      The child’s background information was reviewed with the adoptive parents.

·      The adoptive parent(s) and child were given reassurance that their feelings, worries, and joys are natural and understandable.

·      School-age children have an educational plan.

·      Working parents have made child care arrangements.

For children younger than age 5, the agency shall:

·      Conduct bimonthly home visits for at least 6 months

·      Document that all members of the household were interviewed

·      Document that the following issues were discussed:

» How the presence of the child changed family relationships

» What role each family member has assumed regarding child care and discipline

» How parents cope with the demands of a crying infant and/or a child who ‘tests’ the placement and how the family reacts to these episodes, including any feelings of insecurity about doing the ‘right’ thing

For children age 5 or older, the agency shall:

·      Conduct monthly home visits during the minimum supervisory 6-month period, and then bimonthly home or office visits until the adoption is finalized

·      Document that the child was interviewed privately about his or her feelings about the adoption at each supervisory visit

·      Document that the following issues were discussed:

» How the presence of the child changed family relationships

» What role each family member has assumed regarding child care and discipline

» How the child ‘tests’ the placement and how the family reacts to these episodes, including any feelings of insecurity about doing the ‘right’ thing

» How the family perceives the child’s sense of identity and the need to fill in gaps in the child’s history

» How the child has adjusted to the school environment

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in New Jersey

Citation: Admin. Code § 10:121A-5.6

For a stepparent adoption, a criminal history record check shall not be required for household members age 18 and older who are related to the birth parent.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in New Jersey

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 9:23-5

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 for Adoption in New Jersey

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

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New Mexico

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in New Mexico

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 32A-5-14

The petitioner(s), the petitioner’s children, and any other permanent residents of the petitioner’s home shall be included in the study.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in New Mexico

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 32A-5-13

The preplacement study shall be conducted by an agency or a person certified by the department to conduct the study.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in New Mexico

Citation: Admin. Code § 8.26.4.12

All adoptive applicants are assessed for their suitability to care for children who might be placed in their home.

In addition to a criminal records check and abuse and neglect checks, the applicants shall provide proof of the applicant’s

U.S. citizenship such as a Social Security card, or proof of permanent residency such as a green card.

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in New Jersey

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 32A-5-14; 32A-5-14.1

The preplacement study shall include at a minimum the following:

·      An individual interview with each petitioner

·      A joint interview with both petitioners

·      A home visit that includes an interview with the petitioner’s children and any other permanent residents of the home

·      An interview with the adoptive child, if age appropriate

·      An individual interview with each of the adoptive child’s parents

·      Full disclosure to the petitioner

·      An exploration of the petitioners’ philosophy concerning discussion of adoption issues with the adoptive child

·      The initiation of a criminal records check of each petitioner

·      A medical certificate dated no more than 1 year prior to any adoptive placement assessing the petitioner’s health as it relates to the petitioner’s ability to care for the adoptive child

·      A minimum of three letters of reference from individuals named by the petitioner

·      A statement of the capacity and readiness of the petitioner for parenthood and the petitioner’s emotional and physical health and ability to shelter, feed, clothe, and educate the adoptive child

·      Verification of the petitioner’s employment, financial resources, and marital status

·      A report of a medical examination performed on the adoptive child within 1 year prior to the proposed adoptive placement

·      A statement of the results of any prior preplacement study

A fingerprint-based nationwide criminal history records check shall be conducted on a person who files a petition to adopt a child.

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in New Jersey

Citation: Admin. Code §§ 8.26.4.19: 8.8.3.13

An applicant’s request for licensure may be denied based on a documented professional assessment that the applicant cannot adequately provide safety, permanency, and well-being for children.

For the purpose of these regulations, the following information shall result in a conclusion that the applicant is an unreasonable risk:

·      A conviction for a felony or a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude and the criminal conviction directly relates to whether the applicant can provide a safe, responsible, and morally positive setting

·      A conviction for a felony or a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude and the criminal conviction does not directly relate to whether the applicant can provide a safe, responsible, and morally positive setting if the department determines that the applicant so convicted has not been sufficiently rehabilitated

·      A conviction, regardless of the degree of the crime or the date of the conviction, of trafficking in controlled substances, criminal sexual penetration, related sexual offenses, or child abuse

·      A substantiated referral, regardless of the date, for sexual abuse or for neglect characterized by a failure to protect against sexual abuse

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in New Jersey

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 32A-5-13

A preplacement study that has been prepared or updated within 1 year immediately prior to the date of placement, approving the petitioner as an appropriate adoptive parent, shall be filed with the court prior to issuance of a placement order.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in New Jersey

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 32A-5-31; Admin. Code § 8.26.3.32

A postplacement report shall include the following:

·      The interaction between the adoptive child and petitioner

·      The adjustment of the child since placement

·      The integration and acceptance of the child in the petitioner’s family

·      The petitioner’s ability to meet the physical and emotional needs of the child

·      Whether the adoptive home is a suitable home for the child

·      Whether the adoption is in the best interests of the child

·      The type and frequency of postplacement services given to the petitioner

The postplacement report shall contain an evaluation of the proposed adoption with a recommendation as to the granting of the petition for adoption.

The investigation for the postplacement report shall be conducted by the department, an agency, or an investigator. The department, agency, or investigator shall observe the adoptive child and interview the petitioner in the petitioner’s home as soon as possible after the receipt of notice of the action, but in any event within 30 days. For an adoptive child who is younger than age 1 at the time of placement, a written report with the court within 60 days from receipt of notice of the proceeding. For an adoptive child who is age 1 or older at the time of placement, the written report shall be filed within 120 days.

In regulation: Appropriate postplacement services shall be provided to the adoptive child and the prospective adoptive family from the time of the child’s placement until the postplacement report is filed. At a minimum, the following services shall be provided:

·      Contact shall be made with the prospective adoptive family personally or by telephone within 48 hours after placement.

·      A home visit shall be made within 3 working days of placement.

·      Additional visits shall be made every other month thereafter until the postplacement report is filed.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in New Jersey

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 32A-5-14; 32A-5-31; Admin. Code § 8.26.3.33

Unless directed by the court, the preplacement and postplacement studies are not required in cases in which the child is being adopted by a stepparent, a relative, or a person named in the child’s deceased parent(s)’ will.

In regulation: When the adoptive child has lived with the stepparent for more than 1 year but less than 2 years since the stepparent’s marriage to the custodial parent, counseling shall be required for both the stepparent and the custodial parent. When the child has lived with the stepparent for more than 2 years since the stepparent married the custodial parent, neither the custodial parent nor the stepparent shall be required to receive counseling, but they should be encouraged to receive counseling.

The noncustodial parent shall receive counseling regardless of the duration of the stepparent marriage. If the adoptive child is age 10 or older, the child shall receive counseling in all stepparent adoptions.

In all stepparent adoptions, the stepparent shall obtain a criminal records check.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in New Jersey

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 32A-11-1

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 for Adoption in New Jersey

Citation: Admin. Code § 8.26.2.23

The Protective Services Division (PSD) shall attempt to place foster children with concurrent plans of adoption in foster homes that have been identified as concurrent families. PSD completes the preplacement home study for foster parents and treatment foster parents who have been selected as adoptive parents for children in PSD custody.

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New York

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in New York

Citation: Code of Rules & Regs. Tit. 18, § 421.27

The applicant and any person older than age 18 residing in the applicant’s household must be included in the study.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in New York

Citation: Dom. Rel. Law § 115-d

A preplacement investigation conducted pursuant to the provisions of this section shall be made by a disinterested person who in the opinion of the court is qualified by training and experience to examine into the allegations set forth in the application and any other factors that may be relevant to the suitability of the applicant or applicants as a qualified adoptive parent or parents. For the purposes of this section, a disinterested person shall include a licensed master social worker, licensed clinical social worker, the probation service of the family court, or an authorized agency specifically designated by the court to conduct preplacement investigations.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in New York

Citation: Code of Rules & Regs. Tit. 18, § 421.16

Applicants shall be at least age 18. The agency shall not establish any other minimum or maximum age for acceptance.

An applicant shall healthy enough to have the energy and other abilities needed to fulfill the parental responsibilities.

Agencies must not consider marital status in their acceptance of applicants. Married applicants must have been married for at least 1 year. An adoptive applicant may not be rejected for adoption because of his or her fertility. The significance of fertility and/or infertility as it relates to the desire to adopt shall always be explored in the adoption process, but applicants shall not be required to provide proof of infertility.

The agency may study family size as it relates to the ability of a family to care for another child and the quality of life that will be offered to an adoptive child. Applicants shall not be rejected solely based on homosexuality. A decision to accept or reject when homosexuality is at issue shall be made as it relates to the best interests of adoptive children.

Employment, education, or volunteer activities of the applicants may not be a basis for rejection. Race, ethnic group, and religion shall not be a basis for rejecting an adoption applicant.

No applicant shall be rejected based on low income or because of receipt of income maintenance payments. The adoption study process shall evaluate an applicant’s ability to budget his or her resources in such a way that a child can be reasonably assured of minimum standards of nutrition, health, shelter, clothing, and other essentials.

Changes in employment and residences may be examined to determine the significance of such changes for the functioning and well-being of the family and any child to be placed in the home.

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in New York

Citation: Code of Rules & Regs. Tit. 18, §§ 421.16; 421.27

An adoption study shall explore the applicant’s:

·      Capacity to give and receive affection

·      Ability to provide for a child’s physical and emotional needs

·      Ability to accept the intrinsic worth of a child, to respect and share his or her past, and to have realistic expectations and goals

·      Flexibility and ability to change

·      Ability to cope with problems, stress, and frustration

·      Feelings about parenting an adopted child and the ability to make a commitment to a child placed in the home

·      Ability to use community resources to strengthen and enrich family functioning

A report of a physical examination conducted not more than 1 year preceding the date of the adoption application regarding the family’s general health; the absence of communicable disease, infection, or illness; or any physical condition that might affect the proper care of an adopted child, is required.

An adoption study shall inquire into an applicant’s experience with children and offer him or her, if feasible, the opportunity to increase his or her experience, knowledge, and skills in this area. The adoption study process shall include inquiry into the applicant’s ability to locate and take advantage of human and organizational resources to strengthen his or her capacity as parents.

An adoption study shall include a check with the State Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment as whether the subject has an indicated child abuse and maltreatment report on file. If the applicant or other household member age 18 or older has resided out of State at any time during the previous 5 years, a check of out-of-State registries must be made.

An authorized agency must perform fingerprint-based State and Federal criminal history record checks regarding any prospective adoptive parent and each person older than age 18 who is currently residing in the home of the prospective adoptive parent before the adoptive parent is finally approved for the placement of a child.

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in New York

Citation: Code of Rules & Regs. Tit. 18, §§ 421.16; 421.27

If the applicant is the subject of an indicated report of child abuse or maltreatment, the agency must determine on the basis of the information it has available and in accordance with guidelines developed by the department whether to approve the application.

Current abuse of alcohol or other drugs requires the rejection of an application. The record must clearly show how the finding of such abuse was made.

The authorized agency must deny an adoption application when a criminal history record of the prospective or approved adoptive parent reveals:

·      A felony conviction at any time involving:

» Child abuse or neglect

» Spousal abuse

» A crime against a child, including child pornography

» A crime involving violence, including rape, sexual assault, or homicide, other than a crime involving physical assault or battery

·      A felony conviction within 5 years for physical assault, battery, or a drug-related offense

The authorized agency may deny an application for approval of a prospective adoptive parent when:

·      A criminal history record of the prospective or approved adoptive parent reveals a charge or a conviction of a crime other than one set forth above

·      A criminal history record of any other person older than age 18 who resides in the home of the prospective or approved adoptive parent reveals a charge or a conviction of any crime

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in New York

Citation: Dom. Rel. Law § 115

A person seeking to commence a private-placement adoption shall be certified as a qualified adoptive parent by a court

of competent jurisdiction prior to the placement of a child in his or her home.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in New York

Citation: Dom. Rel. Law § 116

When the adoptive child is younger than age 18, no order of adoption shall be made until 3 months after the petition to adopt has been filed.

A postplacement investigation shall be made by a disinterested person who has no interest in the outcome of petitioner’s application. The disinterested person shall make a written report of his or her investigation that shall include, but not be limited to, the following information:

·      The marital and family status and history of the adoptive parents and adoptive child

·      The physical and mental health of the adoptive parents and adoptive child

·      The property owned by and the income of the adoptive parents

·      The compensation paid or agreed upon with respect to the placement of the child for adoption

·      Whether either adoptive parent has ever been a respondent in any proceeding concerning allegedly abused, neglected, abandoned, or delinquent children

·      Any other facts relating to the familial, social, religious, emotional, and financial circumstances of the adoptive parents that may be relevant to a determination of adoption

The written report of investigation shall be submitted to the court within 30 days unless the court grants an extension for good cause shown. The report shall be filed, in any event, before the final order of adoption is granted.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in New York

Citation: Dom. Rel. Law §§ 115-d; 116

A preplacement investigation is not required when the petition to adopt is filed by a stepparent for the adoption of a stepchild when the stepchild has resided with the birth parent and the stepparent for a continuous period of at least 1 year.

When the spouse of the adoptive parent is the birth parent of the child and the child has resided with the birth parent and adoptive parent for more than 3 months before the adoption petition was filed, a waiting period shall not be required.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in New York

Citation: Code of Rules & Regs. Tit. 18, § 421.14

When the Office of Children and Family Services, through the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, receives a request to conduct a home study for the approval of persons in New York as adoptive parents for a child from another State, the office will forward the request to the social services district in which the prospective adoptive parent resides for the purpose of conducting a home study and approving the prospective adoptive parent in accordance with these regulations. The social services district may conduct the study directly or may use a voluntary authorized agency to conduct the home study. The study must be completed and simultaneously returned within 60 days to the Office of Children and Family Services and the State or local agency that submitted the request.

The prospective adoptive parent need not complete the education or training requirements of this part for the completion of the home study.

The term ‘home study’ means an assessment of the safety and suitability of placing the child in the home of the prospective adoptive parent based on an evaluation of a home environment.

When a social services district proposes to place a foster child or children with prospective adoptive parent(s) in another State, the social services district must treat a home study received from the other State, an Indian Tribe, or a private agency under contract with the other State as meeting the requirements imposed by New York for the completion of a home study before placing the child or children in the home, unless within 14 days of the receipt of the home study, the social services district determines, based on the content of the home study, that making a decision in reliance on the home study would be contrary to the welfare of the child or children.

Foster to Adopt Placements for Adoption in New York

Citation: Code of Rules & Regs. Tit. 18, § 421.19

Authorized agencies shall offer an adoption application to foster parents or refer them to an authorized agency that operates an adoption program when a child in their care for 12 continuous months has been freed for adoption. An agency shall accept an adoption application from a foster parent seeking to adopt a child who has been in his home for less than 12 continuous months. The agency must assess and prepare foster parent adoptive applicants as rapidly as possible, as follows:

·      Review the information about the family that was obtained in the original foster home study and annual recertification

·      Identify information needed in an adoption study that was lacking or insufficiently current

·      Identify those areas of family functioning that may need further exploration or strengthening

·      Conduct an adoption study process that:

» Does not repeat information gathering activities

» Obtains additional or updated information as rapidly as possible, including obtaining criminal history record checks

» Focuses on areas identified as needing further exploration or strengthening

» Clarifies for the applicant the difference between foster care and adoption and the issues involved in obtaining an adoption subsidy

» Includes inquiring of the Office of Children and Family Services whether an applicant or other person older than age 18 who resides in the home is the subject of an indicated report of child abuse or maltreatment on file with the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment

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North Carolina

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in North Carolina

Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-3-309

The prospective adoptive parents and all individuals age 18 or older residing in the prospective adoptive home shall be included in the study.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in North Carolina

Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-1-109

Only a county department of social services in this State or an agency licensed by the department may prepare preplacement assessments.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in North Carolina

Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-3-301

An individual seeking to adopt a child must be found to be suitable to be an adoptive parent, either in general or for a specific minor.

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in North Carolina

Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 48-3-303; 48-3-309

The preplacement assessment must include at least one personal interview with each individual being assessed. The preplacement assessment shall report on the following:

·      Age, nationality, race or ethnicity, and any religious preference

·      Marital and family status and history

·      Physical and mental health, including any addiction to alcohol or drugs

·      Education and employment history and any special skills

·      Property, income, and current financial information

·      Reason for wanting to adopt

·      Whether the individual has ever been a respondent in a domestic violence proceeding or a proceeding concerning a minor who was allegedly abused, dependent, neglected, abandoned, or delinquent

·      Whether the individual has ever been convicted of a crime other than a minor traffic violation

·      The quality of the environment in the home and the functioning of any children in the household

The department shall ensure that fingerprint-based criminal histories of all prospective adoptive parents and all individuals age 18 or older who reside in the prospective adoptive home are checked prior to placement and, based on the criminal history, a determination is made as to the prospective adoptive parent(s)’ fitness to have responsibility for the safety and well-being of children and whether other individuals required to be checked are fit for an adoptive child to reside with them in the home. The department shall ensure that all individuals required to be checked are checked prior to placement for county, State, and Federal criminal histories.

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in North Carolina

Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-3-309

A county department of social services shall issue an unfavorable preplacement assessment to a prospective adoptive parent if any person residing in the home has a criminal history. An unfavorable preplacement assessment shall be issued when the county department of social services determines that, based on other criminal convictions, whether felony or misdemeanor, the prospective adoptive parent is unfit to have responsibility for the safety and well-being of children or other individuals required to be checked are unfit for an adoptive child to reside with them in the home.

For purposes of this section, the term ‘criminal history’ means:

·      A county, State, or Federal conviction of a felony or a pending felony indictment of:

» A crime for child abuse or neglect

» Spousal abuse

» A crime against a child, including child pornography

» A crime involving violence, including rape, sexual assault, or homicide, other than physical assault or battery

A county, State, or Federal conviction of a felony or a pending felony indictment for physical assault, battery, or a drug-related offense, if the offense was committed within the past 5 years

Refusal to consent to a criminal history check by any individual required to be checked is grounds for the issuance of an unfavorable preplacement assessment.

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in North Carolina

Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-3-301

A preplacement assessment must be completed or updated within 18 months immediately preceding a placement of a child for adoption.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in North Carolina

Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 48-2-501; 48-2-502

Whenever a petition for adoption of a minor is filed, the court shall order a report to the court made to assist the court to determine if the proposed adoption of the minor by the petitioner is in the minor’s best interests.

In preparing the report, the agency shall conduct a personal interview with each petitioner in the petitioner’s residence and at least one additional interview with each petitioner and the adoptive child. The agency shall observe the relationship between the child and the petitioners.

The report must contain:

·      An account of the petitioner’s marital or family status, physical and mental health, home environment, property, income, and financial obligations

·      All reasonably available nonidentifying information concerning the physical, mental, and emotional condition of the adoptive child

·      Copies of any court order, judgment, decree, or pending legal proceeding affecting the adoptive child, the petitioner, or any child of the petitioner relevant to the welfare of the adoptive child

·      A list of the expenses, fees, or other charges incurred, paid, or to be paid in connection with the adoption

·      Any fact or circumstance known to the agency that raises a specific concern about whether the proposed adoption is contrary to the best interests of the adoptive child because it poses a significant risk of harm to the well-being of the child

·      A finding by the agency concerning the suitability of the petitioner and the petitioner’s home for the adoptive child

·      A recommendation concerning the granting of the petition

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in North Carolina

Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 48-3-301; 48-2-501

A preplacement assessment is not required when a parent or guardian places a minor child directly with a grandparent, sibling, first cousin, aunt, uncle, great-aunt, great-uncle, or great-grandparent of the minor.

The following exceptions for the requirement for a postpetition report apply:

·      In any stepparent adoption in which the minor has lived with the stepparent for at least the 2 consecutive years immediately preceding the filing of the petition, the court may order a report. However, the court is not required to order a report unless the minor’s consent is to be waived, the minor has revoked consent, or both of the minor’s parents are dead.

·      In any adoption of a minor by the minor’s grandparent in which the minor has lived with the grandparent for at least the 2 consecutive years immediately preceding the filing of the petition, the court may order a report.

However, the court is not required to order a report unless the minor’s consent is to be waived, the minor has revoked consent, or the minor is eligible for adoption assistance.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in North Carolina

Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 48-3-207; 48-1-109

An interstate placement of a minor for purposes of adoption shall comply with the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

A preplacement assessment prepared in another State may be used in this State only if:

·      The prospective adoptive parent resided in the State where it was prepared.

·      The person or entity that prepared it was authorized by the law of that State to gather the necessary information.

Foster to Adopt Placements for Adoption in North Carolina

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

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North Dakota

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in North Dakota

Citation: Admin. Code § 75-03-36-28

An adoption assessment must be completed on any prospective adoptive parent.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in North Dakota

Citation: Admin. Code § 75-03-36-28

A child-placing agency shall conduct the adoption assessment.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in North Dakota

Citation: Gen. Stat. § 14-15-03

The following individuals may adopt:

·      A husband and wife together although one or both are minors

·      An unmarried adult

·      The unmarried father or mother of the child being adopted

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in North Dakota

Citation: Admin. Code § 75-03-36-31

The following information shall be included in the adoption assessment:

·      Motivation for adoption

·      Strengths and challenges of each family member

·      The attitudes and feelings of family members and extended family regarding adoption

·      Evidence of stability of the adoptive parents’ marital or other significant relationships

·      The applicant’s understanding of and plans for assisting a minority child to understand and value his or her racial and cultural background

·      Attitudes of the applicant toward the birth parents and their reasons for placement

·      The applicant’s plan for discussing adoption with the child

·      The applicant’s emotional stability and maturity, including a history of treatment for substance abuse, mental health concerns, abuse or neglect issues, or other issues impacting the applicant’s emotional stability and maturity

·      The applicant’s parenting skills

·      The attitude of the applicant’s birth children or previously adopted children about adoption, if applicable

·      Reports of the physical examination of the applicant or self-disclosure of medical concerns, current within the past 12 months

·      The applicant’s ability to provide financially for the adopted child with or without financial assistance under subsidized adoption, including the availability of health insurance

·      The applicant’s references, including at least five personal and community character references

·      The applicant’s religious preference, if any

·      A description of the applicant’s home and community

·      Plans for child care if the applicant works

·      Plans for care of the child in the event of the death of the applicant after the adoption

·      Results of fingerprint-based criminal history records and child abuse and neglect index checks

·      Recommendations for adoption in regard to number, age, sex, characteristics, and special needs of children best served by the applicants

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in North Dakota

Citation: Admin. Code § 75-03-36-31

When an applicant is denied a positive recommendation for adoption, the child-placing agency shall inform the applicant, in writing, of the reasons the child cannot be placed in the applicant’s home.

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in North Dakota

Citation: Admin. Code §§ 75-03-36-28; 75-03-36-31

A child-placing agency may not place a child into an adoptive home without a full adoption assessment being completed on the prospective adoptive parents, including required fingerprint-based criminal history record investigations and child abuse and neglect index investigations.

The child-placing agency shall require an adoptive family assessment be updated at least every 2 years from the date of completion of the original assessment until a child is placed into the home for the purpose of adoption.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in North Dakota

Citation: Gen. Stat. § 14-15-11; Admin. Code § 75-03-36-30

After the filing of a petition to adopt a child, an investigation must be made by a licensed child-placing agency to inquire into the conditions and antecedents of the child being adopted and the petitioner to determine whether the adoptive home is a suitable home for the child and whether the proposed adoption is in the best interests of the child.

The report of the investigation must contain:

·      A review of the child’s history

·      A preplacement adoption assessment of the petitioner, including a criminal history record investigation

·      A postplacement evaluation of the placement with a recommendation as to the granting of the petition for adoption

·      Any other information the court requires regarding the petitioner or child

In regulation: The child-placing agency shall:

·      Make continuing supportive services available for children and families following adoptive placement

·      Interview all members of the adoptive family in the family home

·      Have face-to-face visits with the child on a monthly basis primarily in the child’s residence

·      Provide assistance to the adoptive family in completing the legal adoption of the child

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in North Dakota

Citation: Gen. Stat. § 14-15-11

An investigation and report is not required in cases in which a stepparent is the petitioner. If the petitioner is a relative other than a stepparent of the child, the child has lived with the petitioner for at least 9 months, no allegations of abuse or neglect have been filed against the petitioner or any member of the petitioner’s household, and the court is satisfied that the proposed adoptive home is appropriate for the child, the court may waive the investigation and report.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in North Dakota

Citation: Cent. Code § 14-13-01

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 for Adoption in North Dakota

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

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Northern Mariana Islands

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Northern Mariana Islands

Citation: Commonwealth Code Tit. 8, § 1410

The petitioner(s) may be the subject of an investigation.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in Northern Mariana Islands

Citation: Commonwealth Code Tit. 8, § 1410

The investigation shall be made by the Division of Youth Services, its designee, or other qualified person or agency designated by the court.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Northern Mariana Islands

Citation: Commonwealth Code Tit. 8, § 1403

An adult person who is a resident of the Commonwealth may petition to adopt. The person may be single, married to the legal mother or father of the child, or married and petitioning jointly with his or her spouse. The petitioner must be at least 10 years older than the child to be adopted.

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Northern Mariana Islands

Citation: Commonwealth Code Tit. 8, § 1410

If so ordered by the court, an investigation (‘home study’) shall be of the petitioner for the purpose of determining whether the adoptive home is suitable for the child and whether the proposed adoption is in the best interests of the child.

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Northern Mariana Islands

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Northern Mariana Islands

Citation: Commonwealth Code Tit. 8, § 1410

A written report of the home study must be filed with the court before the petition for adoption can be heard.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Northern Mariana Islands

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Northern Mariana Islands

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Northern Mariana Islands

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Foster to Adopt Placements for Adoption in Northern Mariana Islands

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

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Ohio

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Ohio

Citation: Admin. Code § 5101:2-48-09

Each adoptive applicant and each adult household member of the applicant’s home shall be included in the study

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in Ohio

Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 3107.031; 3107.014

An assessor shall conduct a home study for the purpose of determining whether a person seeking to adopt a child is suitable to adopt.

Only an individual who meets all of the following requirements may perform the duties of an assessor:

·      The individual must be in the employ of, appointed by, or under contract with a court, public children services agency, private child-placing agency, or private noncustodial agency.

·      The individual must be one of the following:

» A professional counselor, social worker, or licensed marriage and family therapist

» A licensed psychologist

» A student working to earn a 4-year, post-secondary degree, or higher, in a social or behavior science, who conducts assessor’s duties under the supervision of a professional counselor, social worker, or licensed marriage and family therapist or psychologist

» A civil service employee engaging in social work without a license

» A former employee of a public children services agency who, while so employed, conducted the duties of an assessor

The individual must complete training in accordance with rules adopted under Rev. Code § 3107.015.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Ohio

Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 3107.03; 3107.031; Admin. Code § 5101:2-48-09

The following persons may adopt:

·      A husband and wife together, at least one of whom is an adult

·      An unmarried adult

·      The unmarried minor parent of the child being adopted

The assessor shall not consider the person’s age when determining whether the person is suitable to adopt if the person is old enough to adopt.

In regulation: The child-placing agency shall provide preservice training to all adoptive applicants prior to approval of the home study. Preservice training shall include:

·      Agency policy and procedures

·      Child development

·      Attachment and separation

·      Dealing with behavioral challenges

·      Cultural issues

·      Caring for children who have been sexually abused

·      Adoption-related issues

The agency may waive components of the requirement for education and training if the assessor determines that the family has received training previously or the family has the skills to care for the needs of the child that will be placed in the home.

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Ohio

Citation: Admin. Code §§ 5101:2-48-09; 5101:2-48-12

The home study shall include:

·      Documentation of current marital status, if applicable

·      A financial statement that shows the household has an income sufficient to meet the basic needs of the household and to make timely payment of shelter costs, utility bills, and other debts

·      The report of any criminal records check

·      The results of a central registry of abuse and neglect for each adoptive applicant and each adult household member in every State in which the person has resided in the past 5 years

·      Face-to-face interviews with all members of the household older than age 4

·      A medical statement that documents that the applicant and all members of the household are free from any physical, emotional, or mental condition that would endanger children or seriously impair the ability of the household members to care for the adopted child

·      The names of three people unrelated to the applicant who do not reside with the applicant to serve as references

·      A favorable local or State fire safety inspection

·      Documentation the residence meets all safety standards

·      A completed water test by an approved Ohio water testing laboratory, if deemed necessary by the agency

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Ohio

Citation: Admin. Code § 5101:2-48-10

The agency shall not approve an adoptive placement if the results of the criminal records check indicate that a prospective adoptive parent or, when applicable, any adult who resides with the prospective adoptive parent has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to any offense listed in Admin. Code § 5101:2-48-10, Appendix A, including cruelty to animals, homicide, assault, kidnapping, sex offenses, arson, robbery, a weapons offense, or drug-related offenses.

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Ohio

Citation: Admin. Code §§ 5101:2-48-09; 5101:2-48-12

Upon receipt of the completed adoption application, the agency shall initiate the home study process. The study must be completed and the applicant approved before the placement of an adoptive child.

The home study shall be updated every 2 years from the date of approval of the initial home study.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Ohio

Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 3107.101; 3107.12; 3107.13

No later than 7 days after an adoptive child is placed in a prospective adoptive home, the assessor shall begin monthly home visits in that home until the court issues a final decree of adoption. During the home visits, the assessor shall evaluate the progress of the placement in the prospective adoptive home and also shall make face-to-face contact with the prospective adoptive parent, the adoptive child, and all other children or adults residing in the home.

An assessor shall conduct a prefinalization assessment of the child and petitioner before a court issues a final decree of adoption. On completion of the assessment, the assessor shall prepare a written report that includes:

·      The adjustment of the child and the petitioner to the adoptive placement

·      The present and anticipated needs of the child and the petitioner for adoption-related services

·      The physical, mental, and developmental condition of the child

·      If known, the child’s birth family background

·      The reasons for the child’s placement with the petitioner, the petitioner’s attitude toward the proposed adoption, and the circumstances under which the child was placed in the home of the petitioner

·      The attitude of the child toward the proposed adoption, if the child’s age makes this feasible

·      If the child is an Indian child, how the placement complies with the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978

·      If known, the child’s psychological background, including prior abuse of the child and behavioral problems of the child

A final decree of adoption shall not be issued until the adoptive child has lived in the adoptive home for at least 6 months after placement, and the department or court has had an opportunity to observe or investigate the adoptive home.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Ohio

Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 3107.101; 3107.12; 3107.13

The requirement for monthly home visits does not apply to an adoption by a stepparent whose spouse is a birth or adoptive parent of the adoptive child. The requirement for a prefinalization assessment does not apply to a stepparent adoption unless a court, after determining a prefinalization assessment is in the best interests of the child, orders that an assessor conduct a prefinalization assessment.

In the case of adoption by a stepparent, the final order of adoption shall not be issued until at least 6 months after the filing of the petition or until the child has lived in the home for at least 6 months

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Ohio

Citation: Rev. Code § 5103.23

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 for Adoption in Ohio

Citation: Rev. Code § 3107.012

A foster caregiver may apply to obtain the services of an agency to arrange an adoption for the foster caregiver if he or she seeks to adopt the foster child who has resided in the foster caregiver’s home for at least 6 months.

The department shall prescribe an application for a foster caregiver to use. The application shall not require that the foster caregiver provide any information the foster caregiver already provided the department, or undergo an inspection the foster caregiver already underwent, to obtain a foster home certificate.

An agency that receives an application for adoption from a foster caregiver shall not require, as a condition for accepting or approving the application, that the foster caregiver undergo a criminal records check as a prospective adoptive parent. The agency shall inform the foster caregiver that the foster caregiver must undergo the criminal records check before a court may issue a final decree of adoption or interlocutory order of adoption.

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Oklahoma

Wo Must Be Studied for Adoption in Oklahoma

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 10, § 7505-5.3

The study must include the prospective adoptive parents and all other household members who are age 18 and older.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in Oklahoma

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 10, § 7505-5.4

Home studies must be conducted only by the following persons or agencies:

·      The agency having custody or legal guardianship of the child

·      The Department of Human Services

·      A licensed child-placing agency

·      A person designated by the court who does not have an interest in the outcome of the home study and who meets one of the following qualifications:

» A master’s degree in social work and 1 year of experience in children’s services

» A member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers and 1 year of experience in children’s services

» A master’s degree in a behavioral or social science and 2 years’ experience in children’s services

» A doctorate in a behavioral or social science and 1 year of experience in children’s services

» A member of the clergy with 2 years of experience in family counseling

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoptions in Oklahoma

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 10, § 7503-1.1; Admin. Code § 340:75-15-41.1

The following persons are eligible to adopt a child:

·      A husband and wife jointly if both spouses are at least age 21

·      Either the husband or wife if the other spouse is a parent or a relative of the child

·      An unmarried person who is at least age 21

·      A married person who is at least age 21 who is legally separated

In regulation: If a prospective placement provider meets the minimum age required by statute, the department may not use the age of an otherwise eligible individual as a reason for denial of placement.

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Oklahoma

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 10, § 7505-5.3

A home study must include at a minimum the following:

·      An appropriate inquiry to determine whether the proposed home is a suitable one for the child

·      At least one individual interview with each parent, each school-age child, and any other household member; one joint interview; a home visit; and three written references

·      Verification that the home is a healthy, safe environment in which to raise a child

·      Verification of marital status, employment, income, access to medical care, and physical health and history

·      A review of a criminal background check and a child abuse and neglect information system check that includes:

» A national fingerprint-based criminal background check, a search of the Department of Corrections’ sex offenders registry, and a search of the child abuse and neglect information system

» For each adoptive parent or other household member age 18 and older who has not maintained continuous residency in the State for 5 years prior to the home study or home study update, a child abuse registry check from every other State in which the person has resided during the 5-year period

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Oklahoma

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 10, § 7505-5.1; Admin. Code § 340:75-15-88

A prospective adoptive parent shall not be approved for placement of a child if the petitioners or any other person residing in the home of the petitioners has been convicted of any of the following felony offenses:

·      Within the 5-year period preceding the date of the petition: physical assault, domestic abuse, battery, or a drugrelated offense

·      Child abuse or neglect

·      A crime against a child, including child pornography

·      A crime involving violence, including, but not limited to, rape, sexual assault, or homicide

Under no circumstances shall a child be placed with an individual subject to the Oklahoma Sex Offenders Registration

Act or an individual who is married to or living with an individual subject to the Oklahoma Sex Offenders Registration Act.

In regulation: Other reasons for denial may include:

·      The applicant lacks a stable, adequate income.

·      The home is inadequate to accommodate the addition of children or presents health or safety concerns.

·      The age, health, or other condition of the applicant would impede his or her ability to provide care for a child on a permanent basis.

·      Relationships in the household are unstable and unsatisfactory.

·      The mental health of the applicant or other household member would impede the applicant’s ability to provide care for a child.

• References are guarded or have reservations in recommending the applicant.

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Oklahoma

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 10, § 7505-5.1

A person must have a favorable written preplacement home study before a child may be placed in his or her custody for purposes of adoption. A preplacement home study is favorable if it contains a finding that the person is suited to be an adoptive parent, either in general or for a particular child, and it is completed or brought current within 12 months of the placement of a child.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Oklahoma

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 10, § 7505-5.3

Prior to issuance of a final decree, the investigator shall observe the minor in the proposed adoptive home and report in writing to the court on any circumstances or conditions that may have a bearing on the granting of a final adoption decree.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Oklahoma

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 10, §§ 7505-5.1; 7505-5.2

A preplacement home study is not required if a parent or guardian places a minor directly with a relative of the child for purposes of adoption, or if the minor has been residing with a birth parent’s spouse for at least 1 year when the petition for adoption is filed, but a home study of the relative or stepparent is required during the pendency of a proceeding for adoption.

If a preplacement home study has not been done, upon the filing of a petition for adoption, the court shall order that a home study be made. If the child being adopted is the biological or adopted child of either of the petitioners or of the spouse of the petitioner, then the court may waive the requirement for a home study report if the court makes the following findings:

·      Waiver of the home study requirement is in the best interests of the child.

·      The parent of the child and the stepparent of the child who are petitioning for adoption have been married for at least 1 year with the child being adopted living in their home.

·      The stepparent has no record of conviction of a felony or conviction or adjudication in juvenile court for child abuse or neglect or domestic violence, and there is no record of a protective order or orders issued against the stepparent.

In all other adoptions, including foster, relative, and stepparent adoptions, a home study and report shall be made.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Oklahoma

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 10, § 571

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 for Adoption in Oklahoma

Citation: Admin. Code § 340:75-15-41.1

During any permanency hearing, if the court determines the child is to be placed for adoption and the child has resided with the foster parent for at least 1 year, the court considers the foster parent eligible to adopt and gives great weight to the foster parent in the adoption consideration unless there is an existing, loving, emotional bond with a relative of the child, by blood or marriage, who is willing, able, and eligible to adopt the child. The court must take into account the statutory factors to make the determination including, but not limited to, the age and preference of the child and the long-term best interests of the child.

 

 

 

 

 

Oregon

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Oregon

Citation: Admin. Rules § 413-120-0450

The adoptive applicant and other persons in the household who are age 18 and older will be included in the investigation and study.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in Oregon

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 109.304

The home study and placement report is completed by the Department of Human Services or a licensed adoption agency.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Oregon

Citation: Admin. Rules §§ 413-120-0220; 413-120-0246

The adoptive applicant must be at least age 21 unless one of the following applies:

·      The child welfare program manager or a designee has approved a relative adoptive applicant between age 18 through 20

·      The child is an Indian child and the adoptive applicant is a member of the child’s extended family, another member of the Indian child’s Tribe, or another Indian family

To be approved to adopt a child in the legal custody of the department, an individual must complete all of the following:

·      Have an adoption home study recommending the applicant as a potential adoptive resource

·      Meet the department’s standards for adoptive homes by demonstrating the knowledge, skills, and ability to meet, without agency oversight, the current and lifelong needs of the child for all of the following:

» Physical and emotional safety and well-being

» Developing and maintaining connections to the child’s family

» Continuity and familiarity

» Appropriate social, educational, developmental, emotional, and physical support

» Integration into the family

» Stability and permanency

» Maintaining his or her identity, cultural, religious, and spiritual heritage

• Provide evidence of successful completion of a training program approved by the department unless the adoption program manager has approved an alternate training program

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Oregon

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 109.304; Admin. Rules §§ 413-120-0220; 413-120-0460

A home study reports the results of an investigation that:

·      Provides information to a prospective adoptive parent about adoption

·      Includes investigation and study concerning a prospective parent’s suitability to adopt

·      Includes a written report concerning the prospective parent’s suitability to adopt

·      Is completed before the petition for adoption is filed

In regulation: An adoption application must include:

·      Financial information, current within 12 months of application, demonstrating the ability of the applicant to meet the needs of the family and the adopted child

·      Medical information current within 24 months of application

·      When applicable, mental health information

·      When applicable, a copy of a marriage certificate, divorce verification, or death certificate of spouse

·      Consent to a criminal offender information records check for each applicant and all household members age 18 and older

·      Consent to a child abuse and neglect background check for each adoptive applicant and all household members age 18 and older

·      Names and contact information for four references, two of whom may be relatives of the applicant, who can attest to the character and ability of the applicant to provide safe and protective care for a child

An adoption applicant and other persons in the household must consent to a criminal offender information records check once a year after the initial criminal records check is completed. Each applicant must be notified of this requirement at the time the applicant applies for an adoption approval.

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Oregon

Citation: Admin. Rules §§ 413-120-0225; 413-120-0450

The department may deny an application at any time when one or more of the following applies:

·      Information regarding the applicant is sufficient to determine the applicant cannot meet adoption home standards.

·      An applicant’s license or certificate to provide services to children, the elderly, or individuals with disabilities has previously been or is currently being denied, revoked, or suspended.

·      The applicant falsifies or omits information.

·      The applicant does not respond to the inquiries and requests for information within the timelines established by the department.

·      The applicant does not submit the required application information.

A conviction for any crime or a false statement about a conviction for any crime may disqualify a subject individual from being approved as an adoptive parent.

The department may not approve an adoption application, and no exception may be granted, if a subject individual has been convicted in Oregon or any other jurisdiction of a felony crime that involves:

·      Violence, including rape, sexual assault, and homicide, but not including other physical assault or battery

·      Intentional starvation or torture

·      Abuse or neglect of a child

·      Spousal abuse

·      Aiding, abetting, attempting, soliciting, or conspiring to cause the death of a child

·      Sodomy or sexual abuse

·      A child as the victim, including child pornography

The department may not approve an adoption application, and no exception may be granted, if a subject individual has been convicted in Oregon or any other jurisdiction of a felony crime within the preceding 5 years that involves physical assault or battery or a drug-related offense.

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Oregon

Citation: Admin. Rules § 413-120-0246

The adoption home study recommending the applicant as a potential adoptive resource must have been written, amended, or updated within the 12 months prior to the adoption placement selection.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Oregon

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 109.304; Admin. Rules § 413-120-0860

A placement report is a written report after the petition for adoption has been filed that includes the department’s or the agency’s recommendation to the court concerning whether the court should grant the petition for adoption based upon the department’s or the agency’s evaluation of:

·      The status and adjustment of the child

·      The status and adjustment of the child’s prospective adoptive parent

In regulation: Postplacement supervision must include the following:

·      Face-to-face contact with the child

·      Assessment of the child’s safety and well-being

·      Providing services and support to assist the adoptive parent in meeting the requirements described in regulation

·      Providing support to the adoptive parent in the process of the completion and submission of the adoption assistance application, when applicable

·      Documentation from the supervising worker that includes the supervision reports and a recommendation regarding finalization of the adoption

When it becomes known to the department that there are significant changes to the adoptive parent’s situation, including changes in the family structure, the department may require an updated adoption home study prior to making a determination to proceed with finalization of the adoption.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Oregon

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 109.309

The department, upon request by the petitioner, may waive the requirements for a home study and postplacement report in an adoption in which one of the child’s biological or adoptive parents retains parental rights.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Oregon

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 417.200

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 for Adoption in Oregon

Citation: Admin. Rules § 413-120-0541

A foster parent may request consideration as a current caregiver for a child in the legal custody of the department when the requirements of all of the following sections are met:

·      Adoption is the child’s identified permanency or concurrent permanency plan and the department determines it is in the best interests of the child to proceed with identifying potential adoptive resources.

·      The child has been in the physical custody of the foster parent for the most recent 12 consecutive months.

·      The foster parent is willing to be considered as the adoptive resource for the child’s siblings currently in substitute care who also have adoption as an identified permanency or concurrent permanency plan.

·      The caseworker and the caseworker’s supervisor have complied with the requirements of both of the following subsections:

» Reviewed the department’s diligent efforts to identify, contact, and place a child with relatives and to place siblings together

» Have confirmed there are no pending department actions to:

·      Identify a child’s relatives or a sibling’s current guardian, relative, current caregiver, or adoptive resource with whom the sibling is currently living

·      Assess a relative who has either expressed an interest in and needs to be or currently is being assessed as a permanency resource

 

 

 

Pennsylvania

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Pennsylvania

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 23, § 6344

The study investigation shall include the prospective adoptive parents and any individual over age 18 residing in the home.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in Pennsylvania

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 23, § 2530

The home study shall be conducted by a local public child care agency, an adoption agency, or a licensed social worker designated by the court to perform such study. A preplacement report shall be prepared by the agency or person conducting the home study.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Pennsylvania

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 23, § 2312

Any individual may become an adopting parent.

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Pennsylvania

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 23, §§ 2530; 6344

The preplacement report shall set forth all pertinent information relating to the fitness of the adopting parents as parents. The report shall be based upon a study of the home environment; family life; parenting skills; age; physical and mental health; social, cultural, and religious background; facilities and resources of the adoptive parents; and their ability to manage their resources.

In the course of an investigation, the prospective adoptive parents and any individual older than age 18 residing in the home must submit the following information:

·      A report of criminal history record information from the State police

·      A certification from the department as to whether the applicant is named in the central register as the perpetrator of a founded or indicated report of child abuse

·      A fingerprint-based check of Federal criminal history record information

If a prospective adoptive parent or any individual over age 18 years has resided outside the State at any time within the previous 5 years, the person must submit a certification obtained within the past year from the Statewide central registry in each State in which the person has resided within the previous 5-year period, as to whether the person is named as a perpetrator of child abuse.

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Pennsylvania

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 23, § 6344

A prospective adoptive parent may not be approved if the prospective adoptive parent or an individual age 14 or older who resides for at least 30 days in a calendar year with the prospective adoptive parent meets either of the following:

·      Is named in the central register as the perpetrator of a founded report of child abuse committed within the 5-year period immediately preceding verification or is named in the central register as the perpetrator of a founded report for a school employee committed within the 5-year period immediately preceding verification

·      Has been found guilty at any time of an offense listed in § 6344(c)(2), including criminal homicide, aggravated assault, kidnapping, rape, sexual assault, incest, endangering the welfare of children, prostitution, or sexual abuse of children

·      Has been found guilty of a drug-related offense within the past 5 years

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Pennsylvania

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 23, §§ 2530; 2531

Before a child may be placed with a prospective adoptive parent, a home study containing a favorable recommendation must have been completed within 3 years and been supplemented within 1 year prior to placement.

The preplacement report must be included with a report of intention to adopt that must be filed with the court.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Pennsylvania

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 23, §§ 2533; 2535

Within 6 months after filing the report of intention to adopt, the intermediary that arranged the adoption placement of the child shall make a written report to the court in which the petition for adoption will be filed. The report shall include:

·      The name and address of the intermediary

·      The name, sex, racial background, age, date and place of birth, and religious affiliation of the child

·      The date of the placement of the child with the adopting parents

·      A statement that medical history information was obtained and if not obtained, a statement of the reason

When a report of intention to adopt has been filed, the court shall order an investigation to be made and a report filed by a local public child care agency, a voluntary child care agency, or an appropriate person designated by the court. In lieu of the investigation, the court may accept an investigation made by the agency that placed the child and the report of investigation in such cases may be incorporated into the report of the intermediary.

The investigation shall cover all pertinent information regarding the child’s eligibility for adoption and the suitability of the placement, including the physical, mental, and emotional needs and welfare of the child, and the child’s and the adopting parents’ age, sex, health, and racial, ethnic, and religious background.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Pennsylvania

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 23, § 2531

The report of intention to adopt shall not be required when the child is the child, grandchild, stepchild, brother or sister

of the whole or half blood, or niece or nephew by blood, marriage, or adoption of the person receiving or retaining custody or physical care.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Pennsylvania

Citation: Pa. Stat. Tit. 62, § 761

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 for Adoption in Pennsylvania

Citation: Pa. Stat. Tit. 11, § 2624

A resource family parent or parents shall be given an interview with the appropriate county or private agency when all of the following occur:

·      The county or private agency that placed the child with that resource family has changed the child’s goal from foster care to adoption.

·      The resource family parent is interested in becoming an adoptive resource for that child.

·      The child has resided with that resource family for 6 months or more.

In addition to information obtained from interviews of other prospective adoptive families, the interviewing agency shall convey information obtained from the interview with the resource family parent to the county agency responsible for making the determination as to adoptive placement of the child. When more than one adoptive resource is available for the placement of a child, the county agency shall document its reasons for placing the child with the selected adoptive parents in the child’s case record.

No resource parent who meets the conditions set forth above shall be denied consideration as an adoptive parent solely because of the inability to access that individual as a resource family parent in the future.

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Puerto Rico

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Puerto Rico

Citation: Ann. Laws Tit. 32, § 2699b

A study shall be made of the adoption petitioner.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in Puerto Rico

Citation: Ann. Laws Tit. 32, § 2699

It is the responsibility of the Department of the Family to carry out the expert social study.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Puerto Rico

Citation: Ann. Laws Tit. 31, § 531

The adopter shall meet the following requirements:

·      Have resided uninterruptedly in Puerto Rico for at least 6 months prior to the date on which the petition for adoption is filed

·      Be of legal age, except in the case in which two married persons adopt jointly, in which case it shall be sufficient for one of them to be of legal age as long as the other adopter is at least age 18

·      Have legal capacity to act

·      Be at least 14 years older than the minor being adopted

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Puerto Rico

Citation: Ann. Laws Tit. 32, § 2699b

The adoption petition shall contain the personal circumstances of the adopter, including his or her Social Security number, residential address, mailing address, telephone number, name and address of employer, location of the company or place of business, source of income, his or her moral character, and financial solvency.

Documents that shall accompany the petition include:

·      The criminal record certificate of the adopter

·      The written consent of the biological parent or parents when the latter are available

·      The report of the expert social study for the adjudication of the adoption if it is available

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Puerto Rico

Citation: Ann. Laws Tit. 31, § 532

Persons declared incompetent by judicial decree shall not be able to adopt for the duration of the incompetence. In the case of a person sentenced to a term of imprisonment, that person shall not be able to adopt for the duration thereof.

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Puerto Rico

Citation: Ann. Laws Tit. 32, § 2699e

The report on the expert social study shall be submitted within 60 days from the date of the notice of the petition.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Puerto Rico

Citation: Ann. Laws Tit. 32, § 2699e

The Department of the Family shall prepare a report on the expert social study to the court for the adjudication of every adoption petition. The report shall contain the following:

·      The social background record of the petitioners, the adoptive child, and the child’s parent or parents, as well as any other material facts in the case

·      Recommendations on whether it is in the best interests of the child the adoption to proceed

·      Comments on the existence of one or more causes or conditions that justify the divesting of the birth parents’ parental rights

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Puerto Rico

Citation: Ann. Laws Tit. 31, § 531

In those cases in which a person wishes to adopt the child of his or her spouse, it shall be sufficient that upon the date the petition for adoption is filed, the adopter has been married to the father or mother of the child being adopted for at least 2 years or that the adopting spouse is at least 14 years older than the adopted child.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Puerto Rico

Citation: Ann. Laws Tit. 8, § 549

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 for Adoption in Puerto Rico

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

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Rhode Island

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Rhode Island

Citation: Gen. Laws § 15-7-11

The prospective adoptive parents, all prospective siblings, and any other household members shall be included in the home study.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in Rhode Island

Citation: Gen. Laws § 15-7-11

The Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) shall have the duty to verify the allegations of an adoption petition and to make an appropriate investigation to determine whether the proposed adoptive home is a suitable home for the child. When a child has been placed for adoption by a duly licensed child-placing agency, the court may accept the home study report of the child-placing agency in lieu of the investigation and recommendation of DCYF.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Rhode Island

Citation: Gen. Laws § 15-7-4

Any person residing in Rhode Island may petition the family court to adopt as his or her child any person younger than him or herself and under age 18.

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Rhode Island

Citation: Gen. Laws § 15-7-11

All home studies shall be based on a minimum of two home visits by the agency conducting the home study. All prospective siblings and any other household members shall be interviewed during a home visit. The following information shall be included in all home studies:

·      Identifying information on all household members, including minor children and the current needs of each child

·      Information regarding the prospective adoptive parent(s)’ motivation and reasons for the adoption

·      Current background information on the prospective adoptive parents, including a written self-assessment

·      Child care experience and parenting philosophy

·      Information regarding past and present marriage and/or partnership relationships

·      Current medical and psychological conditions, including addiction to drugs or alcohol, that may be seriously detrimental to the health and welfare of children

·      A description of the home and local community, including any health and safety concerns regarding the home

·      Information regarding finances and employment

·      Reference letters from at least three individuals at least two of whom are nonrelatives

·      Results of background checks with DCYF and clearance checks regarding State and Federal criminal records conducted on the prospective adoptive parents

·      Information related to the prospective adoptive parent’s willingness and ability to accept and cooperate with adoption support services, including their level of understanding regarding openness with the birth family

·      Information related to the match between prospective adoptive parents and the child, including attitudes and capabilities of prospective adoptive parents and the child’s characteristics and background

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Rhode Island

Citation: Code of Rules § 03-000-015

The agency shall deny approval of an adoption application if the applicant:

·      Has been convicted of, or is serving an active probationary sentence for, a disqualifying criminal offense

·      Falsifies or omits facts on an application form or during an adoptive home study

·      Impedes an adoptive study

·      Has a documented history of substantiated child abuse or neglect

·      Has a past or current history of agency or departmental intervention deemed detrimental to the care of a child

·      Has a documented history of chemical or alcohol-related problems

·      Would not provide satisfactory parenting for a child

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Rhode Island

Citation: Gen. Laws § 15-7-11

The report of the investigation shall be submitted within 60 days.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Rhode Island

Citation: Code of Rules § 03-000-015

The social service worker shall visit the adoptive family at least twice after the placement of a child and prior to the final decree. A summary of the observations made during the visits shall be recorded and used in making final recommendations as to the finalization of the adoption.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Rhode Island

Citation: Gen. Laws § 15-7-11

Provisions of this section requiring a home study may, in the discretion of the court, be waived in the case of a petition for the adoption of a child where the child is the natural child of one of the parties petitioning for the adoption and resides with the petitioning parties.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Rhode Island

Citation: Gen. Laws § 40-15-1

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 for Adoption in Rhode Island

Citation: Gen. Stat. § 42-72-5.1

The foster parents of a child who have had the physical custody of the child for a period of 2 years or more may petition the family court for the adoption of the child. The court shall give notice of the petition to the natural parents and, after a hearing thereon, the court may grant the petition, if it finds that:

·      DCYF has made every effort to involve the natural parents in planning for the child.

·      The natural parents did not exercise reasonable visitation rights with the child.

·      Termination of the rights of the natural parents and adoption by the foster parents is in the best interests of the child.

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South Carolina

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in South Carolina

Citation: Ann. Code § 63-9-520; Code of Regs. § 114-4980

An investigation must be made of the prospective adoptive parent(s).

In regulation: Each member of the household must be included in the adoption study.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in South Carolina

Citation: Code of Regs. § 114-4980

The child-placing agency shall conduct the adoptive study.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in South Carolina

Citation: Ann. Code § 63-9-60

Any South Carolina resident may petition the court to adopt a child.

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in South Carolina

Citation: Ann. Code § 63-9-520; Code of Regs. § 114-4980

Preplacement investigations must answer all of the following:

·      Whether the home of the prospective adoptive parents is suitable

·      How the emotional maturity, finances, health, relationships, and any other relevant characteristics of the prospective adoptive parents affect their ability to provide a child with an adequate environment

·      Whether a prospective parent has ever been involved in any proceeding concerning allegedly neglected, abandoned, abused, or delinquent children

·      Whether the prospective parent has completed a course or counseling in preparation for adoption

·      Whether the prospective parent is approved for placement of a child for purposes of adoption

In regulation: The child-placing agency should include in any home study at least two face-to-face interviews. Separate face-to-face interviews with each member of the household must be conducted.

The child-placing agency also shall study the following areas:

·      Motivation for adoption

·      Strengths and weaknesses of each household member

·      Attitudes and feelings of the family toward accepting adoptive children

·      The applicant’s plan for discussing adoption with the child

·      Record of arrests and criminal convictions and checks with the child abuse central registry

·      Adjustment of birth children, foster children, or previously adopted children

·      A report of a physical examination for household members within 6 months of the study that verifies that each person suffers no communicable disease, specific illness, or disabilities that would interfere with the family’s ability to parent a child

·      Ability to provide financially for the child being adopted with or without agency financial assistance through adoption subsidy

·      Personal and community character references

·      Religious orientation, if any

·      Location and physical environment of the home

·      Plan for child care if parent(s) work

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in South Carolina

Citation: Code of Regs. § 114-4980

The child-placing agency shall notify applicant(s) in writing within 30 days of completion of the adoption investigation of the acceptance or denial of their application. When applicant(s) are not accepted, the child-placing agency shall inform them of the reasons why the application is denied.

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in South Carolina

Citation: Ann. Code § 63-9-520

Before the placement of any child by any agency or by any person with a prospective adoptive parent, a preplacement investigation, a background investigation, and reports of these investigations must be completed.

If the waiting period for an adoptive placement exceeds 1 year from the date the preplacement investigation report is completed, the report must be updated before the placement of a child to determine any change in circumstances.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in South Carolina

Citation: Ann. Code § 63-9-520; Code of Regs. § 114-4980

A postplacement investigation and report of this investigation must be completed after the filing of the adoption petition. Copies of this report must be provided to the adoption petitioner and must be filed with the court at the final hearing on the adoption. A postplacement investigation and report of this investigation must:

·      Answer all of the following:

» The race, sex, and age of the adoptive child and whether the child is a suitable child for adoption by the prospective adoptive parent

» The reason for the child’s placement away from the biological parents

» Whether the child, if of appropriate age and mental capacity, desires to be adopted

·      Review and where indicated, investigate the allegations of the adoption petition and its attachments and of the accounting of disbursements required under § 63-9-740

·      Evaluate the progress of the placement of the adoptive child

·      Determine whether adoption by the petitioner is in the best interests of the child

In regulation: The caseworker shall be in contact with the adoptive family at least monthly after the placement of a child prior to the final decree. Information obtained from the contact shall be used in making recommendations for the finalization of the adoption.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in South Carolina

Citation: Ann. Code § 63-9-1110

Any person may adopt his or her spouse’s child, and any person may adopt a child to whom he or she is related by blood or marriage. In the adoption of these children:

·      No investigation or report is required unless otherwise directed by the court.

·      No accounting by the petitioner of all disbursements is required unless the accounting is ordered by the court.

·      Upon good cause shown, the court may waive the requirement that the final hearing must not be held before 90 days after the filing of the adoption petition.

·      Upon good cause shown, the court may waive the requirement of the appointment of independent counsel for an indigent parent.

·      Upon good cause shown, the court may waive the requirement that the adoption proceeding must be finalized in this State.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in South Carolina

Citation: Ann. Code § 63-9-2200

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 for Adoption in South Carolina

Citation: Code of Regs. § 114-550

Foster parents may apply to adopt a foster child. Foster families who have been approved for adoption will be given first consideration for the adoption of a foster child under the following conditions:

·      The child has been in the same foster home for a consecutive 6 months period of time or more.

·      The child is legally free for adoption.

·      Placement for adoption with the foster family is deemed to be in the best interests of the child.

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South Dakota

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in South Dakota

Citation: Admin. Code § 67:14:32:05.03

The study shall include the applicants and family and other household members who are at least age 10.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in South Dakota

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 25-6-9.1

The home study shall be completed by a licensed child-placing agency, the Department of Social Services, or a certified social worker eligible to engage in private independent practice.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in South Dakota

Citation: Admin. Code § 67:14:32:08

The general qualifications for an adoptive applicant are as follows:

·      The applicant is at least age 21 and resides in South Dakota. Verification of age is required.

·      No member of the applicant’s household age 10 or older, other than a child placed in the home for foster care, has on record a substantiated report of child abuse or neglect.

·      No member of the applicant’s household has had a conviction for any of the crimes specified in § 67:14:32:05.05.

·      The applicant is capable of providing good care for children.

·      The applicant has income to meet the needs of the applicant’s existing family and to support, care, and educate an adopted child.

·      The applicant’s children, if any, are willing to accept an adopted child as a member of the family.

·      The applicant’s family composition, needs, and relationships may not adversely affect an adopted child.

·      The applicant has the ability to parent a child, including a basic understanding of the child’s physical and mental or emotional development and the ability to fulfill the child’s needs. An applicant must have the ability to offer continuing care and guidance to a child throughout the stages of the child’s development in a manner consistent with the social and cultural heritage norms of the child. The applicant must be able to continue meeting the needs of the applicant’s own children, if any. The applicant must display the capacity to provide good care for children.

The department may require a psychological evaluation and the submission of medical records if questions arise during the application process regarding the applicant’s emotional stability or the emotional stability of another household member.

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in South Dakota

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 25-6-9.1; Admin. Code §§ 67:14:32:05.03; :09; :11.01

A home study shall include a fingerprint-based criminal record check completed by the Division of Criminal Investigation and a central registry screening completed by the Department of Social Services. In addition, no child who is in the custody of the Department of Social Services may be placed in a home for adoption until a fingerprint-based criminal record check has been completed by the FBI for each adopting parent.

In regulation: The department shall screen an applicant and family and other household members who are at least age 10 to determine if the individual has been involved in any substantiated incidents of child abuse or neglect. The individual may not have a substantiated report of child abuse or neglect.

A physical examination is required for each applicant. A physical examination completed within the 12 months preceding the application is acceptable. The applicant must present evidence to the department that each child living in the home is currently immunized against measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR); diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTP);

Haemophilus Influenzae Type b (Hib); Hepatitis B (Hep B); and polio.

An adoptive study includes an evaluation of the applicant based on references, personal interviews, screenings against the central registry for abuse or neglect, a criminal record check, information obtained from at least three character references, and home consultations.

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in South Dakota

Citation: Admin. Code §§ 67:14:32:05.05; 67:14:32:10

The department shall deny an application and shall notify the applicant of the denial if the criminal record check detects a conviction for any of the following:

·      A crime that would indicate harmful behavior toward children

·      A crime of violence

·      A sex crime

·      Within the preceding 5 years, a conviction for any other felony

Within 120 days after application, the department shall notify the applicant in writing of the approval or denial. If the application is denied, the department shall inform the applicant of the reasons for the denial. If the applicant disagrees with the department’s determination, the applicant may appeal the department’s determination by requesting a fair hearing under the provisions of chapter 67:17:02.

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in South Dakota

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 25-6-9.1; Admin. Code § 67:14:32:11.01

No person may place a child in a home for adoption until a home study has been completed.

In regulation: An adoptive study must be updated on an annual basis.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in South Dakota

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 25-6-11; Admin. Code §§ 67:14:11:01 through 67:14:11:03

For a child in the custody of the department, the petitioner shall notify the department when the adoption petition has been filed with the court. The department shall make a recommendation as to the desirability of the adoption.

In regulation: Upon receipt of a copy of the adoption petition, the department shall conduct an investigation as to the desirability for the adoption. The investigation shall include:

·      Personal interviews with the petitioners, the child who is older than age 6, the natural parents, or the legal guardian if parental rights have been terminated

·      Inspection of information from case records of the department

·      Inspection of information obtained from medical, financial, or other references

·      Inspection of information provided by other social agencies

Following the investigation, the department shall submit its recommendations to the judge of the court in which the adoption petition was filed. The recommendation shall be in writing and shall be signed by the secretary of the department or a designee.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in South Dakota

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 25-6-10

In the case of a stepparent adopting a stepchild, an investigation is not required unless ordered by the court.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in South Dakota

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 26-13-1; Admin. Code § 67:14:24:09.01

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.

In regulation: A study and evaluation of an out-of-State placement facility shall be made by an agency licensed or authorized for child placement. The study and evaluation shall be based on the other State’s child placement standards and shall be submitted by the out-of-State agency to the department prior to placement of a child.

Foster to Adopt Placements for Adoption in South Dakota

Citation: Admin. Code § 67:42:05:01

A ‘fost/adopt’ family is an approved adoptive home that has agreed to accept the placement of a child who is not yet legally free for adoption. The family is committed, as is the placing agency, to make the placement permanent when legal termination of parental rights is completed.

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Tennessee

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Tennessee

Citation: Rules & Regs. R. 0250-4-9-.09

The agency shall make a thorough study of the applicants before the home is approved.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in Tennessee

Citation: Ann. Code § 36-1-116

The study may be conducted by a licensed child-placing agency, a licensed clinical social worker, or the department if the parents are indigent under Federal poverty guidelines.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Tennessee

Citation: Ann. Code § 36-1-115

Any person older than age 18 may petition to adopt a child. The petitioners must have physical custody or must demonstrate to the court that they have the right to receive custody of the child.

The petitioner have lived or maintained a regular residence in the State or on Federal territory within the State for 6 consecutive months immediately preceding the filing of the adoption petition. If the petitioner is in military service stationed outside the State but had lived or maintained a regular residence within the State for 6 consecutive months immediately prior to entering military service, the residency requirement shall not apply.

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Tennessee

Citation: Rules & Regs. R. 0250-4-9-.09

The adoptive home study shall be based on consideration of the following points:

·      Information obtained through interviews with all members of the family living in the home

·      At least one visit to the home

·      The applicants’ motivation to adopt a child

·      The applicants’ ability to provide for the child

·      Information obtained through contacts with references that shall include members of the extended family as well as individuals who are not related to the applicants

·      The character, values, and ethical standards of the applicants

·      The physical and mental health of the applicants

·      Health and fire safety conditions within the home

The agency shall ascertain that the applicants have reasonably good health and average life expectancy so that the security of having parents is unlikely to be cut short before the child matures. Except for the placement of special needs children, the agency shall require that the cause of childlessness be evaluated by a physician.

This medical evaluation shall be included in the agency assessment of the motivation to adopt a child.

The adoptive home study shall include the caseworkers’ evaluation of the applicants’ suitability as adoptive parents and recommendations as to approval of the home. The home study shall also include a face sheet, study references, health examinations, and verification of marital status.

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Tennessee

Citation: Rules & Regs. R. 0250-4-9-.09

When the adoptive home study is completed, the applicants shall be informed in writing as to the disposition of their application.

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Tennessee

Citation: Ann. Code § 36-1-116; Rules & Regs. R. 0250-4-9-.09

Prior to filing a petition for the adoption, the prospective adoptive parents may request a home study concerning the suitability of their home and themselves as adoptive parents. To be valid, the home study must have been completed or updated within 6 months prior to filing of the petition.

Upon filing the adoption petition, the prospective adoptive parents shall notify the court if they have requested a home study and, if a study has been completed, file a copy of the report based upon the home study with the court. If no prior or updated home study has been conducted, the court, within 5 days of the date the petition is filed, shall direct an agency or the department to submit a preliminary court report and any supplemental court reports as may be necessary, and a final court report concerning the circumstances of the child, the child’s antecedents, and the proposed adoptive home.

A preliminary court report shall be filed within 60 days. A final court report shall be submitted immediately prior to the finalization of the adoption.

In regulation: For a public agency adoption, the adoptive home study shall be completed before the placement of a child in the home.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Tennessee

Citation: Ann. Code § 36-1-116; Rules & Regs. R. 0250-4-9-.09

The court shall order a licensed child-placing agency, licensed clinical social worker, or the department if the parents are indigent under Federal poverty guidelines or if the child was placed with the prospective adoptive parents by the department, to provide supervision for the child who is in the home of prospective adoptive parents and to make any necessary reports that the court should have concerning the welfare of the child pending entry of the final order in the case.

In regulation: After placement, the caseworker shall visit in the home at least quarterly, until the adoption is finalized.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Tennessee

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 36-1-115; 36-1-116

The requirement for State residency of 6 months’ duration shall not apply when the petitioner is seeking to adopt a child who is related as long as the petitioner is an actual resident of the State at the time the petition is filed.

The court may waive the requirement for a home study and postplacement supervision when the child is to be adopted by related persons.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Tennessee

Citation: Ann. Code § 37-4-201

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 for Adoption in Tennessee

Citation: Ann. Code § 36-1-115

When a child is placed in a foster home and becomes available for adoption due to the termination or surrender of all parental or guardianship rights to the child, those foster parents shall be given first preference to adopt the child if the child has resided in the foster home for 12 or more consecutive months immediately preceding the filing of an adoption petition.

In becoming adoptive parents, the foster parents shall meet all requirements otherwise imposed on persons seeking to adopt children in the custody of the department and shall be subject to all other provisions of this part.

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Texas

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Texas

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 40, § 749.3621

The applicants, their families, and any persons, including children, residing in the applicants’ home shall be included in the study.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in Texas

Citation: Fam. Code § 107.051

The social study may be made by a private entity, a person appointed by the court, a domestic relations office, or a State agency, including the Department of Family and Protective Services if the department is a party to the suit.

Each individual who conducts a social study must be qualified under § 107.0511.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Texas

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 40, § 749.3623

All adoptive applicants must be:

·      Age 21 or older

·      Financially able to provide for their family and the child being adopted

·      Healthy enough to assume parenting responsibilities

·      Able to accept and parent an adopted child

·      Willing to respect and encourage the adopted child’s religious affiliation, if any

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Texas

Citation: Fam. Code § 107.0514; 162.0085; Admin. Code Tit. 40, §§ 745.615; 749.3663

The basic elements of a social study consist of:

·      A personal interview of each adopting parent

·      An interview, conducted in a developmentally appropriate manner, of each adoptive child who is at least age 4

·      Observation of each adoptive child, regardless of age

·      Obtaining information from relevant collateral sources

·      Evaluation of the home environment

The court shall order each person seeking to adopt a child to obtain that person’s own fingerprint-based criminal history record information. The court shall accept a person’s criminal history record information when the information was obtained no more than 1 year before the date the court ordered the history to be obtained.

In regulation: A name-based criminal history check and a central registry check must be requested for:

·      Each prospective adoptive parent seeking to adopt through a child-placing agency

·      Each person age 14 and older who will reside in the home

The department must request a fingerprint-based criminal history check request for:

·      Any person who applies to be an adoptive parent

·      Any person age 18 or older living in the home of the applicant

Basic safety requirements for the home and grounds include:

·      The home must be clean, safe, and free of obvious fire and other hazards. The home must be equipped with smoke detectors.

·      Pets must be vaccinated and treated as recommended by a licensed veterinarian.

·      If the adoptive home has a swimming pool, wading pool, hot tub, or other bodies of water on the premises, plans must be in place to ensure the safety of the child.

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Texas

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 40, §§ 745.651; 745.655

Approval may be denied if the person has committed any of the following misdemeanor or felony offenses:

·      Offenses against the person or family

·      Robbery

·      Public indecency

·      Stalking

·      Criminal solicitation of a minor

·      Failure to stop or report aggravated sexual assault of a child

·      Any offense committed in the past 10 years including:

» Those under the Texas Controlled Substances Act

» Making firearms accessible to a child

» Intoxication and alcoholic beverage offenses

·      Any other felony under the Texas Penal Code or similar offense under the law of another State or Federal law committed within the past 10 years

·      Deferred adjudications covering an offense listed above if the person has not completed probation successfully

Approval also may be denied if a check of the child abuse central registry reveals that the person has any sustained finding of child abuse or neglect, including sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, physical neglect, neglectful supervision, or medical neglect.

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Texas

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 40, § 749.3633

An adoptive home screening must be updated every 12 months and after a major life change in the adoptive family. The update must include:

·      A review and any required updating of each category of information required for an adoptive home screening

·      Documentation of at least one visit to the adoptive home when all household members are present within the 90-day period before the update is approved

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Texas

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 40 §§ 749.3741 through 749. 3753

A postplacement adoptive report is a written evaluation of the adjustment of all individuals to the placement. Interviews for the report may be conducted in one visit and must include:

·      Individual interviews with each adoptive parent, each child age 3 or older, any other person living with the family

·      A joint interview with the adoptive parents

·      A family group interview with all family members

The interviews must be conducted after the child has resided with the adoptive parent for at least 5 months. Each interview should focus on the adjustment of the family and the child following the placement of the child. The caseworker must visit the home when all members of the household are present and document the date, persons present, their relationship to the adoptive parents, and observations made during the visit.

The postplacement adoptive report must include:

·      A summary of all assessments and available information about the child, including:

» Health, social, education, genetic, and family histories

» History of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse experienced by the child

» History of any previous placements

» The child’s understanding of adoptive placement

» The child’s legal status

·      A summary of all assessments, interviews, and available information about the adoptive parents including:

» The adoptive home screening, including the results of the criminal history and central registry background checks

» Individual strengths and weaknesses of the adoptive parents

» Observations made relative to the family’s interactions

» Interviews conducted and home visits

·      An evaluation of the child’s needs and whether the environment will meet those needs

·      A summary of the adjustment of the family and child in the home during the postplacement period

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Texas

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

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Texas

Citation: Fam. Code § 162.102

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 for Adoption in Texas

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 40, §§ 749.3201; 749.3203; 749.3221

Applicants may be approved as a foster-adoptive home. All rules for verifying a foster family home and for approving an adoptive home must be followed. The foster home screening and preadoptive home screening may be combined into one screening report as long as requirements for each screening are covered.

A ‘legal risk placement’ exists when:

·      A child that is not available for adoption because his or her parent(s)’ rights have not been terminated

·      A child has been placed into a home that has been jointly verified as a foster home and approved as an adoptive home.

·      The placement is intended to change from foster care to adoption once the child is eligible for adoption.

A legal risk placement does not exist when a child is placed with foster parents who want to adopt the child but have not been approved as an adoptive home.

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Utah

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Utah

Citation: Ann. Code § 78B-6-128

Each prospective adoptive parent and any other adult living in the home shall be included in the study.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in Utah

Citation: Ann. Code § 78B-6-128

The preplacement evaluation may be conducted by:

·      An expert in family relations approved by the court

·      A certified social worker

·      A clinical social worker

·      A marriage and family therapist

·      A psychologist

·      A professional counselor

·      The Department of Human Services or a child-placing agency that has entered into a contract with the department for a child with special needs who is in the custody of any public child welfare agency

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Utah

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 78B-6-117; 78B-6-118: Admin. Code R512-41-3

A child may be adopted by adults who are legally married to each other, including adoption by a stepparent. A child may not be adopted by a person who is cohabiting in a relationship that is not a legally valid and binding marriage under the laws of this State.

When a child in the custody of the division is placed for adoption, the child shall be placed with a married couple unless:

·      There are no qualified married couples who are willing and able to adopt the child.

·      The child is placed with a relative.

·      The child is placed with a person who has already developed a substantial relationship with the child.

·      The child is placed with a person who was selected by a parent or former parent of the child.

·      It is in the best interests of the child to place the child with a single person.

A person adopting a child must be at least 10 years older than the child adopted. If the petitioners are a married couple, only one of them need beat least 10 years older than the child.

In regulation: Prospective adoptive parents who apply to adopt a child in the custody of Child and Family Services, including kin or division employees, must meet the following requirements:

·      Complete the adoption training program approved by the division

·      Be assessed and approved as adoptive parents following completion of a home study

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Utah

Citation: Ann. Code § 78B-6-128; Admin. Code R512-41-4

The preplacement adoptive evaluation shall include:

·      A fingerprint-based State and national criminal history records check

·      A report containing all information regarding reports and investigations of child abuse, neglect, and dependency for each State the person has lived in for the previous 5 years

In regulation: An adoption evaluation must be consistent with the standards of the Child Welfare League of America and must include the following:

·      An autobiography or psychosocial information gathered from the prospective adoptive parents and family members

·      A behavioral assessment of the prospective adoptive parents and children living at home

·      A declaration that applicants are not cohabiting in a relationship that is not a legal marriage

·      A health status verification of the prospective adoptive parents and children living at home

·      A verification of financial status

·      An assessment of home safety and health

·      An assessment of the prospective adoptive parents parenting skills

·      A recommendation of the types of children that may be appropriate for the prospective adoptive parents

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Utah

Citation: Ann. Code § 62A-2-120

A person may not be approved as a prospective adoptive parent if the person has been convicted of:

·      A felony that constitutes any of the following:

» Child abuse

» Commission of domestic violence in the presence of a child

» Abuse or neglect of a child with a disability

» Endangerment of a child

» Murder or manslaughter

» Child abuse homicide

» Kidnapping

» A sex offense, including sexual exploitation of children

» Aggravated arson, burglary, or robbery

» Domestic violence

·      A felony committed within the past 5 years involving:

» Aggravated assault

» Mayhem

» A drug-related offense

When Studies Must Be Completed

Citation: Ann. Code § 78B-6-128; Admin. Code R512-40-3

A child may not be placed in an adoptive home until a preplacement adoptive evaluation, assessing the prospective adoptive parent and the prospective adoptive home, has been conducted in accordance with the requirements of this section.

The preplacement evaluation must be completed or updated within the 12-month period immediately preceding the placement of a child with the prospective adoptive parent.

In regulation: A record of the approved home study shall be maintained in the Division of Child and Family Services

Management Information System. Any significant changes in the family’s situation shall be documented by revisions or additions on an annual basis in the adoptive study, including revised medical reports, if needed.

At the end of a family’s third year as an approved prospective adoptive home, Child and Family Services shall notify the family that their home study will be closed unless the family reapplies for a new home study to be completed.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Utah

Citation: Ann. Code § 78B-6-129; Admin. Code R512-41-8

A postplacement evaluation shall be conducted and submitted to the court prior to the final hearing in an adoption proceeding. The postplacement evaluation shall include:

·      Verification of the allegations of fact contained in the adoption petition

·      An evaluation of the progress of the child’s placement in the adoptive home

·      A recommendation regarding whether the adoption is in the best interests of the child

In regulation: The division will develop a Child and Family Plan within 30 days of placement and supervise the adoptive parents, including frequent visits with the child for at least the first 6 months after placement. Supervision by the division will continue until the adoption is final.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Utah

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 78B-6-128; 78B-6-129

Preplacement and postplacement evaluations are not required if a birth parent has legal custody of the child being adopted and the prospective adoptive parent is related to that child as a stepparent, sibling, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or first cousin unless the evaluation is otherwise requested by the court. The prospective adoptive parent shall obtain criminal history record information and a report containing all information regarding reports and investigations of child abuse, neglect, and dependency, and file that documentation with the court prior to finalization of the adoption.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Utah

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 62A-4a-701; 62A-4a-710

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 State of Utah may request a home study report from another State or an Indian Tribe for purposes of assessing the safety and suitability of placing a child in a home outside of the jurisdiction of the State of Utah.

The State of Utah may not impose any restriction on the ability of a State agency administering, or supervising the administration of, a State program operated under a State plan approved under 42 U.S.C. 671 to contract with a private agency to conduct a home study.

When the State of Utah receives a home study report, the home study report shall be considered to meet all requirements imposed by the State of Utah for completion of a home study before a child is placed in a home, unless, within 14 days after the day on which the report is received, the State of Utah determines, based on grounds that are specific to the content of the report, that making a decision in reliance on the report would be contrary to the welfare of the child.

Foster to Adopt Placements for Adoption in Utah

Citation: Ann. Code § 62A-4a-602

Beginning May 1, 2000, the division, as a licensed child-placing agency, may not place a child in foster care with any individual or individuals that would not be qualified for adoptive placement pursuant to the provisions of §§ 78B-6-117, 78B-6-102, and 78B-6-137.

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Vermont

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Vermont

Citation: Code of Rules § 13-162-005

The study must include all family members.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in Vermont

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, § 2-202

A preplacement evaluation may be prepared only by a person who is qualified by the department to make the evaluation or who meets the qualifications of an evaluator and is appointed by the court.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Vermont

Citation: Code of Rules § 13-162-005

The prospective adoptive family must be able to meet the child’s needs

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Vermont

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, § 2-203

A preplacement evaluation shall be based upon a personal interview and visit at the residence of the person being evaluated and personal interviews or correspondence with others who know the person and may have information relevant to the evaluation.

A preplacement evaluation shall contain the following information:

·      Age, nationality, racial or ethnic background, and any religious affiliation

·      Marital status and family history, including the age and location of any children and the identity of and relationship to anyone else living in the household

·      Parenting experience

·      Physical and mental health, and any history of alcohol or drug abuse

·      Education and employment history

·      Property, income, and outstanding financial obligations

·      Any previous requests for an evaluation or involvement in an adoptive placement and the outcome of the evaluation or placement

·      Whether the person has been subject to an abuse prevention order, charged with or convicted of domestic assault, the subject of a substantiated complaint filed with the department, or subject to a court order restricting the person’s right to parental rights and responsibilities or parent-child contact with a child

·      Whether the person has been convicted of a crime other than a minor traffic violation

·      Whether the person has located a parent interested in placing a child with the person for adoption and, if so, a brief description of the parent and the minor

·      The reason for and attitude about adoption

·      Whether the person is in noncompliance with a child support order

·      Any other fact or circumstance that may be relevant in determining whether the person is suited to be an adoptive parent, including the quality of the environment in the home and the functioning of other children in the household

The applicant shall submit to fingerprinting and sign a release permitting a criminal background check.

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Vermont

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, § 2-204

If an evaluator determines that the information assessed raises a concern that placement of any minor, or a particular minor, in the home of the person would pose a risk of harm to the physical or psychological well-being of the minor, the evaluator, on the basis of the original or any further investigation, shall find that the person is or is not suited to be an adoptive parent. The evaluator shall support the finding with a written explanation.

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Vermont

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, § 2-201

Except for placements with a relative or a stepparent, a person must have a favorable written preplacement evaluation before receiving a child for adoption. An evaluation is valid if it was completed or updated within the 12 months preceding the placement of the child with the person.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Vermont

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, §§ 3-601 through 3-603

No later than 5 days after an adoption petition is filed, the court shall order that an evaluation be made of the placement. The evaluation shall be based on a personal interview with the petitioner in his or her residence and observation of the relationship between the child being adopted and the petitioner.

The evaluation shall be in writing and contain:

·      An account of any change in the petitioner’s marital status or family history, physical or mental health, home environment, property, income, or financial obligations since the filing of the preplacement evaluation

·      All reasonably available information concerning the physical, mental, and emotional condition of the adoptive child that is not included in any report on the minor’s health, genetic, and social history filed in the proceeding for adoption

·      Copies of any court order, judgment, decree, or pending legal proceeding affecting the adoptive child, the petitioner, or any child of the petitioner

·      Any behavior or characteristics of the petitioner that raise a concern

·      A recommendation concerning the granting of the petition for adoption

The evaluator shall complete a written evaluation and file it with the court within 60 days after receipt of the court’s order unless the court for good cause allows a later filing. If an evaluation produces a concern, the evaluation shall be filed immediately, and shall explain why the concern poses a risk of harm to the physical or psychological well-being of the child.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Vermont

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, §§ 2-201; 4-110

A preplacement evaluation is not required if a parent or guardian places a child for adoption directly with a relative of the child, but an evaluation of the relative is required during the pendency of a proceeding for adoption.

After a petition for adoption of a minor stepchild is filed, the court may order that an evaluation be made by a qualified evaluator to assist the court in determining whether the proposed adoption is in the best interests of the child. Unless otherwise directed by the court, an evaluator shall base the evaluation on a personal interview with the petitioner and the petitioner’s spouse in the petitioner’s residence, observation of the relationship between the child and the petitioner, a personal interview with others who know the petitioner and may have information relevant to the examination.

An evaluation shall be in writing and contain the following:

·      The information required by § 2-203(d) and (e), concerning any background of criminal conviction and/or child maltreatment

·      The information required by § 3-602(b)(2) through (5), including the child’s health and social history

If the court does not order an evaluation, the preference of the minor who is younger than age 14 shall be taken into consideration, if the minor is mature enough to express a preference.

Whether or not an evaluation is ordered, the court shall obtain the petitioner’s background information, as required by § 2-203(d)(7)-(9).

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Vermont

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 15A, § 2-106

An adoption in this State of a minor brought into this State from another State by a prospective adoptive parent, or by a person who places the minor for adoption in this State, is governed by the laws of this State, including this title and the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

Foster to Adopt Placements for Adoption in Vermont

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

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Virgin Islands

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Virgin Islands

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 16, § 145 adoption petitioner must be studied as to his or her suitability to adopt a child.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in Virgin Islands

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 16, § 145

The Commissioner of Public Welfare shall submit a report and recommendation with respect to the proposed adoption.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Virgin Islands

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 16, § 145

The adoption petitioner must have sufficient ability and in all respects be a proper person to bring up the child and furnish suitable nurture and education.

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Virgin Islands

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

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Virgin Islands

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

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Virgin Islands

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

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Virgin Islands

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

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Virgin Islands

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

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Virgin Islands

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 34, § 121

Any out-of-home placement of a child to a State outside the Virgin Islands 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 for Adoption in Virgin Islands

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

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Virginia

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Virginia

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 22, § 40-280-20

All members of the household shall be interviewed as part of the home study, including children when appropriate.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in Virginia

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 22, § 40-280-20

The difference between completing a home study for a child placed by an agency and for a child placed by birth parents is in the role of the agency, not in the assessment of the adoptive family. In an agency placement, the agency approves or denies adoptive applicants based on agency standards. In a parental placement, the agency is to make a recommendation to the court regarding the suitability of the family to adopt. The recommendation is to be based on an assessment of whether the placement is contrary to the best interests of the child. The assessment is based on information gathered during the home study process.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Virginia

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 22, § 40-280-20

Adoptive applicants shall:

·      Be in satisfactory physical and mental health to enable them to provide adequate care for the child

·      Have the ability to assume responsibility for the care, guidance, and protection of other people

·      Have the flexibility and ability to change in relation to the needs of others

·      Be able to cope with problems, disappointments, and frustrations

·      Be able to accept normal hazards and risks

·      Have the capacity to take responsibility for one’s own actions

·      Have the capacity to accept and handle loss

·      Have the capacity to understand that adoption is a lifelong experience and that the family may need support over time

·      Have the capacity to accept professional support

·      Have the ability to realistically understand the needs and behaviors of children and the impact of adoption on the child and family

·      Have the ability to love and nurture a child born to someone else

·      Be willing to provide connections to the child’s birth family

·      Have the capacity for feeling satisfaction from contributing to the development of a child

·      Have the ability to understand and respond to changing developmental, health, and emotional needs of the child

·      Have the financial ability to meet the basic needs of the child and family for food, clothing, shelter, and medical care

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Virginia

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 22, § 40-280-20

The home study shall include:

·      There shall be a minimum of three interviews, including at least one interview in the home of the adoptive family and, in the case of married applicants, a joint interview with husband and wife.

·      In a parental placement, the agency social worker shall meet at least once with the birth parents and prospective adoptive parents simultaneously.

·      Adoptive applicants shall provide at least two references from individuals who are unrelated to them.

·      Adoptive applicants shall identify any criminal convictions and be willing to consent to a criminal records search and a search of the Child Protective Services Central Registry.

·      Applicants shall provide a physician’s statement that reflects their current health.

The home study shall include an assessment of the following:

·      Significant life experiences and the applicant’s responses to them

·      Relationships with family members and friends

·      Work history and involvement in community activities

·      The capacity of family members to accept the adopted child as an equal member of the family

·      The applicants’ capacity to parent

·      The applicants’ motivation and readiness to adopt

·      The ability to make a lifelong commitment to a child not born to the applicants

·      The ability to accept the circumstances of the child’s birth family history

·      The capacity to understand the lifelong impact of adoption and to help the child deal with adoption-related issues

·      The degree to which the home environment allows for privacy among family members; adequate play areas; and freedom from health and safety hazards

·      The accessibility of community resources that may be needed for the child

·      The financial circumstances of the family

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Virginia

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 63.2-1205.1; 63.2-1719

No petition for adoption shall be granted if the person seeking to adopt has been convicted of a sexually violent offense or an offense requiring registration as a sex offender.

An applicant shall not be approved if he or she has a conviction for a barrier crime, which includes:

·      Murder or manslaughter

·      Malicious wounding by mob

·      Abduction or abduction for immoral purposes

·      Assault and bodily wounding

·      Robbery

·      Carjacking

·      Threats of death or bodily injury

·      Felony stalking

·      Sexual assault

·      Arson

·      Drive-by shooting

·      Use of a machine gun or a sawed-off shotgun in a crime of violence

·      Pandering

·      Crimes against nature involving children

·      Taking indecent liberties with children

·      Abuse and neglect of children

·      Failure to secure medical attention for an injured child

·      Obscenity offense

·      Possession of child pornography

·      Electronic facilitation of pornography

·      Abuse and neglect of incapacitated adults

·      Delivery of drugs to prisoners

·      Escape from jail

·       Felonies by prisoners

In the case of adoptive homes approved by child-placing agencies, a barrier crime also includes convictions of burglary and any felony violation relating to possession or distribution of drugs.

An offense is a barrier crime and, in the case of adoptive homes approved by child-placing agencies, means:

·      A conviction of any other felony not included above unless 5 years have elapsed since conviction

·      A founded complaint of child abuse or neglect within or outside the Commonwealth

In the case of adoptive homes approved by child-placing agencies, convictions shall include prior adult convictions and juvenile convictions or adjudications of delinquency based on a crime that would be a felony if committed by an adult within or outside the Commonwealth.

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Virginia

Citation: Ann. Code § 63.2-1231; Admin. Code Tit. 22, § 40-280-20

Any home study conducted for the purpose of parental placement or agency placement shall be valid for a period of 36 months from the date of completion. However, the State Board of Social Services may, by regulation, require an additional State criminal background check before finalizing an adoption if more than 18 months have passed from the completion of the home study.

In regulation: A home study conducted for purposes of parental placements shall be approved for a period of 12 months from the date of completion.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Virginia

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 63.2-1208

After an adoption petition has been filed, the court shall refer the case to a child-placing agency to conduct an investigation and prepare a report. The investigation shall include inquiries as to:

·      Whether the petitioner is financially able, morally suitable, in satisfactory physical and mental health, and a proper person to care for and to train the child

·      The physical and mental condition of the child

·      Why the parents, if living, desire to be relieved of the responsibility for the custody, care, and maintenance of the child and what their attitude is toward the proposed adoption

·      Whether the parents have abandoned the child or are morally unfit to have custody over him or her

·      The circumstances under which the child came to live, and is living, in the physical custody of the petitioner

·       Whether the child is a suitable child for adoption by the petitioner

·      What fees have been paid by the petitioners or on their behalf to persons or agencies that have assisted them in obtaining the child

·      Whether the adoptive parents have received the report of the birth parents’ physical and mental health and the background, medical, and psychological records of the child

The report shall include a recommendation as to the action to be taken by the court on the petition.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Virginia

Citation: Ann Code §§ 63.2-1242 through 63.2-1242.3

For a stepparent adoption, an investigation and report shall be undertaken only if the circuit court in its discretion determines that there should be an investigation before a final order of adoption is entered.

A close relative placement is an adoption by the child’s grandparent, great-grandparent, adult nephew or niece, adult brother or sister, adult uncle or aunt, or adult great-uncle or great-aunt.

When the child continuously has lived with a close relative for less than 3 years, the adoption proceeding, including court approval of the home study, is subject to parental placement adoption provisions with the following exceptions:

·      The birth parent(s)’ consent does not have to be executed in court in the presence of the prospective adoptive parents.

·      A simultaneous meeting of birth and adoptive parents is not required.

·      No hearing is required for this proceeding.

·      A postplacement investigation and a report shall not be made if the home study report is filed with the court unless the court orders one.

·      The court may omit the probationary period and enter a final order of adoption.

·      The circuit court may waive appointment of a guardian ad litem for the child.

When the child continuously has lived with a close relative for 3 or more years, the parental placement provisions shall not apply. For adoptions under this section:

·      A postplacement investigation and report shall not be made unless the court orders one.

·      The court may omit the probationary period and enter a final order of adoption.

·      The court may waive appointment of a guardian ad litem for the child.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Virginia

Citation: Ann. Code § 63.2-1000

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 for Adoption in Virginia

Citation: Ann. Code § 63.2-1229; Admin. Code Tit. 22 §§ 40-211-10; 40-211-20

A foster parent may adopt the foster child that is placed in his or her home when:

·      The child has resided in the home of the foster parent continuously for at least 18 months.

·      The birth parents’ rights to the child have been terminated.

The circuit court shall accept the petition filed by the foster parent and shall order a thorough investigation of the matter to be made pursuant to § 63.2-1208. The court may refer the matter for investigation to a licensed child-placing agency other than the agency holding custody of the child. Upon completion of the investigation and report and filing of the consent of the agency holding custody of the child, the circuit court may enter a final order of adoption waiving visitation requirements, if the circuit court determines that the adoption is in the best interests of the child.

In regulation: A resource parent is an approved provider who is committed both to support reunification and to be prepared to adopt the child if the child and family do not reunify. When applicants are approved in accordance with regulations, they are approved as foster families, adoptive families, resource families, or respite families. The approved provider shall, however, be allowed to choose to provide only foster care, adoptive care, or respite care if they do not wish to serve as a resource family.

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Washington

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Washington

Citation: Rev. Code § 26.33.190

The study shall include the prospective adoptive parents and any adults living in the home.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in Washington

Citation: Rev. Code §§ 26.33.190; 26.33.210

The preplacement report may be completed by an agency, the department, an individual approved by the court, or a qualified salaried court employee.

The department or an agency having the custody of a child may make the preplacement or postplacement report on a petitioner for the adoption of that child.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Washington

Citation: Rev. Code § 26.33.140

Any person who is legally competent and age 18 or older may be an adoptive parent.

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Washington

Citation: Rev. Code § 26.33.190

The preplacement report shall be based on a study that includes an investigation of the home environment, family life, health, facilities, and resources of the applicant. The report shall include a recommendation as to the fitness of the applicant to be an adoptive parent. The report shall also verify that the following issues were discussed with the prospective adoptive parents:

·      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

·      If applicable, the relevance of the child’s relationship with siblings and the potential benefit to the child of providing for a continuing relationship and contact between the child and 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

All preplacement reports shall include a background check of any conviction records, pending charges, or disciplinary board final decisions of prospective adoptive parents. The background check shall include an examination of State and national criminal identification data including, but not limited to, a fingerprint-based background check of national crime information databases for any person being investigated. It also shall include a review of any child abuse and neglect history of any adult living in the prospective adoptive parents’ home. The background check of the child abuse and neglect history shall include a review of the child abuse and neglect registries of all States in which the prospective adoptive parents or any other adult living in the home have lived during the 5 years preceding the date of the preplacement report.

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Washington

Citation: Admin. Code §§ 388-06-0170; 388-06-0180

An applicant will be permanently disqualified if he or she has a felony conviction for any of the following:

·      Child abuse and/or neglect

·      Spousal abuse

·      A crime against a child, including child pornography

·      A crime involving violence, including rape, sexual assault, or homicide but not including other physical assault

The applicant will not be approved if it has been less than 5 years from a conviction for the following crimes:

·      Any physical assault not included above

·      Any sex offense not included above

·      Any felony conviction not included above

·      Felony violation of the following:

» The Imitation Controlled Substances Act, the Legend Drug Act, the Precursor Drug Act, or the Uniform Controlled Substances Act

» Manufacturing, delivering, or possessing a controlled substance with intent to deliver, or using a building for illegal drug-related purposes

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Washington

Citation: Rev. Code § 26.33.180

Except as provided in § 26.33.220, a child shall not be placed with prospective adoptive parents until a preplacement report has been filed with the court.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Washington

Citation: Rev. Code § 26.33.200

At the time the petition for adoption is filed, the court shall order a postplacement report made to determine the nature and adequacy of the placement and to determine if the placement is in the best interests of the child. The report shall be prepared by an agency, the department, an individual approved by the court, or a qualified salaried court employee appointed by the court.

The report shall be in writing and contain all reasonably available information concerning the physical and mental condition of the child; home environment, family life, health, facilities, and resources of the petitioners; and any other facts and circumstances relating to the propriety and advisability of the adoption. The report also shall include, if relevant, information on the child’s special cultural heritage, including membership in any Indian Tribe or band.

The report shall be filed within 60 days of the date of appointment unless the time is extended by the court. The preplacement report shall be made available to the person appointed to make the postplacement report.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Washington

Citation: Rev. Code § 26.33.220

Unless otherwise ordered by the court, a preplacement report is not required if the petitioner seeks to adopt the child of the petitioner’s spouse.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Washington

Citation: Rev. Code § 26.34.010

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 for Adoption in Washington

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

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West Virginia

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in West Virginia

Citation: Code of State Regs. § 78-2-13

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

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in West Virginia

Citation: Code of State Regs. § 78-2-13

The study shall be conducted by the child-placing agency

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in West Virginia

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

Adoptive parents shall be nurturing, responsible, patient, stable, flexible, mature, 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.

Adoptive parents must provide documentation that:

·      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 for Adoption in West Virginia

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

Adoptive parents shall provide the agency with the names 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 composition of the household and intra-family 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 for Adoption in West Virginia

Citation: Code of State Regs. § 78-2-13

An agency shall not approve an adoptive home:

·      If the adoptive parents have health, behavior, or emotional or psychological problems that may endanger the wellbeing of a child

·      Unless all references for the foster and adoptive parents are positive in nature

·      If any household member has any convictions other than minor traffic violations

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in West Virginia

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:

·      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 for Adoption in West Virginia

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

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

·      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 for Adoption in West Virginia

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

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in West Virginia

Citation: Ann. Code § 49-2A-1

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 for Adoption in West Virginia

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

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Wisconsin

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Wisconsin

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.837

The study shall include the petitioners and any other adults residing in the petitioners’ home.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in Wisconsin

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.88

The court shall order one of the following to conduct the investigation:

·      If an agency has guardianship of the child, the guardianship agency unless the agency has already filed its recommendation and has filed with the recommendation a report of an investigation

·      If no agency has guardianship of the child and a relative other than a stepparent has filed the petition for adoption, the department, a county department, or a licensed child welfare agency

·       If the child is a citizen of a foreign jurisdiction and is under the guardianship of an individual, the agency that conducted the home study required under Federal law prior to the child’s entry into the United States

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Wisconsin

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 48.82; 48.84

When practicable and if requested by the birth parent, the adoptive parents shall be of the same religious faith as the birth parents of the child being adopted.

No person may be denied the benefits of this subchapter because of a religious belief in the use of spiritual means through prayer for healing. If otherwise qualified, no person shall be denied the benefits of this section because the person is deaf, blind, or has other physical handicaps. No otherwise qualified person may be denied the benefits of this subchapter because of his or her race, color, ancestry, or national origin.

Before a child may be placed for adoption by a proposed adoptive parent who has not previously adopted a child, the proposed adoptive parent shall complete the preadoption preparation required under this section. The preparation shall be provided by a licensed child welfare agency, a licensed private adoption agency, the State adoption information exchange, the State adoption center, a State-funded foster care and adoption resource center, a State-funded postadoption resource center, a technical college district school, or an institution or college campus within the University of Wisconsin system. If the proposed adoptive parent does not reside in this State, he or she may meet this requirement by obtaining equivalent preparation in his or her State of residence.

The Department of Children and Families shall promulgate rules establishing the number of hours of preadoption preparation that is required and the topics covered under that preparation. The preparation shall include training on issues that may confront adoptive parents, in general, and that may confront adoptive parents of special needs children or foreign children.

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Wisconsin

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.88

When a petition to adopt a child is filed, the court shall order an investigation to determine whether the child is a proper subject for adoption and whether the petitioner’s home is suitable for the child.

If the petitioner was required to obtain a license to operate a foster home before placement of the child for adoption:

·      The agency making the investigation shall obtain a criminal history search from the records maintained by the

Department of Justice and request a fingerprint-based check of the national crime information databases.

·      The agency making the investigation shall obtain information maintained by the department regarding any substantiated reports of child abuse or neglect against the petitioner and any other adult residing in the petitioner’s home regarding substantiated reports of child abuse or neglect.

·      If the petitioner or other adult residing in the petitioner’s home is not now or has not been a resident of this State within the 5 years preceding the date of the search, the agency shall check any child abuse or neglect registry maintained by any State or other U.S. jurisdiction in which the petitioner or other adult is or was a resident within those 5 years.

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Wisconsin

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.837

In the case of a child on whose behalf adoption assistance payments will be provided, if the petitioner has been convicted of any of the offenses specified in § 48.685(5)(c), including murder, homicide, battery, sexual assault or exploitation, child abuse or neglect, incest, child prostitution, child pornography, or incest, the agency may not report that the petitioners home is suitable for the child.

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Wisconsin

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.837

When the proposed adoptive parent or parents of a child reside in this State and are not relatives of the child, a parent having custody of a child and the proposed adoptive parent or parents of the child may petition the court for placement of the child for adoption if the home is licensed as a foster home under § 48.62. At the request of a custodial parent and the proposed adoptive parents, the department, a county department, or a child welfare agency may place the child in the home of the proposed adoptive parent or parents prior to the filing of a petition.

After an adoption petition is filed, the court shall order an investigation. The agency making the investigation shall file its report with the court at least 10 days before the hearing on the petition.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Wisconsin

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

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Wisconsin

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 48.835; 48.88

A parent having custody of a child may place the child for adoption in the home of a relative of the child without a court order.

If a stepparent has filed a petition for adoption and no agency has guardianship of the child, the court shall order the department, a county department, or a licensed child welfare agency to conduct a screening, consisting of no more than one interview with the petitioner and a check of the petitioners background through public records, including records maintained by the department or any county department.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Wisconsin

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 48.837; 48.988

When the proposed adoptive parent or parents of a child reside outside the State and are not relatives of the child, a custodial parent and the proposed adoptive parent or parents of the child may petition the court for placement of the child for adoption in the proposed adoptive home if the home meets the criteria established by the laws of the other

State for a preadoptive placement of a child in the home of a nonrelative. An appropriate agency in the other State must complete an investigation of the home and file a report and recommendation concerning the home with the department, county department, or licensed child welfare agency.

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.

Foster to Adopt Placements for Adoption in Wisconsin

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 48.833; 48.88; Admin. Code DCF § 56.14

The department or a licensed child welfare agency may place a child for adoption in a licensed foster home without a court order if the proposed adoptive parents have completed the preadoption preparation required under § 48.84(1).

If the petitioner was required to obtain an initial license to operate a foster home before placement of the child for adoption, the agency making the investigation shall obtain a criminal history search and a child abuse and neglect records check. If the petitioner has been convicted of any of the offenses specified in § 48.685 (5) (bm) 1 to 4, the agency may not report that the petitioner’s home is suitable for the child.

In regulation: A foster parent who is licensed solely for the purpose of adoption of a domestic infant or a foreign child will not be required to complete the foster parent training if the foster parent completes the preadoption preparation training required under Admin. Code DCF § 51.10.

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Wyoming

Who Must Be Studied for Adoption in Wyoming

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 1-22-104

The petitioners for adoption may be ordered by the court to undergo a home study.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study for Adoption in Wyoming

Citation: Code of Rules § 049-040-001

The Department of Family Services shall take applications for adoption services for prospective adoptive families only when ordered to do so by a court of competent jurisdiction or through an Interstate Compact request. All other individuals and families requesting adoptive home study services are to be referred to child-placing agencies.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents for Adoption in Wyoming

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 1-22-103

Any adult person who has resided in the State during the 60 days immediately preceding the filing of the petition for adoption and who is determined by the court to be fit and competent to be a parent may adopt in accordance with this act.

Elements of a Home Study for Adoption in Wyoming

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 1-22-104; Code of Rules § 049-040-001

Adoption proceedings shall be commenced by a petition filed in district court. An affidavit from each petitioner shall be attached to the petition setting forth:

·      Any previous or current diagnosed psychiatric disorders of the petitioner

·      All felony convictions of the petitioner within the preceding 10 years

·      All misdemeanor convictions of the petitioner within the preceding 5 years

·      The current parole or probation status of the petitioner, if any

In regulation: If the department is ordered by the court to conduct an adoptive home study, the applicant is to provide the following:

·      Names, addresses, age, sex, race and nationality; education, work, and employment records; physical description; verification of marriage(s) and divorce(s); financial statement of assets, liabilities, and income; family members and others living within the home

·      Names and addresses of five references who have known the applicant for a minimum of 2 years

·      A general physical examination, completed within the year, including fertility/infertility studies

·      Autobiographies of each applicant

·      A statement as to the motivation to adopt and the types of children the applicant would consider

Applicants must document that they are residents of the State.

Following the receipt of the above, interviews both at the department field office and the applicant’s home shall be conducted to provide the information needed to complete an adoptive home study and to assist in the evaluation of the suitability of placement of a child for adoption in that home. Such interviews shall be conducted within the timeframe specified by the court order, but in no case shall the process exceed 6 months from date of application.

Further information may be required such as criminal history checks, psychological evaluations from a licensed psychologist, and central registry checks.

Grounds for Withholding Approval for Adoption in Wyoming

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 1-22-111

The adoption petition may be denied if the court finds that the best interests and welfare of the child will be served by such denial.

When Studies Must Be Completed for Adoption in Wyoming

Citation: Code of Rules § 049-040-001

The study must be completed within the timeframe specified by the court order.

Postplacement Study Requirements for Adoption in Wyoming

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 1-22-111

After the petition to adopt has been filed and a hearing held, the court, acting in the best interests and welfare of the child, may make any of the following orders:

·      Enter an interlocutory decree of adoption giving the care and custody of the child to the petitioners pending further order of the court

·      Defer entry of an interlocutory decree of adoption and order the department or a private licensed agency to investigate and report to the court the background of the child and of the petitioners, and the medical, social and psychological backgrounds and status of the consenting parent and putative father

·      Enter a final decree of adoption if the child has resided in the home of the petitioner for 6 months

After a written report of the investigation is filed, the court shall determine if the adoption by petitioners is in the best interests and welfare of the child and thereupon enter the appropriate order or decree.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions for Adoption in Wyoming

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

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements for Adoption in Wyoming

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 14-5-101

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 for Adoption in Wyoming

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

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