Reasons for a Home Study Adoption Denial
By Beverly Bird
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Anyone hoping to adopt a child might feel like their emotions are on tenterhooks as the long, intricate process unwinds. One of the most difficult parts of that process can be the home study. Virtually all adoptive parents, with the exception of stepparents and other relatives of the child, must go through it. They often feel like they have suddenly found themselves under a microscope. Even worse than going through one, however, is the possibility of being denied one because you have failed for some reason to qualify.
The federal government has legislative requirements in place that every adoptive family must meet before they are granted a home study. The Adoption and Safe Families Act, and Title IV-E of the Social Security Act, both prohibit any person convicted of felony child abuse or neglect, felony spousal abuse, or another violent crime from adopting a child. The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 requires that prior to a home study, you, your spouse and any other adult in your household submit to fingerprinting to check against national databases for any history of child abuse. Misdemeanor convictions are not usually held against you, especially if they happened in your youth, as long as you disclose them and don't try to hide them.
If you ever received treatment for a mental health condition that could affect your parenting abilities or potentially endanger the child, you may be denied a home study. Likewise, physical disabilities might also bar you from adoption and prevent the process from reaching the home study phase. Serious disabilities, such as anything that might prevent you from caring for the child in an emergency situation, can affect your chances. Any illness that might detract from your life expectancy might also be cause for denial.
Other Family Members
An adoption does not just involve you and your spouse. Anyone else who lives in your home will also come under scrutiny. The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act mandates that every adult in your home pass a criminal background check.
After the Home Study
Some information may come to light during the home study that would disqualify you as an adoptive parent. If you withhold or lie about any information in order to qualify for the home study stage of the adoption process, your adoption might well be denied after you've gone through the home study process. If you are attempting to adopt a child from another country and you conceal or lie about any such information, you will be denied the Form 1-800A that federal law requires for such an adoption. Other things a social worker will be looking into during the home study and that might eventually disqualify you include marital problems between you and your spouse, inadequate or dangerous housing for the child, or a recent death in the family or unsuccessful fertility issues that might color your reasons for adopting. In most cases, however, these reasons can be appealed.
Beverly Bird is a practicing paralegal who has been writing professionally on legal subjects for over 30 years. She specializes in family law and estate law and has mediated family custody issues.