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Written by Nancy S
on February 16, 2015

adoption  If you are considering adoption you are probably wondering what the qualifications are to become an adoptive parent.  What will the social worker/adoption agency be looking at? As you research agencies and learn more about the adoption process you need to be sure you find the agency that fits your needs.  Family Connections, Inc. offers a free, no-obligation personal consultation to help you explore your adoption options.  Family Connections, Inc. is a New York State authorized adoption agency that has acheived Hague Accreditation through the Council on Accreditation. The agency offers home study services for both domestic and international adoptions.  Below is an outline that can help you better understand what the qualifications of prospective adoptive parents are.

An adoption home study investigation explores the following characteristics of prospective adoptive parent(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

  • Ability to risk and share the child’s past

  • Ability to understand the impact of the separation and loss that the child has experienced through adoption

  • Capacity 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

  • Ability to make a commitment to a child placed in the home

  • Ability to use community resources

 

In New York State, home study investigations review the following criteria to determine the eligibility of an individual or couple to be approved as adoptive parents.  Please understand that for international adoption, prospective adoptive parents may also need to meet the criteria established by the United State’s Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, the federal Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000, and criteria required by the country from which they are planning to adopt. 

  1. Age of Prospective Adoptive Parents:  At least one of the prospective adoptive parents must be at least 18 years old.  The individual(s) should have a reasonable expectation to live until the child's majority.  The agency seeks to determine whether the applicant is likely to be able to provide care for an adopted child until the child's majority and whether an applicant has the energy, flexibility, and other abilities to successfully fulfill these parental responsibilities in the best interests of adoptive children.  An applicant may be rejected where the agency's adoption study indicates a lack of such abilities.
  2. Health of Prospective Adoptive Parent(s)  Prospective adoptive parent(s) shall be in such physical condition that it is reasonable to expect him/her to live to the child's majority and to have the energy and other abilities needed to fulfill the parental responsibilities.  A report of a physical examination and a written statement from a physician regarding the family's (parents and children) general health, the absence of a communicable disease, infection, or illness or any physical or mental health condition(s) which might affect the proper care of an adopted child, shall be required by the home study provider.
  3. Marital Status of Prospective Adoptive Parent(s)  The marital status of the prospective adoptive parent(s) is not a factor in the acceptance or rejection as adoptive parent(s).  However, one married partner may not adopt without the other.  Two unrelated qualified adults (of different or same gender) living together can be approved as adoptive parents.  A single person can be approved as an adoptive parent.
  4. Fertility of Prospective Adoptive Parent(s) Prospective adoptive parent(s) may not be rejected for adoption because of his, her or their fertility (capacity to have biological children).  Applicant couples who wish to adopt because of a belief that one or both of them are infertile shall not be required to provide proof of infertility.  The significance of fertility as it relates to the desire to adopt shall be explored in the adoption process.
  5. Family Composition of the Prospective Adoptive Family  Prospective adoptive parent(s)’ family size and composition is considered 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.  The presence or absence of children or other adult household members (e.g. grandparents, adult children) in the prospective adoptive home shall not be a basis for rejecting prospective adoptive parent(s). 
  6. The Health and Safety of the Home of the Prospective Adoptive Parent(s)  The prospective adoptive parent(s)’ home will be inspected for safety and appropriate space for a child(ren).  The social worker will assess the sleeping and living space that will be available for the child.  The social worker will also determine if the home is safe and free of hazards, including the presence of working fire and carbon monoxide detectors, the proper storage of potential child hazards (e.g. medicine, cleaning supplies), the secured placement of firearms (if any), the safe lock and alarm systems for a pool, and other child-proofing safeguards (e.g. gated stairs, outlet covers, cabinet locks).
  7. Sexual Orientation or Gender of Prospective Adoptive Parent(s) Prospective adoptive parents may not be discriminated against or rejected as adoptive parents on the basis of sexual orientation or gender. 
  8. The Religion of the Prospective Adoptive Parent(s)  The religious beliefs of the prospective adoptive parents may not be discriminated against or considered in their approval or disapproval as adoptive parents.
  9. The Race of the Prospective Adoptive Parent(s)  The race and ethnicity of the prospective adoptive parents may not be discriminated against or considered in their approval or disapproval as adoptive parents. 
  10. The Financial Status of the Prospective Adoptive Parent(s)  The home study investigator (social worker) considers the prospective adoptive parents’ ability to budget their resources (income, assets, and liabilities) in such a way that a child placed with them can be reasonably assured of minimum standards of nutrition, health, shelter, clothing and other essentials.  An applicant whose budgeting and money management skills appear deficient to assure such minimum standards shall be referred to any available resources, which might improve these skills.  No prospective adoptive parent shall be rejected as adoptive parent(s) on the basis of low income.  However, for prospective adoptive parents wishing to adopt internationally they must maintain an income greater than 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or have assets that ensure the child’s financial stability.  
  11. Employment and Education of Prospective Adoptive Parent(s)  The employment, education, or volunteer activities of the prospective adoptive parents will be explored during the home study investigation but may not be a factor in the approval or rejection of an individual as an adoptive parent.
  12. The Stability of Employment and/or Residence of the Prospective Adoptive Parent(s)  Prospective adoptive parents with frequent changes in employment and/or residence shall not be rejected as adoptive parents, unless it is determined that such changes reflect an inability to provide for the well-being of a child to be placed in the home.
  13. The Parenting and/or Child Care Experience of the Prospective Adoptive Parent(s)  The home study investigator (social worker) will explore the prospective adoptive parents’ experience as parents or with caring for or educating other children.   If the prospective adoptive parent(s) lack parenting skills or knowledge of child care, the social worker will offer her/him/them opportunities to increase experience, knowledge and skills (e.g individual instruction, literature, face-to-face or on-line training, networking with experienced adoptive parents, etc).  However, no prospective adoptive parent will be rejected as adoptive parents solely on the basis of a lack of such experience. 
  14. The Social Networks and Community Support of the Prospective Adoptive Parent(s)  The prospective adoptive parents’ ability to locate and take advantage of human support (family, friends, church, etc) and organizational resources (e.g. medical services, therapies, educational resources, support groups, etc) to strengthen their capacity as parents will be assessed by the social worker.
  15. The Child Abuse and Maltreatment History of the Prospective Adoptive Parent(s)  The home study investigator will acquire child abuse and maltreatment history reports for each prospective adoptive parent and all other adult household members (e.g. adult children, grandparents).  For prospective adoptive parents planning to adopt domestically or internationally from Non-Hague Convention countries, child abuse and maltreatment history reports will be obtained from each State and country in which the prospective adoptive parents and adult household members have resided for the past five years.  For prospective adoptive parents planning to adopt a child internationally from a Hague Convention country, child abuse and maltreatment history reports must be received from each State and country in which the prospective adoptive parents and adult household members have resided since their 18th birthdays. If the prospective adoptive parent(s) and/or adult household member has been or is currently the subject of an indicated (aka founded) child abuse and maltreatment report, the home study provider agency shall determine on the basis of the information it has available whether to approve or reject the individual as an adoptive parent.  If the agency disapproves the individual(s) as an adoptive parent(s), giving the indicated child abuse report as a reason, the individual shall be informed of his/her right to a fair hearing.  Such fair hearing would be for the purpose of deciding whether the indicated report is sustained by a fair preponderance of the evidence and, if so, whether such person has been rehabilitated so that the health, safety, and welfare of a child will not be endangered if such person's application for adoption is approved. 
  16. The Vulnerable Persons Abuse or Maltreatment History of the Prospective Adoptive Parent(s) The home study investigator will screen each prospective adoptive parent and all other adult household members (e.g. adult children, grandparents) for the abuse or maltreatment of vulnerable persons (i.e. persons with special needs) through the Vulnerable Persons’ Central Register administered by the New York State Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs.  If a prospective adoptive parent or adult household member has been or is currently found responsible for serious or repeated acts of abuse and neglect in programs subject to the jurisdiction of the New York State Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs, the Agency shall determine on the basis of the information it has available whether to approve or reject the prospective adoptive parent(s).  If the Agency disapproves/rejects the prospective adoptive parent, giving the indicated report as a reason, the prospective adoptive parent shall be informed of his/her right to a fair hearing.  Such fair hearing would be for the purpose of deciding whether the indicated report is sustained by a fair preponderance of the evidence and, if so, whether such person has been rehabilitated so that the health, safety, and welfare of a child will not be endangered if such person's application for adoption is approved.
  17. The Criminal History of the Prospective Adoptive Parent(s)   The home study investigator will acquire state and national criminal history reports for each prospective adoptive parent and all other adult household members (e.g. adult children, grandparents).  For prospective adoptive parents planning to adopt domestically or internationally, criminal history reports will be obtained from the New York State Office of Children and Families Services (via the New York Division of Criminal Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation).  In addition, each prospective adoptive parent and adult household member must sign and have notarized a Sworn Statement of Criminal History disclosing any incidences of criminal activity in the United States or abroad. If a prospective adoptive parent or adult household member has a criminal history or is currently under investigation for an alleged crime, the home study provider agency shall determine on the basis of the information it has available whether to approve or reject the individual as an adoptive parent.  If the agency disapproves the individual(s) as an adoptive parent(s), giving the individual’s criminal history as a reason, the individual shall be informed of his/her right to a fair hearing.  Such fair hearing would be for the purpose of deciding whether the indicated report is sustained by a fair preponderance of the evidence and, if so, whether such person has been rehabilitated so that the health, safety, and welfare of a child will not be endangered if such person's application for adoption is approved.  In New York State, any individual who has been convicted of crimes involving violence, or endangering the welfare of a child are automatically disqualified as an adoptive parent.

Important Note:  Pursuant to New York State adoption law, United States Citizenship       and Immigration Services requirements, the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption and the federal Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000, applicants who wish to become adoptive parents and all adult household members (older than 18 years) in a prospective adoptive home must agree to disclose with candor and honesty all information pertinent to their adoption and personal history as required for their approval as adoptive parents. Adoptive parent applicants and any adult members of the household have a duty of candor and must: give true and complete information to the home study provider; disclose any arrest, conviction, or other adverse criminal history in the U.S. or abroad, even if the record has been expunged, sealed, pardoned, or the subject of any other amelioration; and disclose other relevant information, such as physical, mental or emotional health issues or behavioral issues.

 

For more information on adoption and the many options available to you please contact Anita or Renee at 607-756-6574, 1-800-535-5556 or info@adoptfamilyconnections.org.  We would be glad to help you explore your adoption options.  Family Connections, Inc. serves all of New York State from Binghamton to Syracuse, Buffalo to New York City and all areas in between.  To read more about adoption click on the link below to download our free magazine Family Connections click on the link below:

 

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