Can a Felon Adopt a Child? Adoption is a difficult process for many families in America today, especially for those thinking about adopting when they have felony convictions on their criminal record. First and foremost, the safety of the child is of utmost importance – in adopting a child, the intention is to give them a better life and a safe environment to grow up in.
A number of checks and assessments will be carried out for all individuals who wish to adopt, regardless of their background. If you have a felony conviction, a great deal of preparation may be necessary for completing the process to a level that shows you to be a desirable adoptive parent, however, so additional research (in addition to this article) is necessary.
As such, a number of factors for all families must be considered to help the child find the best chance of a successful adoption that they can.
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In the interest of safety, there are a number of crimes that almost certainly automatically disallow a person from adopting a child. These include felonies of child abuse or neglect, spousal abuse or domestic violence, a crime against children which includes the possession and / or distribution of child p0rn0graphy, a crime involving violence which includes rape, sexual assault, or homicide, as well as crimes which may not be considered felonies such as physical assault, battery, or drug-related crimes that have been committed in the previous 5 years.
Due to the nature of these crimes (and in particular the felonies), it is highly unlikely that an individual would be approved for the adoption process if they were found to have committed them. In particular, crimes against children will be considered most harshly as they are most likely to affect the life of any child who would be potentially brought into that environment.
It should be noted, however, that it is not always the case and, although unlikely, with appropriate evidence of reform and individual growth, it may be possible for someone who has been convicted of, for example, neglect or physical assault to find an adoptive child. Seek legal advice for how best to show that you are a reformed individual who can be trusted with a child and that you are not defined by a mistake or mistakes that you made in the past.
Criminal background check
Regardless of the state of your criminal record, a criminal background check will be carried out – this is true of those who have not committed any crimes in their past and is thorough in order to make sure that those who are recommended for the adoption process are trustworthy and appropriate candidates.
It should be noted at this point that it is important that you do not lie about your criminal past; you need to show that you are an honest and trustworthy member of society with good moral character – if you begin this process with a lie about your criminal past and try to hide your convictions, it will be held against you.
Remember as well that criminal background checks are thorough and nationwide, so any attempt to hide this will be futile and hinder any chances that you have from the very beginning. Fingerprinting will be carried out to match any potential adoptive parents to crime scenes in the past.
The national sex register will be searched for all individuals living in the home – even if the main applicant is not on the sex register, if there is any individual over the age of 18 who signs the sex register in the household it is highly unlikely that the application will be approved; this is very important moving forward as you must consider who you are living with and if that situation could be changed in order to best improve your chances of adopting.
The state child abuse records will also be checked for any history of crimes against children; if it was likely that a charge will be found on these records, it is highly unlikely that an individual will be allowed to continue with the adoption process.
In accordance with the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act 2006, all individuals who have committed sexual crimes against children are included on a centralized database that all states use – any individual on this database is almost certain to be turned down for the adoption process.
Restrictions for felons
It is not impossible, however, to adopt a child if you have a felony charge on your record. On applying to adopt, you will be assigned a home study social worker with who you can discuss how any criminal convictions could affect your chances of a successful adoption – ideally you will want to disclose the conviction, the nature of the crime, when and why it happened, how you have learned from the event and how you have subsequently changed yourself, and the steps that you have taken to correct your past mistakes.
Any rehabilitation courses or relevant recommendations from those who have worked with you since your conviction would be of great help at this point to help your case be approved. One of the better courses of action for a convicted felon would be to look into having the conviction expunged from their record when the option arises; this will show personal growth, a determination not to relapse to a life of crime, success in that determination, and positive contributions to society. If you feel this is an option for you, seek legal aid to help you find the best way to remove the crime from your criminal record.
When adopting a child, their safety is the most important thing that is considered by those who are responsible for organizing the adoption. A number of checks are performed beforehand and these include a fingerprint check, a national sex register check, and a state children abuse record check for all members of a household over the age of 18.
This is important – even if the main applicant is a person who has a felony against their name but is reformed if another member of the household would fail the above checks, the adoption process would fall through. Before beginning the process, think about who is in your home and see the general restrictions section to compare.
A home study is an important stage of the adoption process for those with or without felonies on their records, so be prepared to discuss everything about your living situation and how you believe the child will be affected positively or negatively by the process. These checks differ from state to state, so be sure to investigate specifically beforehand how the home study is carried out in your home state.
An investigation will generally be carried out into the physical, mental, and emotional health of all individuals over the age of 18 that reside in the potential adoptive home, as well as additional checks into the financial status of the home, the actual ability to care for a child, and any counseling any adults that live in the residence have received.
These are to determine the chances of successful adoption in terms of allowing the child to thrive; make sure you can explain how all of these factors are positive for an adoptee and how you can provide a good life for them.
If you have a felony on your record, you may consider going through a re-entry program – these are state-dependent in terms of what they offer to those leaving prison and also will provide you with necessary skills that you may not have developed due to jail time.
See your own state legislature to find out how to enroll in such a program. If you need to find a job to ensure the financial security of your household, there is a wealth of resources available in order to help felons find employment and possibly change careers if necessary.
Your ability to show that you can provide a safe and encouraging environment for your potential adoptive child is of utmost importance and before the process can begin, you must arrange things effectively to show you are an effective member of society.
So, Can a Felon Adopt a Child?
In short, yes, felons can adopt. Granted that the crime you have committed is not one that was directly harmful to a child and you have shown sufficient personal growth in the time since your conviction, there is no reason that you would be barred from finding an adoptive child.
With honesty about the nature of the crime that you committed, the reasons that led to you committing the crime, and how your life has changed since your conviction, you should be able to get a chance to show yourself as an excellent candidate for adoption.
Making sure that your life is in order – that’s to say, financial security; mental and physical health within the household, with support if necessary; and a home that is willing, safe, and ready to take on a child – is the first concern for a felon looking to adopt, so make sure that you look into state guidelines and find out if there are things that you still need to do.
In these trying times, there are many children searching for safe, secure homes to live in and you can continue to show yourself as a functional and effective member of society by giving them a place for them to thrive.