A home study, criminal history report, and child abuse registry check are important parts of the adoption pre-placement evaluation process in Utah.
Before an adoption petition is finalized, a prospective parent will need to submit an adoption evaluation assessing the prospective adoptive parent and the prospective adoptive home. Much of the evaluation remains the same if the parent doesn’t live in Utah, but some aspects are different. An experienced adoption attorney can help you navigate the confusing legal aspects of adoption.
The adoption pre-placement evaluation contains three parts: a criminal history background check for every adult living in the prospective home, a report regarding any reports of child abuse for every adult living in the prospective home, and a home study carried out by an approved professional.
Adoption Criminal History Check
The criminal history background check must be prepared no earlier than 18 months before the placement of the child. An adoption agency or an attorney representing the prospective parent must submit fingerprints from the prospective parents and all other adults living the household. Utah’s Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI), part of the Division of Public Safety is responsible for maintaining criminal history information. BCI can provide a copy of the criminal history report for each individual required to submit a report for the adoption.
If a prospective adoptive parent or other adult in the household has been convicted of crimes, the court may be permitted to dismiss the petition for adoption. Not all crimes will disqualify a person from becoming an adoptive parent. An experienced attorney can help in presenting mitigating information regarding prior criminal charges and improve your chances of successfully completing the adoption process.
DCFS Child Abuse Report and Registry
The child abuse report from Utah’s Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) will contain all information regarding reports and investigations of child abuse, neglect, and dependency. A separate report must be obtained for every adult living in the prospective home. Like the criminal history background check, the report must be obtained no earlier than 18 months before the placement of the child.
Prospective parents who reside in another state should have this report prepared by their home state’s Department of Human Services (or other similar agency).
Adoption Pre-Placement Home Study
The home study is a written document prepared by an adoption service provider. A person who is licensed as one of the following can serve as an adoption service provider for purposes of conducting a home study:
- a psychologist;
- a clinical social worker;
- a certified social worker;
- a marriage and family therapist;
- a clinical mental health counselor;
- a social service worker if supervised by a certified or clinical social worker;
- an Office of Licensing employee within the Department of Human Services who is trained to perform a home study;
- or an expert in family relations approved by the court.
The home study must include a recommendation to the court regarding the suitability of the prospective parent, a description of in-person interviews with the prospective parent and other people in the home, a description of the character of the prospective parent by at least two people unrelated to the prospective parent and at least one by someone who is, a medical history and doctor’s report based on a doctor’s examination of the prospective parent, and a description of a home inspection.
Special Needs Requirements
If the child has special needs, the pre-placement adoption evaluation needs to be conducted by the Department of Human Services or another child-placing agency approved to conduct evaluations for children with special needs.
Exceptions to the Adoption Pre-Placement Evaluation
There are some cases where the evaluation does not need to be completed. The most common exception involves adoption by a step parent. The adoption pre-placement evaluation also is not needed when a pre-existing parent has custody of the child and the prospective parent is related to the child or pre-existing parent as a sibling, grandparent, aunt or uncle, or first cousin.
Finding an Adoption Attorney in Utah
The legal processes involved in completing an adoption in Utah can seem daunting. A Utah adoption attorney can help you reduce the frustrations of dealing with the legal system so that you can focus on what is most important – becoming a new parent.
Contact us today, and let us help with your adoption.