What Will Disqualify You From Adopting A Child?
So, you finally decided you want to do it. You’ve consulted with your partner, made pros and cons list, talked it over with your closest friends, looked up facts on the internet at weird hours of the night. You’ve hoped, prayed, and daydreamed about the process. Now you are researching agencies and you’re getting ready to go for it. You’re getting ready to begin the wonderful, but anxiety-inducing world of adoptive parenthood. Except you, probably like I, are worried that somehow the agency will find some way to deny you the joy of adoption. I will not lie to you, there are reasons your application or home study would be denied. While not being an exhaustive list, here is what will disqualify you from adopting a child.
1. A Criminal Record
A criminal record (in most cases) will automatically disqualify you as being eligible to adopt. It will not, however, prevent an expectant mother from choosing to place her child in an adoptive home. Mothers seeking an alternative choice for their children should not fear that their requests will be denied because they have a criminal record. Hopeful adoptive parents are dealt with stringently in an attempt to offer what is a sage option for a baby. In some instances, despite a criminal record, a lawyer could intervene on your behalf; but initially it could be difficult to get approved for any kind for a criminal record. Examples of things that would make it very difficult to be considered as an adoptive family:
- offenses against a person or family such as spousal assault or elder abuse
- public indecency (streaking, urinating in a public place, etc.)
- criminal solicitation of a minor
- failure to stop or report aggravated sexual assault of a child
- any offense committed in the past 10 years under:
- The Texas Controlled Substances Act
- Making a firearm accessible to a child (by not locking the gun up in a safe, or leaving it in an unlocked drawer where a child could get ahold of it.)
- Intoxication and alcoholic beverage offenses (DWI, public intoxication, etc.)
- any other felonies under the Texas Penal Code or any similar offense under the law of another State or Federal law that the person committed within the past 10 years
- 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
- if the applicant has ever been convicted of felony child abuse or neglect; spousal abuse; a crime against children (including child pornography); or a crime involving violence, including rape, sexual assault, or homicide, but not including other types of physical assault or battery
An exhaustive list by the Texas Health and Human Services can be found here.
2. Sex Offenders
All States will disqualify an applicant if any household members have been convicted of any crime that could potentially risk the safety and well-being of a child. In all states, an applicant may be disqualified if he or she has a child abuse registry record of substantiated or founded child abuse or neglect. In 17 States, a person will not be denied if they are listed on a sex offender registry.
3. History of Violence
If you have shown that you are violent or abusive in the past, that would be an example of what will disqualify you from adopting a child in Texas. The caseworker will interview close friends and family and get pretty deep into your past. If you have been a person who is known to have a bad temper or have been abusive to children or animals, you could be denied
4. Agency Requirements
If for some reason you don’t meet the requirements set by the agency according to a home study from a social worker, you could be disqualified from adopting a child. This was the most unnerving one for me and the reason that kept me up at night. I was afraid this meant if the caseworker didn’t like my personality or the look of my home, I’d get denied. That just isn’t the case. This can mean things like bug infestation and weird smells (gas smell, pet toileting smell, unwashed bodies smell, etc.), or unsafe situations in the home such as steep steps with no banister, lots of clutter on the floor, lack of access to clean, safe, running water, and toilets that flush.
5. Financial Stability
If you appear as if you cannot provide financially you will be disqualified to adopt a child in Texas. You will be required to submit pay stubs, budget, and examples that you can provide for yourself and any children in your care.
6. Major Life Events
In certain instances a death in the family by someone close to you (such as a parent, sibling, spouse, or child) you may be required to wait a year to go forward with any part of the adoption process. Large life events such as, but not limited to, a marriage, relocation, new jobs, being fired from a job, and things of that nature can temporarily disqualify you from adopting.
7. Fire Safety Inspection
You will need a fire safety inspection. That can be failed by the fire marshal. Some of the reasons that would happen are things such as lack of smoke detectors, inability to open at least one bedroom window in case of emergency, ladders for windows on the second floor, or any observed fire hazards. All of those and more are things that can disqualify you from adopting in Texas.
8. Pools and Trampolines
Swimming Pools and Trampolines in some agencies will disqualify you from adopting. I know this sounds ridiculous to some of you, while others are nodding along saying “of course.” It is a matter of perspective and in this case, the perspective that matters is your agency of choice. Swimming pools will need substantial measures taken to prevent accidental drowning. Trampolines will need a protective net, and other measures to prevent injury to a child. It is at the agency’s discretion to deny a home study based on a safety inspection that shows there is a pool or trampoline. However, it is possible that with guidelines in place you should not be barred from adoption. For specific questions about whether or not an agency currently has rules against swimming pools and trampolines find a local adoption discussion board or search a database of articles that are likely to address your specific concerns.
9. Miscellaneous Lifestyle Requirements
There are other reasons set by the agency that could disqualify you . You must be at least 21 years old. You may need to be under a certain age depending on the agency policies. You will need to provide references. Choose these people wisely. Their report on your personality can affect whether or not your home study is accepted or rejected. In most cases, you will need to have at least a high school diploma or GED. You will be required to share information about your lifestyle, details that are intimate about your relationships. If you are married or divorced you will need to show proof. If you cannot show proof you will not be allowed to adopt. You will be expected to put together a profile displaying yourself and family, pets, home etc. Pet vaccinations will need to be current, and you will need to provide proof. You will need a physical, fingerprinting, and a myriad of other metaphorical hoops to jump through to try and assure you are the best possible family for your potential child.
10. Failed Home Study
A bad home study could be the last thing standing between you and adoption. A large part of a home study is an interview process with a caseworker. The caseworker can and will ask you to answer many, many personal questions. They will inquire about your sex life, your marriage (if you are married), your relationship with your parents, and your relationship with any children you may have. During the interview, you or your partner may disclose something that the caseworker feels makes it inappropriate to continue with the adoption application process. While it could be utterly heartbreaking to consider that it could have a lifetime negative impact on a child if measures weren’t taken to ensure that the family they are entering is emotionally and mentally stable. No one is perfect. That isn’t the point. Adoption can be a miracle. It can be the best single thing that has ever happened to you. It can also lead to years and years of heartache if problems in the family are not addressed early on in the process.
To expectant mothers who are considering the possibility of selflessly placing their child in an adoptive home, it is tremendously important to know that their child will be offered more than they feel they are able to offer over the lifetime of the child. Generally speaking, most expectant mothers do not take the matter of choosing a family for their child lightly. In many cases, they are truly choosing a family that will be an extension of themselves. Could they see having Christmas together as you share baby’s milestones? Will she wonder if your big dog is dangerous or if he loves people? She may want to know if your home is one that looks inviting to others or if it is too formal for her lifestyle taste. These are some of the thousands of questions an expectant mom might be wondering about as she considers possibilities for a child they love but feel they cannot adequately care for.
Many, if not all, adoptions are open or semi-open nowadays. That means there is a very real possibility and expectation that you will be including several new people in your life. If it is a safe relationship, I am aware of several families in my community that invites their child’s biological family along for vacations, outings, and holidays. The bottom line is, while it seems like there are a great number of hurdles to jump and that there are many things to disqualify you from adopting a child, it is so necessary to make sure that a child is going to a good home, a home where people make consistently safe choices, have a community around them that will uplift them and help them when times are difficult, a home where there will always be food, shelter, and love. If you feel like you want to make the leap to adoption, I suggest you do your homework. Look for a well-reviewed, organized, Godly agency that cares deeply for expectant mothers, the babies they are bearing, and the potential adoptive families they serve. If you are a hopeful parent who has worked up the nerve to take the next step, consider the Gladney Center For Adoption. According to their website, their vision statement says, “For the sake of the children and those who love them, Gladney is dedicated to creating the finest adoption experience possible while forging new paths in serving the mission of adoption.”
With their adoption readiness questionnaire, you can see if you don’t have any of the 10 things that will disqualify you from adopting a child as part of your life. If you figure out you are ready to begin the process of adoption, Gladney can help you.
If you are an overwhelmed expectant mother who is looking for help and what her next steps might be, (or if you were worried about who could and could not potentially adopt) I suggest reaching out to Gladney here.
While the list can seem overwhelming, a trusted agency can take what seems an overwhelming task and make it easier for you. Finding an agency and a caseworker you can trust is key. Do not let yourself feel rushed into a decision because you are emotional or afraid. Research and ask questions. Be prepared to answer uncomfortable questions about yourself and the people around you. You may be surprised by the things you find out about yourself on the journey. Good luck.