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Can a Felon Adopt a Child?

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Felons are typically incarcerated for a number of years.

During this time, they are separated from their families.  All involved suffer from this time apart.

Felons long to be home as they are missing time with their spouse, significant other, and their kids.

For some though, spouses may divorce them as a result of their conviction, leaving them because they feel unable to trust them and anticipating that the future will not be any better.

Then there are those felons who have a spouse or significant other but have no kids.

When felons do return home, they often desire to start a family, having children.

Just as with other couples who are unable to have a baby and decide to adopt, felons’ thoughts and desires may run along the same lines.

Does having a felony conviction prevent felons from being able to adopt?

This blog post will address the issue of whether felons are able to adopt a child.

  • Criteria for Adopting
  • Considering Each Member of the Household
  • Home Study
  • Encouraging Felons Who Want to Adopt

Criteria for Adopting

On the surface the answer would appear to be no.  After all, so many rights and opportunities are lost or taken away as a result of their criminal record.  Why would this be any different?

It may seem that adopting a child would rank right up there with finding a job.  That certainly is difficult enough, right?

As with anything else pertaining to felons, the question of being able to adopt is not an easy one to answer.

The reply is as usual, it depends.  Doesn’t it always depend on something, most often something that is out of their control?  It is something that they can’t have.

Well, not so quick there.

The issue of felons being able to adopt a child depends on the state where they reside as each state has its own criteria.

Generally, regulations for adopting a child specify that any applicant who has been convicted of a felony involving child abuse or neglect, spousal abuse, a crime against children (including child pornography), a crime involving violence (including rape, sexual assault, or homicide) are not eligible to adopt a child.

They may also not have been convicted of a felony for physical assault, battery, or a drug-related offense within the past five years.

Ok.  It is possible.

Considering Each Member of the Household

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act was passed originally in 1974 and updated most recently in 2010.

It states that not only do these felony provisions pertain to applicants but to all persons over 18 years of age residing in the potential adoptive home.

That means that the background of each person over 18 in the household is considered, and all of them are subject to these stipulations.

Typically, fingerprinting and a national sex register search is conducted.

Actually that makes a lot of sense.  An adopted child would be living with and influenced by everyone living in the home.

While this may seem strict, the child’s welfare is most important.  Would a child be safe living where there is a significant criminal element?

That isn’t all though.  There is another law passed to protect the welfare of children stating that state child abuse records must accessed also.

That law is the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 and applies to each person in the home older than 18.

This law states that a State record search must be conducted covering child abuse records in all States in which persons over 18 in that household have lived in the past five years.

Wow, isn’t that a lot?

Of course that is a lot of background to check, but the question is how important is it to be able to adopt a child, especially for a childless felon couple?

Home Study

Following the criminal background check, a home study is also conducted for felons’ homes, just as it is for non-felons.

The goal is to ensure that any home into which an adopted child is placed must be considered safe.

A home study is somewhat different depending on the state involved.

Typically, the important issues concern the physical, mental, and emotional status of all adults in the home.

Also, the condition of the home, the financial standing of the applicants, their ability to care for a child, and any counseling in which the applicants have been involved.

This is where it is to the felons’ advantage to have completed all terms of their sentence, including probation.  Then having gone through a re-entry program would be helpful, along with other rehabilitation efforts.

An essential point here is to do what it takes to find a job.  This includes getting more education or training for new job skills.  Remember the success stories from the Guide to Getting Employment.

This is also when having their record expunged would help present a stronger case for re-establishing an honest life.

Encouraging Felons Who Want to Adopt

Families of felons are usually very invested in adopting a child and creating a loving family.

Stand by your loved one.  Encourage them and help them do what it takes to seek approval for adoption.

This can be a frustrating, discouraging process to go through.

But to adopt that child to love and guide them in how to live a clean, honest life will be a vital reward.

What do you think about this blog post?  Have you or someone you know tried to adopt a child as a felon?  What was that like for them, and what happened?  Please tell us in the comments below.

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