What should I worry about?
If you have a medical, financial, or criminal record that you fear might result in an unfavorable home study, don’t wait to mention it. If you plan to adopt internationally, your social worker can steer you to a country that is more likely to be accepting, and can address your situation in the home study in a way that’s consistent with the country’s cultural values and requirements.
Home Study Problems
- Conviction record: Misdemeanors stemming from youthful indiscretions usually aren’t held against prospective adopters, although a social worker will want to know if your past behavior is truly past. If you have a DUI on your record, for instance, she’ll ask if you went through a rehabilitation program, and what your current drinking habits are. If you have committed a felony, the U.S. government won’t approve you to adopt internationally, and you will have trouble finding a domestic agency that will accept you.
- Health problems or disabilities: An agency will want to know that you can care for a child long-term. If you’re in the middle of medical treatment or have a condition that threatens your life expectancy, you may be prevented from adopting. If you have a medical condition that is under control (for instance, high blood pressure or diabetes that is controlled by diet and medication), you may still be approved as an adoptive family. If your family has sought counseling or treatment for a mental health condition in the past, you may be asked to provide reports from those visits.
- Financial problems: A history of bankruptcy, high debt, or failure to pay child support could be cause for denial. But you don’t have to be rich to adopt; you just have to show you can manage your finances responsibly and adequately. If you’re adopting internationally, some countries have specific income requirements.
What if I am rejected?
In the unlikely event that your social worker doesn’t approve you, the first thing to do is appeal to the head of his or her agency to make sure it’s not a matter of personal chemistry or just a quirk of your worker (it’s been known to happen). Next, check with your online support group: have other people in your situation been approved? If so, by whom? If there’s no absolutely objective reason for your rejection, apply to another agency.