I posted previously about one mother’s horror story surrounding her daughter’s adoption. One of the topics I touched on was the background checks given to prospective adoptive parents during the adoption process. Since the case I wrote about was from several decades ago, I decided to do some investigative work into the current standards that prospective adoptive parents must live up to if they wish to gain the approval from the government to adopt a child.
The law in the United States says that federal will set standards where state does not. In other words, the federal standards are the minimum that must be upheld. If states wish to enact other regulations of their own they are free to do so as long as it doesn’t infringe on anyone’s Constitutional rights or contradict the federal law. Because of this, let’s first explore the current federal law in regards to background checks for prospective adoptive parents.
Before 1997, no prospective adoptive parent was required, federally, to undergo a background check in order to become a foster parent receiving payments from the state. Some states and agencies may have required it, but it was not mandatory to foster a child. If someone wanted to become a foster parent and get out of the background check because they did, indeed, have a criminal history, all they would have to do is move to a different state that was as unregulated as the federal government was at the time. 1997, folks. 18 years ago. We have only been requiring background checks on foster parents for 18 years. What about for prospective adoptive parents? Oh, that’s even worse. Until 2006 there was no federal law stating that a fingerprinting would have to take place for any family wishing to adopt a child. And the only reason it is being done now is thanks to the Adam Walsh Child and Protection Safety Act. It was added as an amendment to the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997.
You would assume that nobody would be allowed to adopt a baby if they have ever been found guilty of assault or battery, correct? We all make mistakes but surely with something so important as a birthmother trusting an agency/government with the life of her child it would be best that being found guilty of any kind of assault or battery would automatically rule you out. You would think, wouldn’t you? Let’s look at what would disqualify you. Any crime against a child, spousal abuse, or any crime including violence such as rape, homicide, or sexual assault. What is acceptable? Other types of physical assault or battery. Such as, you went and beat your neighbor with a shovel because his music was too loud. You’re perfectly okay to adopt a baby. As long as that conviction was more than 5 years ago. Oh, and that drug problem you were convicted of 5 years ago? It’s all good. As long as it was 5 years ago. Make sure you don’t get busted again if you want to adopt! Other charges such as larceny, robbery, embezzlement, arson, illegal use of weapons…they’re all okay. No need to worry. The only things specifically in the federal law that will disqualify you from ever adopting are the things I listed above. Let your imagination soar.
Let’s not forget that some states do not even require a federal background check, just a state. Fun!
I’m sure I’ll get some adoptive parents on here saying, “People have babies all the time who have assaulted someone and no one takes their kid away! How can you hold adoptive parents to a higher standard than natural parents?” Oh, I can and I will and you should, too.
A woman is voluntarily entrusting her child to you. Most times this means she would not have the financial capability, on her own, to hire a private investigator and conduct criminal background checks for the prospective adoptive parents of her child. She is trusting in the government (laws) and the agency or attorney to make sure that these parents she has picked have been vetted appropriately. Like it or not, it’s her child and her right to decide if she doesn’t want to hand over her baby to someone who was convicted of battery 5 years ago. I know I wouldn’t. There are other people out there who never had an assault conviction and I’d rather not take the risk of my child ending up in a quick-tempered household. Don’t like it? Too bad.
I wonder how many birthmothers are aware of this loop hole in the vetting of adoptive parents. I wonder how many expectant mothers considering adoption are aware of this. Did you know the parents you picked out could possibly be criminals?
In addition to the federal requirements of fingerprinting and a federal background check, the law does require an inquiry into the state’s criminal records and other databases such as sexual offenders. This is good. And each state has their own laws. In some states the law is stricter and would NOT allow someone with a conviction for assault or battery to adopt a baby. But, at the federal level, we still allow this.
Remember those “other crimes” I mentioned above that were perfectly okay to pass a criminal background check to adopt a baby? Some states have enacted their own laws to say, “No, that’s not okay.”
Alaska is super fun. It requires a check into the sex offender registry for adoptive placements, but not foster. Go Alaska!
It really is quite eye-opening to see exactly who is allowed to adopt or foster children in this country. Hearing some of the horror stories from adoptees over the years I am not a bit surprised. This is a travesty. Expectant mothers are vulnerable, scared, and are trusting that adoptive parents have been properly vetted. No one ever brings her into the background check process. No one shares the home study with her. No one. They tell her she is in control and that they are to just trust them.
Let me ask you a question. Who has a bigger vested interest in making sure that their child has THE best home possible? The agency that’s banking $40,000 off the baby or the mother who is so painstakingly trying to do the right thing by her child. Who? Who cares more? Why in the world are we allowing criminals to adopt babies? Why are we not telling expectant mothers these things? Again, it’s all about the money. Follow the fucking money.