Home Study Requirements for Prospective Parents in Domestic Adoption - Alabama

Date: August 2020

Who Must Be Studied

Citation: Ann. Code § 26-10A-19(a)

A preplacement investigation shall be made to determine the suitability of each petitioner and the home in which the adoptee will be placed.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study

Citation: Ann. Code § 26-10A-19

A preplacement investigation or a postplacement investigation must be performed by one of the following:

  • The Department of Human Resources
  • A licensed child-placing agency
  • An individual or agency licensed by the department to perform investigations
  • A licensed social worker

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents

Citation: Admin. Code R. 660-5-22-.03(6)

General requirements for applicants include the following:

  • Both husband and wife must be at least age 19.
  • Applications may be accepted from single persons.
  • Married applicants must have been married at least 3 years.
  • Applicants and members of their household age 19 and older are required to be fingerprinted and have criminal records checks.
  • The family should have sufficient income and savings to meet its needs and provide for the child or children without difficulty.
  • All family members must have medical reports indicating they are in good health.
  • The department must have assurance that the adoptive parents are willing to provide medical treatment to children as recommended by a licensed physician.
  • Applications may be accepted from persons of any religious faith.
  • Applications may be accepted from persons who currently live in Alabama and who expect to remain in Alabama long enough to complete the application process.
  • Either the prospective father or mother must be a U.S. citizen.
  • Race or national origin will not be used as a single or exclusive criterion.

Elements of a Home Study

Citation: Ann. Code § 26-10A-19; Admin. Code R. 660-5-22-.03(7)

The investigation shall include a criminal background investigation and a review of any other circumstances that might be relevant to the placement of an adoptee with the petitioners. The investigation of the adoptive parents must include the following:

  • The suitability of each petitioner, and his, her, or their home for the adoptee
  • Any orders, judgments, or decrees affecting the adoptee or any children of the petitioner
  • Criminal background investigations
  • The costs and expenses connected with the adoption
  • Any other circumstances that may be relevant to the placement of the adoptee with the petitioners

In regulation: The home study will consist of the following elements:

  • At least one home visit as well as individual interviews with the applicant(s)
  • Information on the adoptive couple or person, including reasons for adopting and family background
  • Interviews with at least two references after it is reasonably certain that the applicant(s) will be recommended for approval
  • A diagnostic evaluation including a recommendation of the type of child as well as future plans for the applicant(s)
  • Completion of adoption training as outlined in regulation

Grounds for Withholding Approval

Citation: Admin. Code r. 660-5-22-.03

No home can be approved in which any adult who lives in the household has been convicted at any time of any of the following:

  • A sex-related crime
  • Serious, intentional, reckless, or negligent physical injury, danger, or death of any person
  • A crime against a child
  • A crime involving major intrusion upon property or use of a weapon to secure property
  • Arson
  • The manufacture, sale, distribution, use, or possession of controlled substances or alcohol

Exceptions can be made for some convictions that have occurred in the past when there is credible documentation of rehabilitation. No exception will be granted when there is a criminal conviction involving a sex-related crime against a child or serious, intentional, reckless, or negligent physical injury or death of a child.

When Studies Must Be Completed

Citation: Admin. Code R. 660-5-22-.04

A child may not be placed in a prospective adoptive home prior to completion of a preplacement investigation of the petitioners and their home. The preplacement investigation must have been completed within 24 months of the placement of the child.

Postplacement Study Requirements

Citation: Ann. Code § 26-10A-19

In every adoption proceeding after a child has been placed in the home, a postplacement investigation must be conducted as soon as possible after notice of the placement but within 45 days after the placement.

In the investigation, an investigator must observe the adoptee and interview the petitioner in their home to verify all allegations of the petition. The report shall include (1) sufficient facts for the court to determine whether there has been compliance with consent or relinquishment provisions and (2) all of the information enumerated above that was not obtained in the preplacement investigation.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 26-10A-27; 26-10A-28

Unless otherwise directed by the court, no investigation shall be required when a person seeks to adopt his or her spouse's child.

Unless otherwise directed by the court, no investigation is required when a grandfather, grandmother, great-grandfather, great-grandmother, great-uncle, great-aunt, brother, half-brother, sister, half-sister, aunt, or uncle of the first degree and their respective spouses seek to adopt a minor grandchild, brother, half-brother, sister, half-sister, nephew, niece, great-grandchild, great-niece, or great-nephew.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 26-10A-35; 38-7-15

The person or agency bringing the child into the State to be adopted must first obtain the consent of the department. The department is authorized to designate an agency in the other State to interview the child's parent(s) to obtain social, background, and medical information about the child.

The department shall be authorized to make a thorough investigation of the proposed parents and their home to determine whether they are financially able, physically able, and morally fit to have care, supervision, training, and control of the child.

If the child, subsequent to being brought into the State, becomes dependent, neglected, or delinquent prior to his or her adoption or becoming of legal age of majority, the child shall be subject to the laws of Alabama as if he or she were a resident child of the State.

Foster to Adopt Placements

Citation: Admin. Code R. 660-5-22-.03(10)(b), (11)

The decision whether the foster home will be approved as the child's adoptive home will be a decision of the department based upon the following factors:

  • The child's attachment to the foster parents
  • The length of time the child has been in the home
  • The age of the child in relation to the age of the foster parents
  • The health and income of the foster parents
  • Involvement/interference from the birth family
  • The appropriateness of the foster home placement

The approved adoptive family must be issued a foster home approval for the particular child to be placed unless the resource is already an approved foster home.

Links to Resources

Adoption Checklist (webpage) (Alabama Department of Human Resources)

State regulations