Home Study Requirements for Prospective Parents in Domestic Adoption - Iowa

Date:

Who Must Be Studied

Citation: Admin. Code § 441-107.8(600)

The preplacement investigation shall include the applicants for adoption and each member of the applicants' household.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 600.8

The Department of Human Services, an agency, or a certified adoption investigator shall complete all required investigations and reports, including the postplacement investigation.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 600.4

A petition to adopt a child may be filed by any unmarried adult or a husband and wife together.

Elements of a Home Study

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 600.8; Admin. Code § 441-107.8(600)

A preplacement investigation shall answer the following:

  • Whether the petitioner's home is suitable for a child
  • How the petitioner's emotional maturity, finances, health, relationships, and any other relevant factor may affect his or her ability to accept, care for, and provide a child with an adequate environment
  • Whether the petitioner has been convicted of a crime in any State or has a record of founded child abuse

The investigation shall include an examination of the criminal and child abuse records of the petitioner, including the following:

  • Criminal, child abuse, and sex offender registries maintained by the State
  • Child abuse registries maintained by any other State in which the applicant has resided during the previous 5 years
  • National biometric identification-based criminal records

In regulation: The investigation shall include at a minimum two contacts, one face-to-face interview with the applicants and each member of the household, and at least one home visit. The assessment shall include the following:

  • Motivation for adoption
  • The family's attitude toward accepting an adopted child
  • Emotional stability and marital history
  • Ability to cope with problems, stress, frustrations, crises, separation, and loss
  • Medical, mental, or emotional conditions that would affect the applicant's ability to parent a child
  • Ability to provide for the child's physical and emotional needs and to respect the child's cultural and religious identity
  • Adjustment of birth children and previously adopted children
  • Capacity to give and receive affection
  • Statements from at least three references provided by the family and other unsolicited references
  • Income information
  • Disciplinary practices
  • History of abuse by family members
  • Assessment of the capacity to maintain other significant relationships
  • Substance use or abuse by family members and treatment

Grounds for Withholding Approval

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 600.8; Admin. Code § 441-107.8(600)

A prospective adoption petitioner shall not be approved if the petitioner has been convicted of any of the following felony offenses:

  • A drug-related offense within the 5-year period preceding the petition date
  • Child endangerment or neglect or abandonment of a dependent person
  • Domestic abuse
  • A crime against a child, including but not limited to, sexual exploitation of a minor
  • A forcible felony

The person making the investigation shall not approve a prospective adoption petitioner unless an evaluation has been made that considers the nature and seriousness of the crime or founded abuse in relation to the adoption, the time elapsed since the commission of the crime or founded abuse, the circumstances under which the crime or founded abuse was committed, the degree of rehabilitation, and the number of crimes or founded abuse committed by the person involved.

In regulation: If there is a record of founded child abuse or a criminal conviction for the applicant or any other adult living in the home of the applicant, the applicant shall not be approved to adopt unless an evaluation determines that the abuse or criminal conviction does not warrant prohibition of approval.

When Studies Must Be Completed

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 600.8; Admin. Code § 441-107.8(600)

The postplacement report shall be completed and filed with the court prior to the holding of the adoption hearing. A copy of the background information investigation report shall be furnished to the adoption petitioners within 30 days after the filing of the adoption petition.

The person making the investigation shall complete the preplacement investigation and report and approve the prospective adoption petitioner for a placement prior to any agency or independent placement of a child in the petitioner's home in anticipation of an ensuing adoption. A report of a preplacement investigation that has approved a prospective adoption petitioner for a placement shall not authorize placement of a minor person with that petitioner after 2 years from the date of the report's issuance.

In regulation: For the home study to remain valid, an update shall be completed no later than 24 months from the previous home study. The home study update shall include the following:

  • The child abuse and criminal history record checks, except for national criminal history checks, shall be repeated.
  • One face-to-face visit shall be conducted with the approved family annually.
  • The information in the approved home study shall be reviewed.
  • An updated report of the adoptive home study shall be written, dated, signed, and notarized, and a copy will be provided to the applicant.

The certified adoption investigator shall complete a minimum of one visit each year in the homes of families approved to adopt. The visit shall include, but not be limited to, an assessment of the following areas:

  • Home environment
  • Persons present at the time of the visit
  • Changes in the home or household members or other areas addressed in the home study

Postplacement Study Requirements

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 600.8; Admin. Code § 441-107.8(600)

A postplacement investigation and a report of this investigation shall do the following:

  • Verify the allegations of the adoption petition and its attachments
  • Evaluate the progress of the placement of the adoptee
  • Determine whether adoption by the adoption petitioner is in the best interests of the adoptee

In regulation: When an adoption investigator completes postplacement supervision, at least three visits to the adoptive family's home and personal observation of the child are required. Postplacement reports are to be written after each postplacement visit, with copies kept in the permanent family file retained by the investigator.

Postplacement supervision should assess the placement in the following areas:

  • Integration and interaction of the child with the family
  • Changes and adjustments that have been made in the family since the child's placement
  • Social, emotional, and school adjustment of the child
  • The family's method of dealing with testing behaviors and discipline
  • The degree to which the child is bonding and becoming a permanent member of the adoptive family
  • The behavioral, psychological, and mental health needs of the child
  • Services and supports that will assist the family

Postplacement visits shall be completed, at a minimum, as follows:

  • One no later than 30 days after placement
  • One no later than 90 days after placement
  • A final visit prior to requesting a consent to adopt, no later than 180 days after placement

Postplacement visits shall be completed as often as necessary if the adoptive family is experiencing problems, and the visits may extend to finalization or beyond 180 days if additional time is needed. A report based on the postplacement visits with recommendations regarding the finalization of the adoption shall be submitted to the court.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 600.8

Any investigation or report required under this section shall not apply when the adoptee is an adult or when the adoption petitioner is a stepparent of the adoptee. However, in the case of a stepparent adoption, the court may order an investigation. Additionally, if an adoption petitioner discloses a criminal conviction or deferred judgment for an offense other than a simple misdemeanor or founded child abuse report, the petitioner shall notify the court of the inclusion of this information in the petition prior to the final adoption hearing, and the court shall make a specific ruling regarding whether to waive any investigation.

The preplacement investigation and report may be waived by the court if the adoption petitioner is related within the fourth degree of consanguinity to the adoptee. However, if an adoption petitioner discloses a criminal conviction or deferred judgment for an offense other than a simple misdemeanor or founded child abuse report, the petitioner shall notify the court of the inclusion of this information in the petition prior to the final adoption hearing, and the court shall make a specific ruling regarding whether to waive any investigation or report.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 600.8

In the case of the adoption of a child by a person domiciled or residing in any other jurisdiction of the United States, any investigation or report required under this section that has been conducted pursuant to the standards of that other jurisdiction shall be recognized in this State.

The department or an agency or investigator may conduct any investigations required for an interstate or interagency placement. Any interstate investigations or placements shall follow the procedures and regulations under the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children. Such investigations and placements shall comply with the laws of the States involved.

Foster to Adopt Placements

This issue is not addressed in the statutes and regulations reviewed.

Links to Resources

State regulations