Home Study Requirements for Prospective Parents in Domestic Adoption - Maine

Date:

Who Must Be Studied

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 18-C, § 9-304

The court shall request a background check for each prospective adoptive parent who is not the birth parent of the child.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 18-C, § 9-304

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services or a licensed child-placing agency will conduct a study and make a report to the court.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 18-C, § 9-301; Code of Rules § 10-148-019

Spouses or unmarried persons jointly or an unmarried person, whether resident or nonresident of the State, may petition the court to adopt a person of any age.

In regulation: Minimal requirements for acceptance shall include the following:

  • A settled conviction on the part of each member of the prospective adoptive family that they wish to adopt
  • An established, stable lifestyle with adequate support systems for a minimum of 2 years
  • Sufficiently good physical health that enables the adoptive parents to meet the needs of the child
  • Good mental and emotional health
  • Sufficient income to support the existing family and the child they wish to adopt

The applicants must be at least age 21 and legal residents of Maine. Their home must be kept clean and maintained in a condition ensuring health and safety. The home shall have adequate heat, light, and ventilation and have adequate family living space for the comfort of family members and for meals and recreation. The home must have a working telephone.

Each bedroom used by more than one child shall contain at least 40 square feet of floor space per child. A room used for one child shall contain at least 60 square feet of floor space. Separate beds and clean bedding must be provided for each child. Furniture must be comfortable and suited to the needs of the children. No adult residing in the household shall share a bedroom with a child over age 1. No child over age 5 may sleep in the same room with a child of the opposite sex.

All potentially harmful materials or tools and equipment must be stored in locked storage areas or kept in a place inaccessible to children. Firearms, including BB guns and air guns, shall be rendered inoperable, unloaded, and locked up to prevent unauthorized use. Ammunition and projectiles, such as arrows or other items that can be used to make a weapon operable, shall be locked separately.

Elements of a Home Study

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 18-C, § 9-304; Code of Rules § 10-148-019

The court shall request a background check for each prospective adoptive parent who is not a parent of the child. The background check must include a screening for child abuse cases in the records of the department and criminal history record information obtained from the Maine Criminal Justice Information System and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Each prospective parent who is not the birth parent of the child shall submit to having fingerprints taken.

In regulation: The applicant must submit the following:

  • A medical statement from a licensed physician based on an examination within 6 months
  • Financial data
  • Religious data
  • A minimum of three personal references unrelated to the applicants who have known the family long enough to make a judgment about them
  • Releases signed by each adult household member permitting the child-placing agency to request criminal history records and child protective information

The adoption study shall include the following:

  • At least one visit to the applicant's home
  • Individual interviews with the applicants, including any children in the family
  • Contact with a minimum of three references, at least one of whom must be seen in person

The adoption study must contain an assessment of the following regarding the applicants:

  • Motivation to adopt
  • Stability of the marriage of a couple (or the stability of the single applicant)
  • Feelings about adoption
  • Philosophy and practice on discipline and child rearing
  • Feelings toward birth parents, including their race and color if different from the applicants, and the background of the child
  • Religion and how it affects lifestyle
  • Finances and management of money
  • Relationship with extended family and the family's attitude toward adoption
  • Education and employment
  • Experience with children
  • Methods and effectiveness of communication
  • Physical, mental, and emotional health

Grounds for Withholding Approval

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 18-C, § 9-304

There is a rebuttable presumption that the petitioner would create a situation of jeopardy for the child if the adoption were granted and that the adoption is not in the best interests of the child if the court finds that any of the following applies to the petitioner for the adoption of a minor child:

  • Has been convicted of an offense listed in title 19-A, § 1653(6-A)(A) (child-related sexual offense) in which at the time of the offense the victim was a minor and the petitioner was at least 5 years older than the minor, except that, if the offense was gross sexual assault and the minor victim submitted as a result of compulsion, the presumption applies regardless of the ages of the petitioner and the minor victim at the time of the offense
  • Has been adjudicated of sexually abusing a person who was a minor at the time of the abuse

When Studies Must Be Completed

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 18-C, § 9-304

Upon the filing of a petition for the adoption of a minor child, the court shall request a background check of the adopting family. The investigation must be completed and a report submitted to the court within 60 days.

Postplacement Study Requirements

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 18-C, § 9-304; Code of Rules § 10-148-019

The court may require that a minor child subject to a petition for adoption live in the home of the petitioner for 1 year before the petition is granted and that the child, during all or part of this probationary period, be under the supervision of the department or a licensed adoption agency.

Before the adoption is decreed, the court shall ensure that the petitioners are informed that the transfer of the long-term care and custody of the child without a court order is prohibited under title 17-A, § 553(1)(C) and (D).

In regulation: The agency shall have a written signed agreement with the adoptive applicants stating the length of the probationary period. The probationary period shall be at least 6 months. The child and family shall be seen within 3 weeks of placement and at least within each 2 months thereafter during the probationary period. At least two of the visits shall be in the adoptive home and shall include both parents.

The agency shall ensure that the applicants understand the importance of telling the child he or she is adopted and shall review with the applicants how that will be done.

By the end of the probationary period a decision must be made as to whether the agency will consent to the adoption. The decision shall be based on the following factors:

  • The physical and emotional adjustment and development of the child
  • The capacity of the adoptive parents to assume the role of parent with respect to the needs of the child

When the agency decides that it will consent to the adoption, it shall give the adoptive parents, in writing, pertinent facts about the child's health development and background. If the agency does not consent to the adoption, the agency shall immediately make an alternate plan for the child. This plan and its implementation shall be in the best interests of the child.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 18-C, § 9-304

If the petitioner is a relative of the child or the spouse or domestic partner of the child's parent, the court may waive the requirement of a study and report.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 22, § 4255

Prior to sending a child to another State for placement, the public child-placing agency in the sending State shall provide a written request for assessment to the receiving State. Upon receipt of a request from the public child welfare agency of the sending State, the receiving State shall initiate an assessment of the proposed placement to determine its safety and suitability. If the proposed placement is a placement with a relative, the public child-placing agency of the sending State may request a determination of whether the placement qualifies as a provisional placement. The public child-placing agency in the receiving State may request from the child-placing agency in the sending State, and is entitled to receive, supporting or additional information necessary to complete the assessment.

Foster to Adopt Placements

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

Links to Resources

State regulations