Home Study Requirements for Prospective Parents in Domestic Adoption - Minnesota

Date: August 2020

Who Must Be Studied

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 259.41

The background study must be completed on each person older than age 13 living in the home. The required background study must be completed as part of the home study.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 259.41

The study and report shall be completed by a licensed child-placing agency and must be thorough and comprehensive.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents

Citation: Admin. Code R. 9560.0140

When determining the suitability of prospective adoptive parents, the child-placing agency shall consider, at a minimum, the following:

  • The applicant shall be primarily motivated to meet the child's needs, emotionally mature with healthy interpersonal relationships, in good physical and mental health, and able to adequately support and parent a child in a healthy and emotionally secure environment.
  • The applicant shall have the capacity to accept and incorporate into the family a child born to other parents and to assist the child in understanding the child's genetic background and adoption.
  • The applicant must not be delayed or denied the opportunity to adopt based on the race, color, or national origin of the applicant or the child involved.

Elements of a Home Study

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 259.41; 245C.33

The adoption study must include at least one in-home visit with the prospective adoptive parent. At a minimum, the study must document the following information about the prospective adoptive parent:

  • A background study that includes the following:
    • An assessment of the data and information obtained through criminal records checks to determine if the prospective adoptive parent and any other person older than age 13 living in the home have a felony conviction consistent with 42 U.S.C. § 671(a)(2)
    • An assessment of the effect of any conviction or finding of substantiated maltreatment on the capacity of the prospective adoptive parent to safely care for and parent a child
  • A medical and social history and assessment of current health
  • An assessment of potential parenting skills
  • An assessment of the ability to provide adequate financial support for a child
  • An assessment of the level of knowledge and awareness of adoption issues including, where appropriate, matters relating to interracial, cross-cultural, and special needs adoptions

The adoption study is the basis for the completion of a written report. The report must be in a format specified by the commissioner and must contain recommendations regarding the suitability of the subject of the study to be an adoptive parent.

The commissioner of the Department of Human Services shall review the following information regarding the background study subject:

  • Information from the child abuse and neglect registry for any State in which the subject has resided for the past 5 years
  • Information from State and national crime information databases

Grounds for Withholding Approval

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 259.41

A home study must not be approved if a background study reveals a felony conviction at any time for any of the following:

  • Child abuse or neglect
  • Spousal abuse
  • A crime against children, including child pornography
  • A crime involving violence, including rape, sexual assault, or homicide, but not including other physical assault or battery

A home study must not be approved if a background study reveals a felony conviction within the past 5 years for physical assault or battery or a drug-related offense.

When Studies Must Be Completed

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 259.41

An approved adoption study, completed background study, and written report must be completed before the child is placed in a prospective adoptive home. In an agency placement, the report must be filed with the court at the time the adoption petition is filed. In a direct adoptive placement, the report must be filed with the court in support of a motion for temporary preadoptive custody.

An agency may update an adoption study and report as needed, regardless of when the original study and report--or most recent update--was completed. An adoption study is valid if the report has been completed or updated within the previous 12 months.

Postplacement Study Requirements

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 259.53

Upon the filing of a petition for adoption, the court shall immediately refer the petition to an agency for completion of a postplacement assessment and report.

The agency to which the petition has been referred shall conduct a postplacement assessment and file a report with the court within 90 days of receipt of a copy of the adoption petition. The assessment and report must evaluate the environment and antecedents of the child to be adopted, the home of the petitioners, and whether placement with the petitioners meets the needs of the child. The report must include a recommendation to the court as to whether the petition should or should not be granted.

In making evaluations and recommendations, the postplacement assessment and report must at least address the following:

  • The level of adaptation by the prospective adoptive parents to parenting the child
  • The health and well-being of the child in the prospective adoptive parents' home
  • The level of incorporation by the child into the prospective adoptive parents' home, extended family, and community
  • The level of inclusion of the child's previous history into the prospective adoptive home, such as cultural or ethnic practices or contact with former foster parents or birth relatives

No petition shall be granted until the child has lived for 3 months in the proposed home, subject to a right of visitation by the commissioner or an agency or their authorized representatives.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 259.41; 259.53

Placement for adoption with an individual who is related to the child is subject to a background study. In the case of a stepparent adoption, a background study must be completed on the stepparent and any children, except that a child of the stepparent does not need to have a background study completed if he or she is a sibling through birth or adoption of the person being adopted.

The required investigation and period of residence may be waived by the court when the petition for adoption is submitted by a stepparent.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 260.851; Admin. Code R. 9560.0150

Any out-of-home placement of a child outside the State is subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

The child shall not be sent into the receiving State until the appropriate public authorities in the receiving State notify the sending agency, in writing, that the proposed placement does not appear to be contrary to the interests of the child.

In regulation: No child may be brought into or sent out of Minnesota for adoptive placement into a nonrelative's home unless one of the following conditions is met:

  • The commissioner, as State administrator of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, issues written approval for the importation or exportation pursuant to the requirements of that compact.
  • The commissioner has, in situations that do not involve the compact, issued a written consent to importation or exportation of the child, pursuant to applicable State law.

The commissioner shall not issue consent or approval for the movement of a child across State lines if the proposed placement is planned or made by an unlicensed third party.

The commissioner, upon receipt of all required documentation, shall issue consent or approval for importation when one of the following conditions is satisfied:

  • An authorized child-placing agency in the sending State has adoptive planning rights to the child and requests the importation into Minnesota.
  • A family plans to move to Minnesota and has a child placed with them according to the laws of the other State.

The following documents are required for the commissioner's consent and approval:

  • An authorized child-placing agency's written confirmation that the family is approved for adoptive placement
  • A document that identifies the child and the child's birth date, birthplace, and parentage
  • Legal documents that demonstrate that the child has been properly released for adoption

Foster to Adopt Placements

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 259.41

In the case of a licensed foster parent seeking to adopt a child who is in the foster parent(s)' care, any portions of the foster care licensing process that duplicate requirements of the adoption home study may be submitted in satisfaction of the relevant requirements of this section.

Links to Resources

State regulations