Home Study Requirements for Prospective Parents in Domestic Adoption - Missouri

Date: August 2020

Who Must Be Studied

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 453.070; Code of Regs. Tit. 13, § 35-73.080

An assessment must be made of the adoptive parents.

In regulation: The adoption home study must include all members of the applicants' household.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 453.070

The investigation, as directed by the court having jurisdiction, may be made by any of the following:

  • The Children's Division of the Department of Social Services
  • A juvenile court officer
  • A licensed child-placing agency
  • A social worker
  • A professional counselor
  • A licensed psychologist who is associated with a licensed child-placing agency
  • Another suitable person appointed by the court

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 453.070

The assessment and investigation will determine whether the child is suitable for adoption by the petitioner and whether the petitioner is suitable as a parent for the child.

Elements of a Home Study

Citation: Code of Regs. Tit. 13, § 35-73.080

The family assessment process shall include the following:

  • Confidential interviews with the applicants and all members of the applicants' household, as age appropriate
  • A visit to the residence of the applicants that includes a complete inspection of the home
  • A minimum of at least two separate visits on nonconsecutive days

A social history on each applicant shall include the following:

  • A description of the applicant's family of origin, including the type of family structure, values, child rearing, relationships past and present, and discipline methods
  • Education and occupational history, including current employment
  • Marital history and current relationships
  • Interests and hobbies
  • Physical and mental health history, including psychiatric treatment, if any, and the extent of alcohol and drug use
  • The applicant's emotional stability and maturity
  • Religious beliefs and practices
  • Parenting background, including the motivation to adopt
  • Location and description of physical residence, including the type of community and school district available
  • Financial status and management

Supplemental documentation shall include the following:

  • At least four reference letters, including one employment-related reference per applicant from one who has worked with the person within the past 5 years, one relative, and one nonrelated personal reference
  • A child abuse and neglect background screening check that is no more than 6 months old
  • Criminal arrest records from a State law enforcement agency that are no more than 6 months old
  • Fingerprint-based criminal conviction records from a State law enforcement agency
  • Written medical reports on all adult members of the household that are no more than 12 months old
  • Written documentation of income and financial resources

Grounds for Withholding Approval

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

When Studies Must Be Completed

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 453.070; Code of Regs. Tit. 13, § 35-73.080

The results of the investigation shall be incorporated in a written report that shall be submitted to the court within 90 days of the request for the investigation. The assessment of the petitioner or petitioners shall be submitted to the petitioner and to the court prior to the scheduled hearing of the adoptive petition.

In regulation: Adoptive family assessments shall be updated annually. An update also shall be completed if there is a significant change in the family situation. Updates shall include the following:

  • One or more interviews with all members of the family
  • Medical reports on all household members biennially, unless otherwise indicated
  • Child abuse and neglect reports on all adults completed within the past 30 days
  • Arrest record check completed within the past 30 days
  • Evaluation of any previous placements
  • A summary of additional children to be adopted

Postplacement Study Requirements

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 453.077; Code of Regs. Tit. 13, § 35-73.080

When a child has been placed with the petitioner for the required 6-month placement period, the investigator shall provide the court with a postplacement assessment. The postplacement assessment shall include an update of the preplacement assessment that was submitted to the court and a report on the emotional, physical, and psychological status of the child.

In regulation: A child-placing agency shall maintain contact with the family during the supervision period. For children younger than age 3, the agency shall do the following:

  • Conduct quarterly home visits until the adoption is final
  • Conduct monthly telephone contacts between home visits
  • Receive regular written reports from the child's pediatrician

For children age 3 or older or children with special needs, the agency shall do the following:

  • Conduct one home visit within the first 10 days of placement and then, at a minimum, quarterly until the adoption is finalized
  • Conduct monthly telephone contacts between home visits
  • Receive regular written reports from the child's pediatrician
  • If the child is in school, receive one report from school personnel every school quarter regarding the child's progress
  • Interview the child privately to discuss the child's feelings about the adoption during each supervisory visit

The agency shall document in the child's record that all members of the adoptive family's household were interviewed during supervision and that the following issues were discussed:

  • How the addition of this child into the family has changed family relationships
  • What role each family member has assumed in child care
  • How parents have coped with adjustments; additional responsibilities; discipline; and physical, psychological, emotional, and financial stresses
  • How the family is imparting knowledge of the child's history, as age appropriate
  • The child's adjustment, including regarding health, school, and family

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 453.070

In cases where the adoption involves a child younger than age 18 who is the natural child of one of the petitioners, the court may waive the investigation and report, except the criminal background check.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 210.620; 210.622

Prior to sending a child to a receiving State, the public child-placing agency shall submit a written request for assessment to the receiving State. The assessment shall evaluate the prospective placement to determine whether the placement meets the individualized needs of the child, including, but not limited to, the child's safety and stability; health and well-being; and mental, emotional, and physical development.

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 and shall be entitled to receive from the public or private child-placing agency in the sending State supporting or additional information necessary to complete the assessment.

The public child-placing agency in the receiving State shall complete or arrange for the completion of the assessment within the timeframes established by the rules of the Interstate Commission.

Notwithstanding the provisions above, the division may enter into an agreement with a similar agency in any State adjoining Missouri that provides for the emergency placement of abused or neglected children across State lines without the prior approval required by the interstate compact. A request for approval shall be initiated if the placement extends beyond 30 days.

Foster to Adopt Placements

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 210.566; 453.070

If a child becomes free for adoption while in foster care, the child's foster family shall be given preferential consideration as adoptive parents.

Any adult person or persons age 18 or older who, as foster parent or parents, have cared for a foster child continuously for a period of 9 months or more and for whom bonding has occurred as evidenced by the positive emotional and physical interaction between the foster parent and child may apply for the placement of the child with them for the purpose of adoption if the child is eligible for adoption. The agency and court shall give preference and first consideration for adoptive placements to foster parents. However, the final determination of the propriety of the adoption of such foster child shall be within the sole discretion of the court.

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