Home Study Requirements for Prospective Parents in Domestic Adoption - New Mexico

Date:

Who Must Be Studied

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 32A-5-14

The petitioner, the petitioner's children, and any other permanent residents of the petitioner's home shall be included in the study.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 32A-5-13; Admin. Code § 8.26.3.17

The preplacement study shall be conducted by an agency or a person certified by the Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) to conduct the study.

In regulation: For an independent adoption, only persons certified by CYFD shall be permitted to conduct adoptive counseling, studies, and reports. Adoptive counseling narratives, preplacement studies, and postplacement reports will not be accepted if the persons conducting these services are not certified by CYFD.

To qualify as an investigator, the applicant shall meet both of the following:

  • Hold a master's of social work degree from a school of social work accredited by the Council of Social Work Education and be licensed by the New Mexico board of social work examiners; hold a master's degree from an accredited degree-granting institution in sociology, psychology, guidance and counseling, or counseling; or be licensed at the licensed professional clinical counsel level (L.P.C.C.) by the Counseling and Therapy Practice Board
  • Have 2 years paid, full-time experience in family evaluation and child development and behavior

If the adoptee is an Indian child, the investigator may be a person authorized by an Indian Tribe to conduct adoptive studies or counseling by an Indian Tribe.

The individual shall be certified by CYFD and appear on CYFD's current list prior to conducting adoptive services. If the person preparing the adoptive services is out-of-State, such person shall attach a statement setting forth qualifications that are equivalent to those required of an investigator or counselor pursuant to New Mexico law and regulations.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents

Citation: Admin. Code §§ 8.26.4.7; 8.26.4.8

An 'applicant' is any person who applies to be considered as a potential foster care provider, treatment foster care provider, or an adoptive parent. Applicants must meet the following qualifications:

  • Applicants must be age 18 or older.
  • Applicants must be residents of New Mexico.
  • Applicants must be able to communicate with the child in the child's own language or through translation services or other resources.
  • Applicants must be able to communicate with the Protective Services Division (PSD), licensing agents, health-care providers, and other service providers, including through translation services or other resources.
  • At least one applicant in the home must have functional literacy or have access to resources to read (e.g., have the ability to read medication labels in order to properly administer them).
  • Applicants must have income or resources necessary to make timely payments for shelter, food, utility costs, clothing, and other household expenses prior to the addition of an adoptive or foster child.

Tribal agencies also may be involved in conducting home studies for American Indian and Alaska Native children. Federal law provides that any receiving State must treat any Tribal home study report as meeting the requirements imposed by the State for the completion of a home study.

Citizenship or immigration status shall not prevent eligibility for licensure. State regulation provides guidance on licensing non-U.S. citizens without legal permanent residency.

Elements of a Home Study

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 32A-5-14; 32A-5-14.1

The preplacement study shall include, at a minimum, the following:

  • An individual interview with each petitioner
  • A joint interview with both petitioners
  • A home visit that includes an interview with the petitioner's children and any other permanent residents of the home
  • An interview with the adoptee if age appropriate
  • An individual interview with each of the adoptee's parents
  • Full disclosure to the petitioner
  • An exploration of the petitioners' philosophy concerning discussion of adoption issues with the adoptee
  • The initiation of a criminal records check of each petitioner
  • A medical certificate dated no more than 1 year prior to any adoptive placement assessing the petitioner's health as it relates to the petitioner's ability to care for the adoptee
  • A minimum of three letters of reference from individuals named by the petitioner
  • A statement of the capacity and readiness of the petitioner for parenthood and the petitioner's emotional and physical health and ability to shelter, feed, clothe, and educate the adoptee
  • Verification of the petitioner's employment, financial resources, and marital status
  • A report of a medical examination performed on the adoptee within 1 year prior to the proposed adoptive placement
  • A statement of the results of any prior preplacement study

A fingerprint-based nationwide criminal history records check shall be conducted on a person who files a petition to adopt a child.

Grounds for Withholding Approval

Citation: Admin. Code §§ 8.26.4.20: 8.8.3.13

An applicant's request for licensure may be denied based on a documented professional assessment that the applicant cannot adequately provide safety, permanency, and well-being for children.

For the purpose of these regulations, any of the following shall result in a conclusion that the applicant is an unreasonable risk:

  • A conviction for a felony or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude that directly relates to whether the applicant can provide a safe, responsible, and morally positive setting for care recipients
  • A conviction for a felony or a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude that does not directly relate to whether the applicant can provide a safe, responsible, and morally positive setting for care recipients if the department determines that the applicant has not been sufficiently rehabilitated
  • A conviction, regardless of the degree of the crime or the date of the conviction, of trafficking in controlled substances, criminal sexual penetration, related sexual offenses, or child abuse
  • A substantiated referral, regardless of the date, for sexual abuse or for neglect characterized by a failure to protect against sexual abuse
  • The placement of the applicant's child in CYFD's or another State's custody
  • A registration or a requirement to be registered on a State sex offender registry

There shall be a determination of unreasonable risk if a background check shows any of the following:

  • Pending charges for a felony offense; any misdemeanor offense involving domestic violence, child abuse, any other misdemeanor offense of moral turpitude; or an arrest but no disposition for any such crime if a conviction as charged would result in a determination of unreasonable risk
  • A pending child protective services referral or any other CYFD investigation of abuse or neglect
  • An outstanding warrant issued for an applicant

When Studies Must Be Completed

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 32A-5-13

A preplacement study that has been prepared or updated within 1 year immediately prior to the date of placement that approves the petitioner as an appropriate adoptive parent shall be filed with the court prior to issuance of a placement order.

Postplacement Study Requirements

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 32A-5-31; Admin. Code § 8.26.3.32

A postplacement report shall include the following:

  • The interaction between the adoptee and petitioner
  • The adjustment of the adoptee since placement
  • The integration and acceptance of the adoptee in the petitioner's family
  • The petitioner's ability to meet the physical and emotional needs of the adoptee
  • Whether the adoptive home is a suitable home for the adoptee
  • Whether the adoption is in the best interests of the adoptee
  • The type and frequency of postplacement services given to the petitioner

The postplacement report shall contain an evaluation of the proposed adoption with a recommendation as to the granting of the petition for adoption.

The investigation for the postplacement report shall be conducted by the department, an agency, or an investigator. The department, agency, or investigator shall observe the adoptee and interview the petitioner in the petitioner's home as soon as possible after the receipt of notice of the action, but in any event within 30 days. For an adoptee who is younger than age 1 at the time of placement, a written report shall be filed with the court within 60 days from receipt of notice of the proceeding. For an adoptee who is age 1 or older at the time of placement, the written report shall be filed within 120 days.

In regulation: Appropriate postplacement services shall be provided to the adoptee and the prospective adoptive family from the time of the child's placement until the postplacement report is filed. At a minimum, the following services shall be provided:

  • Contact shall be made with the prospective adoptive family personally or by telephone within 48 hours after placement.
  • A home visit shall be made within 3 working days of placement.
  • Additional visits shall be made every other month thereafter until the postplacement report is filed.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 32A-5-32; Admin. Code § 8.26.3.33

Any person may adopt his or her spouse's child in accordance with the provisions of the Adoption Act. When the adoptee has lived with his or her stepparent for at least 1 year following the stepparent's marriage to the custodial parent, the following provisions apply:

  • Placement shall not be required pursuant to § 32A-5-12.
  • A preplacement study or postplacement report shall not be required, unless ordered by the court.
  • When the stepparent and the custodial parent have been married for less than 2 years, counseling shall be required for the stepparent and the custodial parent.
  • The noncustodial parent shall receive counseling unless counseling is waived.
  • The adoptee, if age 10 or older, shall receive counseling.
  • A criminal records check shall be conducted on a stepparent.
  • A report of fees and charges shall not be prepared, unless ordered by the court.
  • The court may waive the 90-day period between the filing of the petition for adoption and issuance of the decree of adoption.
  • When adopted, the adoptee shall take the name designated in the adoption petition, so long as the petitioner€™s spouse and the adoptee, if age 10 or older, consent to the name.

When an adoptee has not lived with the stepparent for more than 1 year following the stepparent's marriage to the custodial parent, the adoption shall proceed as an independent adoption.

In regulation: The petition to adopt shall be filed by the stepparent with whom the adoptee has resided for at least 1 year since the stepparent's marriage to the adoptee's custodial parent. The consent of the noncustodial parent, the custodial parent, and the adoptee who is age 10 or older are required in all stepparent adoptions, except in those cases where the noncustodial parent's parental rights have been terminated involuntarily.

In all stepparent adoptions, the stepparent shall obtain a criminal records check.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 32A-11-1

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.

Foster to Adopt Placements

Citation: Admin. Code § 8.26.2.24

PSD shall attempt to place foster children with concurrent plans of adoption in foster homes that have been identified as concurrent families. PSD completes the preplacement home study for foster parents and treatment foster parents who have been selected as adoptive parents for children in PSD custody.

Links to Resources

Licensing Requirements for Foster and Adoptive Homes