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

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Who Must Be Studied

Citation: Code of Rules & Regs. Tit. 18, § 421.27

The applicant and any person older than age 18 residing in the applicant's household must be included in the study.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study

Citation: Dom. Rel. Law § 115-d

A preplacement investigation conducted pursuant to the provisions of this section shall be made by a disinterested person who in the opinion of the court is qualified by training and experience to examine the allegations set forth in the application and any other factors that may be relevant to the suitability of the applicant or applicants as a qualified adoptive parent or parents. For the purposes of this section, a disinterested person shall include a licensed master social worker, licensed clinical social worker, the probation service of the family court, or an authorized agency specifically designated by the court to conduct preplacement investigations.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents

Citation: Code of Rules & Regs. Tit. 18, § 421.16

Applicants shall be at least age 18. The agency shall not establish any other minimum or maximum age for acceptance. An applicant shall healthy enough to have the energy and other abilities needed to fulfill the parental responsibilities.

Agencies must not consider marital status in their acceptance of applicants. Married applicants must have been married for at least 1 year. An adoptive applicant may not be rejected for adoption because of his or her fertility. The significance of fertility and/or infertility as it relates to the desire to adopt shall always be explored in the adoption process, but applicants shall not be required to provide proof of infertility.

The agency may study family size as it relates to the ability of a family to care for another child and the quality of life that will be offered to an adoptive child.

Employment, education, or volunteer activities of the applicants may not be a basis for rejection. Race, ethnic group, and religion shall not be a basis for rejecting an adoption applicant.

No applicant shall be rejected based on low income or because of receipt of income maintenance payments. The adoption study process shall evaluate an applicant's ability to budget his or her resources in such a way that a child can be reasonably assured of minimum standards of nutrition, health, shelter, clothing, and other essentials.

Changes in employment and residences may be examined to determine the significance of such changes for the functioning and well-being of the family and any child to be placed in the home.

Elements of a Home Study

Citation: Code of Rules & Regs. Tit. 18, §§ 421.16; 421.27

An adoption study shall explore the following attributes of the applicants:

  • Capacity to give and receive affection
  • Ability to provide for a child's physical and emotional needs
  • Ability to accept the intrinsic worth of a child, to respect and share his or her past, and to have realistic expectations and goals
  • Flexibility and ability to change
  • Ability to cope with problems, stress, and frustration
  • Feelings about parenting an adopted child and the ability to make a commitment to a child placed in the home
  • Ability to use community resources to strengthen and enrich family functioning

A report of a physical examination conducted not more than 1 year preceding the date of the adoption application regarding the family's general health; the absence of communicable disease, infection, or illness; or any physical condition that might affect the proper care of an adopted child is required.

An adoption study shall inquire into an applicant's experience with children and offer him or her, if feasible, the opportunity to increase his or her experience, knowledge, and skills in this area.

An adoption study shall include a check with the State child maltreatment central registry as to whether the subject has an indicated maltreatment report on file. If the applicant or other household member age 18 or older has resided out-of-State at any time during the previous 5 years, a check of out-of-State registries must be made. The study also must include a check of whether the applicant or an adult household member is listed on the vulnerable persons' central register.

An authorized agency must perform fingerprint-based State and Federal criminal history record checks regarding any prospective adoptive parent and each person older than age 18 who is currently residing in the home of the prospective adoptive parent before the adoptive parent is finally approved for the placement of a child.

Grounds for Withholding Approval

Citation: Code of Rules & Regs. Tit. 18, §§ 421.16; 421.27

If the applicant is the subject of an indicated report of child abuse or maltreatment, the agency must determine on the basis of the information it has available and in accordance with guidelines developed by the Office of Children and Family Services whether to approve the application. If the applicant or other household member older than age 18 is listed on the vulnerable persons' central register, the agency must determine whether to approve the application.

Current abuse of alcohol or other drugs requires the rejection of an application. The record must clearly show how the finding of such abuse was made.

The authorized agency must deny an adoption application when a criminal history record of the prospective or approved adoptive parent reveals any of the following:

  • A felony conviction at any time involving any of the following:
    • Child abuse or neglect
    • Spousal abuse
    • A crime against a child, including child pornography
    • A crime involving violence, including rape, sexual assault, or homicide, other than a crime involving physical assault or battery
  • A felony conviction within 5 years for physical assault, battery, or a drug-related offense

The authorized agency may deny an application for approval of a prospective adoptive parent when any of the following applies:

  • A criminal history record of the prospective or approved adoptive parent reveals a charge or a conviction of a crime other than one set forth above
  • A criminal history record of any other person older than age 18 who resides in the home of the prospective or approved adoptive parent reveals a charge or a conviction of any crime

When Studies Must Be Completed

Citation: Dom. Rel. Law § 115

A person seeking to commence a private-placement adoption shall be certified as a qualified adoptive parent by a court of competent jurisdiction prior to the placement of a child in his or her home.

Postplacement Study Requirements

Citation: Dom. Rel. Law § 116

When the adoptive child is younger than age 18, no order of adoption shall be made until 3 months after the petition to adopt has been filed.

A postplacement investigation shall be made by a disinterested person who has no interest in the outcome of petitioner's application. The disinterested person shall make a written report of his or her investigation that shall include, but not be limited to, the following information:

  • The marital and family status and history of the adoptive parents and adoptive child
  • The physical and mental health of the adoptive parents and adoptive child
  • The property owned by and the income of the adoptive parents
  • The compensation paid or agreed upon with respect to the placement of the child for adoption
  • Whether either adoptive parent has ever been a respondent in any proceeding concerning allegedly abused, neglected, abandoned, or delinquent children
  • Any other facts relating to the familial, social, religious, emotional, and financial circumstances of the adoptive parents that may be relevant to a determination of adoption

The written report of investigation shall be submitted to the court within 30 days unless the court grants an extension for good cause shown. The report shall be filed, in any event, before the final order of adoption is granted.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions

Citation: Dom. Rel. Law §§ 115-d; 116

A preplacement investigation is not required when the petition to adopt is filed by a stepparent for the adoption of a stepchild when the stepchild has resided with the birth parent and the stepparent for a continuous period of at least 1 year.

When the spouse of the adoptive parent is the birth parent of the child and the child has resided with the birth parent and adoptive parent for more than 3 months before the adoption petition was filed, a waiting period shall not be required.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements

Citation: Code of Rules & Regs. Tit. 18, § 421.14

When the Office of Children and Family Services, through the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, receives a request to conduct a home study for the approval of persons in New York as adoptive parents for a child from another State, the office will forward the request to the social services district in which the prospective adoptive parent resides for the purpose of conducting a home study and approving the prospective adoptive parent in accordance with these regulations. The social services district may conduct the study directly or may use a voluntary authorized agency to conduct the home study. The study must be completed and simultaneously returned within 60 days to the Office of Children and Family Services and the State or local agency that submitted the request.

The prospective adoptive parent need not complete the education or training requirements of this part for the completion of the home study.

The term 'home study' means an assessment of the safety and suitability of placing the child in the home of the prospective adoptive parent based on an evaluation of a home environment.

When a social services district proposes to place a foster child or children with prospective adoptive parent(s) in another State, the social services district must treat a home study received from the other State, an Indian Tribe, or a private agency under contract with the other State as meeting the requirements imposed by New York for the completion of a home study before placing the child or children in the home, unless within 14 days of the receipt of the home study, the social services district determines, based on the content of the home study, that making a decision in reliance on the home study would be contrary to the welfare of the child or children.

Foster to Adopt Placements

Citation: Code of Rules & Regs. Tit. 18, § 421.19

Authorized agencies shall offer an adoption application to foster parents or refer them to an authorized agency that operates an adoption program when a child in their care for 12 continuous months has been freed for adoption. An agency shall accept an adoption application from a foster parent seeking to adopt a child who has been in his home for less than 12 continuous months. The agency must assess and prepare foster parent adoptive applicants as rapidly as possible, as follows:

  • Review the information about the family that was obtained in the original foster home study and annual recertification
  • Identify information needed in an adoption study that was lacking or insufficiently current
  • Identify those areas of family functioning that may need further exploration or strengthening
  • Conduct an adoption study process with the following attributes:
    • Does not repeat information-gathering activities
    • Obtains additional or updated information as rapidly as possible, including obtaining criminal history record checks
    • Focuses on areas identified as needing further exploration or strengthening
    • Clarifies for the applicant the difference between foster care and adoption and the issues involved in obtaining an adoption subsidy
    • Includes checking whether an applicant or other person older than age 18 who resides in the home is the subject of an indicated report of child abuse or maltreatment on file with the State child maltreatment central registry, is listed on the child abuse registry of another State, or is listed on the register of substantiated cases of abuse or neglect maintained by the Justice Center for the Protection of People With Special Needs

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