Home Study Requirements for Prospective Parents in Domestic Adoption - North Dakota

Date: August 2020

Who Must Be Studied

Citation: Admin. Code § 75-03-36-28

An adoption assessment must be completed on any prospective adoptive parent.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study

Citation: Admin. Code § 75-03-36-28

A child-placing agency shall conduct the adoption assessment.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents

Citation: Gen. Stat. § 14-15-03

The following individuals may adopt:

  • A husband and wife together, although one or both are minors
  • An unmarried adult
  • The unmarried father or mother of the adoptee

Elements of a Home Study

Citation: Cent. Code §§ 14-15-11; 14-15.1-04; Admin. Code § 75-03-36-31

An investigation must be made by a licensed child-placing agency to inquire into the conditions and antecedents of a child sought to be adopted and of the petitioner for the purpose of ascertaining whether the adoptive home is a suitable home for the child and whether the proposed adoption is in the best interests of the child. The report of the investigation must contain a review of the child€™s history and a preplacement adoption assessment of the petitioner, including a criminal history record investigation.

An 'identified adoptive parent' is the person who has been selected by a birth parent to adopt a specific child. Before an adoption hearing under this chapter, the report of a child-placing agency must be filed with the court. The report must include the following:

  • A recommendation as to whether the home of the adoptive parent is a suitable home for the child
  • A preplacement adoption assessment indicating how the adoptive parent's emotional maturity, finances, health, relationships, criminal history record, and any other relevant factors may affect the parent's ability to accept, care for, and provide the child with an adequate environment in which to mature

In regulation: The adoption assessment shall include the following:

  • Evidence of stability of the adoptive parents' marital or other significant relationships
  • The applicant's emotional stability and maturity, including a history of treatment for substance abuse, mental health concerns, or abuse or neglect issues
  • The applicant's parenting skills
  • Reports of the physical examination of the applicant, current within the past 12 months
  • The applicant's ability to provide financially for the adoptee
  • Results of fingerprint-based criminal history records and child abuse and neglect index checks

Grounds for Withholding Approval

Citation: Admin. Code § 75-03-36-31

When an applicant is denied a positive recommendation for adoption, the child-placing agency shall inform the applicant, in writing, of the reasons the child cannot be placed in the applicant's home.

When Studies Must Be Completed

Citation: Gen. Stat. § 14-15-11; Admin. Code §§ 75-03-36-28; 75-03-36-31

A written report of the investigation must be filed with the court by the investigator before the adoption petition is heard.

In regulation: A child-placing agency may not place a child into an adoptive home without a full adoption assessment being completed on the prospective adoptive parents, including required fingerprint-based criminal history record investigations and child abuse and neglect index investigations.

The child-placing agency shall require an adoptive family assessment be updated at least every 2 years from the date of completion of the original assessment until a child is placed into the home for the purpose of adoption.

Postplacement Study Requirements

Citation: Gen. Stat. § 14-15-11; Admin. Code § 75-03-36-30

The report of the investigation must contain a postplacement evaluation of the placement with a recommendation as to the granting of the petition for adoption and any other information the court requires regarding the petitioner or the child.

In regulation: The child-placing agency shall do the following:

  • Make continuing supportive services available for children and families following adoptive placement
  • Interview all members of the adoptive family in the family home
  • Have face-to-face visits with the child on a monthly basis, primarily in the child's residence
  • Provide assistance to the adoptive family in completing the legal adoption of the child

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions

Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 14-15-11; 14-15.1-04

An investigation and report are not required in cases in which a stepparent is the petitioner. If the petitioner is a relative other than a stepparent of the child, the child has lived with the petitioner for at least 9 months, no allegations of abuse or neglect have been filed against the petitioner or any member of the petitioner's household, and the court is satisfied that the proposed adoptive home is appropriate for the child, the court may waive the investigation and report.

If the identified adoptive parent is a relative of the child, the report of a child-placing agency must include the following:

  • An assessment and recommendation of the criminal history record of the identified adoptive parent and any adult living in the home of the adoptive parent
  • Written credible character statements from three adult witnesses that include the following:
    • The relationship of the witness to the adoptive parent
    • The relationship, love, and other emotional ties existing between the child and the adoptive parent
    • The emotional maturity and moral character of the adoptive parent
    • The sufficiency and stability of the adoptive parent's home environment
    • The ability of the adoptive parent to provide food, clothing, shelter, and medical care for the child
    • The mental and physical health of the adoptive parent, if known

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements

Citation: Cent. Code § 14-13-01

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

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

Links to Resources

State regulations