Home Study Requirements for Prospective Parents in Domestic Adoption - Oklahoma

Date:

Who Must Be Studied

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 10, § 7505-5.3

The study must include the prospective adoptive parents and all other household members who are age 18 and older.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 10, § 7505-5.4

Home studies must be conducted only by the following persons or agencies:

  • The agency having custody or legal guardianship of the child
  • The Department of Human Services(DHS)
  • A licensed child-placing agency
  • A person designated by the court who meets one of the following qualifications:
    • A master's degree in social work and 1 year of experience in children's services
    • A member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers and 1 year of experience in children's services
    • A master's degree in a behavioral or social science and 2 years' experience in children's services
    • A doctorate in a behavioral or social science and 1 year of experience in children's services
    • A member of the clergy with 2 years of experience in family counseling
  • A person who is supervised by a person described above who meets one of the following qualifications:
    • A bachelor's degree in social work
    • A bachelor's degree in behavioral or social science and 1 year of experience in children's or family services

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 10, § 7503-1.1; Admin. Code § 340:75-15-41.1

The following persons are eligible to adopt a child:

  • A husband and wife jointly if both spouses are at least age 21
  • Either the husband or wife if the other spouse is a parent or a relative of the child
  • An unmarried person who is at least age 21
  • A married person who is at least age 21 who is legally separated

In regulation: If a prospective placement provider meets the minimum age required by statute, DHS may not use the age of an otherwise eligible individual as a reason for denial of placement.

Elements of a Home Study

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 10, § 7505-5.3

A home study must include at a minimum the following:

  • An appropriate inquiry to determine whether the proposed home is a suitable one for the child
  • At least one individual interview with each parent, each school-age child, and any other household member; one joint interview; a home visit; and three written references
  • Verification that the home is a healthy, safe environment in which to raise a child
  • Verification of marital status, employment, income, access to medical care, and physical health and history
  • When the child is in the legal custody of DHS, a Department of Public Safety motor vehicle report for the adoptive parents and all other adult household members
  • A review of a criminal background check and a child abuse and neglect information system check that includes the following:
    • A national fingerprint-based criminal background check, a search of the Department of Corrections' sex offenders registry, and a search of the child abuse and neglect information system
    • For each adoptive parent or other household member age 18 and older who has not maintained continuous residency in the State for 5 years prior to the home study or home study update, a child abuse registry check from every other State in which the person has resided during the 5-year period

Grounds for Withholding Approval

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 10, § 7505-5.1; Admin. Code § 340:75-15-88

A prospective adoptive parent shall not be approved for placement of a child if the petitioners or any other person residing in the home of the petitioners has been convicted of any of the following felony offenses:

  • Within the 5-year period preceding the date of the petition, physical assault, domestic abuse, battery, or a drug-related offense
  • Child abuse or neglect
  • A crime against a child, including child pornography
  • A crime involving violence, including, but not limited to, rape, sexual assault, or homicide

Under no circumstances shall a child be placed with an individual subject to the Oklahoma Sex Offenders Registration Act or an individual who is married to or living with an individual subject to the Oklahoma Sex Offenders Registration Act.

In regulation: Other reasons for denial may include any of the following:

  • The applicant lacks a stable, adequate income.
  • The home is inadequate to accommodate the addition of children or presents health or safety concerns.
  • The applicant or any person residing in the home has a history of arrests, convictions, or alleged or confirmed child abuse or neglect.
  • The health or any other condition of the applicant would impede his or her ability to parent and provide age-appropriate activities and care for a child on a permanent basis into adult years.
  • Relationships in the household are unstable and unsatisfactory.
  • The behavioral health of the applicant or other household member would impede the applicant's ability to provide care for a child.
  • References are guarded or have reservations in recommending the applicant.
  • The applicant does not complete the required preservice training within 1 year of application.
  • The applicant has applied to adopt a child of a certain age, race, or other characteristic that DHS reasonably believes may not be available for adoption in the foreseeable future.

When Studies Must Be Completed

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 10, § 7505-5.1

A person must have a favorable written preplacement home study before a child may be placed in his or her custody for purposes of adoption. A preplacement home study is favorable if it contains a finding that the person is suited to be an adoptive parent, either in general or for a particular child, and it is completed or brought current within 12 months of the placement of a child.

Postplacement Study Requirements

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 10, § 7505-5.3

Prior to issuance of a final decree, the investigator shall observe the minor in the proposed adoptive home and report in writing to the court on any circumstances or conditions that may have a bearing on the granting of a final adoption decree.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 10, §§ 7505-5.1; 7505-5.2

A preplacement home study is not required if a parent or guardian places a minor directly with a relative of the child for purposes of adoption or if the minor has been residing with a birth parent's spouse for at least 1 year when the petition for adoption is filed, but a home study of the relative or stepparent is required during the pendency of a proceeding for adoption.

If a preplacement home study has not been done, the court shall order that a home study be made upon the filing of a petition for adoption. If the adoptee is the biological or adopted child of either of the petitioners or of the spouse of the petitioner, then the court may waive the requirement for a home study report if the court makes the following findings:

  • Waiver of the home study requirement is in the best interests of the child.
  • The parent of the child and the stepparent of the child who are petitioning for adoption have been married for at least 1 year with the adoptee living in their home.
  • The stepparent has no record of conviction of a felony or conviction or adjudication in juvenile court for child abuse or neglect or domestic violence, and there is no record of a protective order or orders issued against the stepparent

In all other adoptions, including foster, relative, and stepparent adoptions, a home study and report shall be made.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 10, § 571

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 § 340:75-15-41.1

During any permanency hearing, if the court determines the child is to be placed for adoption and the child has resided with the foster parent for at least 1 year, the court will consider the foster parent eligible to adopt and give great weight to the foster parent in the adoption consideration unless there is an existing, loving, emotional bond with a relative of the child, by blood or marriage, who is willing, able, and eligible to adopt the child. The court must take into account the statutory factors to make the determination, including, but not limited to, the age and preference of the child and the long-term best interests of the child.

Links to Resources

State regulations, see title 340, chapter 75, subchapter 15