Home Study Requirements for Prospective Parents in Domestic Adoption - Rhode Island

Date: August 2020

Who Must Be Studied

Citation: Gen. Laws § 15-7-11

The prospective adoptive parents, all prospective siblings, and any other household members shall be included in the home study.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study

Citation: Gen. Laws § 15-7-11

The Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) shall have the duty to verify the allegations of an adoption petition and to make an appropriate investigation to determine whether the proposed adoptive home is a suitable home for the child. When a child has been placed for adoption by a duly licensed child-placing agency, the court may accept the home study report of the child-placing agency in lieu of the investigation and recommendation of DCYF.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents

Citation: Gen. Laws § 15-7-4; Code of Rules § 214-40-00-5

Any person residing in Rhode Island may petition the family court to adopt as his or her child any person younger than him or herself and under age 18.

In regulation: The child-placing agency shall establish physical requirements for adoptive homes, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • The adoptive home shall be clean, safe, free of obvious hazards, and of sufficient size to accommodate comfortably all members of the household.
  • The adoptive home shall have adequate lighting and ventilation, hot and cold water supply, plumbing, electricity, and heat.
  • Reports by the Health Department must be in the adoptive home file as to the following:
    • A finding of safety when well water is used by the adoptive family
    • A finding of approval when septic tanks and leach-fields are used by the adoptive family

Elements of a Home Study

Citation: Gen. Laws § 15-7-11

All home studies shall be based on a minimum of two home visits by the agency conducting the home study. All prospective siblings and any other household members shall be interviewed during a home visit. The following information shall be included in all home studies:

  • Identifying information on all household members, including minor children and the current needs of each child
  • Information regarding the prospective adoptive parent(s)' motivation and reasons for the adoption
  • Current background information on the prospective adoptive parents, including a written self-assessment
  • Child care experience and parenting philosophy
  • Information regarding past and present marriage and/or partnership relationships
  • Current medical and psychological conditions, including addiction to drugs or alcohol, that may be seriously detrimental to the health and welfare of children
  • A description of the home and local community, including any health and safety concerns regarding the home
  • Information regarding finances and employment
  • Reference letters from at least three individuals, at least two of whom are nonrelatives
  • Results of background checks with DCYF and clearance checks regarding State and Federal criminal records, without disclosing the nature of the disqualifying information, conducted on the prospective adoptive parents and any household member age 18 and older
  • Information related to the prospective adoptive parent's willingness and ability to accept and cooperate with adoption support services, including their level of understanding regarding openness with the birth family
  • Information related to the match between prospective adoptive parents and the child, including attitudes and capabilities of prospective adoptive parents and the child's characteristics and background

Grounds for Withholding Approval

Citation: Gen. Laws § 15-7-11; Code of Rules § 214-40-00-5

The director of DCYF will determine by rules and regulations those items of information appearing on a criminal-records check that constitute disqualifying information because that information would indicate the prospective adoptive parent could endanger the health or welfare of a child. Upon the discovery of any disqualifying information with respect to a proposed prospective adoptive parent, the director shall inform the agency that disqualifying information has been discovered, without disclosing the nature of the disqualifying information.

In regulation: The agency shall deny approval of an adoption application if any of the following apply to the applicant:

  • Has been convicted of, or is serving an active probationary sentence for, a disqualifying criminal offense
  • Falsifies or omits facts on an application form or during an adoptive home study
  • Impedes an adoptive study
  • Has a documented history of substantiated child abuse or neglect
  • Has a past or current history of agency or departmental intervention deemed detrimental to the care of a child
  • Has a documented history of chemical- or alcohol-related problems
  • Would not provide satisfactory parenting for a child

When Studies Must Be Completed

Citation: Gen. Laws § 15-7-11

The report of the investigation shall be submitted within 60 days.

Postplacement Study Requirements

Citation: Code of Rules § 214-40-00-5

The social service worker shall visit the adoptive family at least twice after the placement of a child and prior to the final decree. A summary of the observations made during the visits shall be recorded and used in making final recommendations as to the finalization of the adoption.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions

Citation: Gen. Laws § 15-7-11

Provisions of this section requiring a home study may, in the discretion of the court, be waived in the case of a petition for the adoption of a child where the child is the natural child of one of the parties petitioning for the adoption and resides with the petitioning parties.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements

Citation: Gen. Laws § 40-15-1

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: Gen. Laws § 42-72-5.1

The foster parents of a child who have had the physical custody of the child for a period of 2 years or more may petition the family court for the adoption of the child. The court shall give notice of the petition to the natural parents and, after a hearing thereon, the court may grant the petition, if it finds that:

  • DCYF has made every effort to involve the natural parents in planning for the child.
  • The natural parents did not exercise reasonable visitation rights with the child.
  • Termination of the rights of the natural parents and adoption by the foster parents is in the best interests of the child.

Links to Resources

Resources from the Department of Children, Youth and Families: