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

Date: August 2020

Who Must Be Studied

Citation: Admin. Code § 67:14:32:05.03

The study shall include the applicants and family and other household members who are at least age 10.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 25-6-9.1

The home study shall be completed by a licensed child-placing agency, the Department of Social Services(DSS), or a certified social worker eligible to engage in private independent practice.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents

Citation: Admin. Code § 67:14:32:08

The general qualifications for an adoptive applicant are as follows:

  • The applicant is at least age 21 and resides in South Dakota. Verification of age is required.
  • No member of the applicant's household age 10 or older, other than a child placed in the home for foster care, has on record a substantiated report of child abuse or neglect.
  • No member of the applicant's household has had a conviction for any of the crimes specified in § 67:14:32:05.05.
  • The applicant is capable of providing good care for children.
  • The applicant has income to meet the needs of the applicant's existing family and to support, care, and educate an adopted child.
  • The applicant's children, if any, are willing to accept an adopted child as a member of the family.
  • The applicant's family composition, needs, and relationships may not adversely affect an adopted child.
  • The applicant has the ability to parent a child, including a basic understanding of the child's physical and mental or emotional development and the ability to fulfill the child's needs. An applicant must have the ability to offer continuing care and guidance to a child throughout the stages of the child's development in a manner consistent with the social and cultural heritage norms of the child. The applicant must be able to continue meeting the needs of the applicant's own children, if any. The applicant must display the capacity to provide good care for children.

DSS may require a psychological evaluation and the submission of medical records if questions arise during the application process regarding the applicant's emotional stability or the emotional stability of another household member.

Elements of a Home Study

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 25-6-9.1; Admin. Code §§ 67:14:32:05.03; :09; :11.01

A home study shall include a fingerprint-based criminal record check completed by the Division of Criminal Investigation and a central registry screening completed by DSS. In addition, no child who is in the custody of DSS may be placed in a home for adoption until a fingerprint-based criminal record check has been completed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for each adopting parent.

In regulation: DSS shall screen an applicant and family and other household members who are at least age 10 to determine if the individual has been involved in any substantiated incidents of child abuse or neglect. The individual may not have a substantiated report of child abuse or neglect.

A physical examination is required for each applicant. A physical examination completed within the 12 months preceding the application is acceptable. The applicant shall also present evidence to DSS that each household member under age 18 meets the immunization requirements of the Department of Health. The minimum immunization requirements for a child age 4 months through 6 years include diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis (DTaP); poliovirus; measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR); and varicella. The minimum immunization requirements for a child age 7 through 18 include tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis (Tdap) and meningococcal ACYW (MCV4).

An adoptive study includes an evaluation of the applicant based on references, personal interviews, screenings against the central registry for abuse or neglect, a criminal record check, information obtained from at least three character references, and home consultations.

Grounds for Withholding Approval

Citation: Admin. Code §§ 67:14:32:05.05; 67:14:32:10

DSS shall deny an application and shall notify the applicant of the denial if the criminal record check detects a conviction for any of the following:

  • A crime that would indicate harmful behavior toward children
  • A crime of violence
  • A sex crime
  • Within the preceding 5 years, a conviction for any other felony

DSS may deny an adoption application based on its evaluation, substantiated by facts, showing that the applicant does not meet the requirements of this chapter. Within 120 days after application, DSS shall notify the applicant in writing of the application status. If the application is denied, DSS shall inform the applicant of the reasons for the denial.

When Studies Must Be Completed

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 25-6-9.1; Admin. Code § 67:14:32:11.01

No person may place a child in a home for adoption until a home study has been completed.

In regulation: An adoptive study may not be used if more than 3 years have elapsed between the date the study was completed and the date of placement.

Postplacement Study Requirements

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 25-6-11; Admin. Code §§ 67:14:11:01; :02; :03

For a child in the custody of DSS, the petitioner shall notify DSS when the adoption petition has been filed with the court. DSS shall make a recommendation as to the desirability of the adoption.

In regulation: Upon receipt of a copy of the adoption petition, DSS shall conduct an investigation as to the desirability for the adoption. The investigation shall include the following:

  • Personal interviews with the petitioners, the child who is older than age 6, the natural parents or the legal guardian, if parental rights have been terminated
  • Inspection of information from DSS case records
  • Inspection of information obtained from medical, financial, or other references
  • Inspection of information provided by other social agencies

Following the investigation, DSS shall submit its recommendations to the judge of the court in which the adoption petition was filed. The recommendation shall be in writing and shall be signed by the secretary of DSS or a designee. DSS' recommendations as to the desirability of adoption shall be based on investigations of the adoptive parents, the natural parents, and the adoptee.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 25-6-10

In the case of a stepparent adopting a stepchild, an investigation is not required unless ordered by the court.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 26-13-1; Admin. Code § 67:14:24:09.01

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.

In regulation: A study and evaluation of an out-of-State placement facility shall be made by an agency licensed or authorized for child placement. The study and evaluation shall be based on the other State's child placement standards and shall be submitted by the out-of-State agency to DSS prior to placement of a child.

Foster to Adopt Placements

Citation: Admin. Code § 67:42:05:01

A 'fost/adopt' family is an approved adoptive home that has agreed to accept the placement of a child who is not yet legally free for adoption. The family is committed, as is the placing agency, to make the placement permanent when legal termination of parental rights is completed.

Links to Resources

State regulations, Title 67, article 42, chapter 9