State Adoption: Fingerprinting and Criminal Background Checks.

fingerprint In some states you may be able to start the criminal history and background checks as soon as your adoption application has been submitted and before you have an adoption socialworker assigned. If your state allows these steps to be taken early it is a good idea to make the appointment and get them started as they can take some time to be completed.

Most states require a complete fingerprinting and criminal history check in order to adopt children from the foster care system. In many cases your state will require this to be completed for any adult living in your home. In some states finger printing and background checks will be required for anyone you plan to leave your child in care of until the adoption is final. If you are planning to have grandma baby sit then you might ask your state if she is required to have fingerprinting and criminal history checks. Otherwise, your only resources for a Saturday night date may be professional certified child care providers.

handcuffs It is most important to disclose anything and everything that might pop up on your background check. Including that time when you were 15 years old and got busted for sticky fingers at the local dime store. You will also want to include any information someone may have reported to the children’s services about you as a child or as an adult. False or true these reports are usually kept for many years. Disclosing the facts first will avoid making you appear as someone who is hiding something.

When the state runs the background and criminal history checks they will be looking for any crimes of violence or accusations of harm done to other people. In many cases, simple crimes done years ago will be overlooked unless you fail to inform or they were crimes of a nature that indicates you are not a safe person. Sometimes very old DUI’s or substance abuse charges will be acceptable and sometimes they will not be. Often, it is up to the adoption worker who interviews you to decide if they feel that history is relevant or not.

I had forgotten when we were doing our background check that ten years earlier I had myself reported to children’s services a concern for my own children. During my divorce with my first husband he endangered our children and took a vacation with someone who was eventually arrested for child abuse. When I learned of this fact I reported it to our local child abuse hot-line and obtained some services to help my children and to be sure they had not been abused. My forgetting may have been a huge problem had I not been the reporter of referral for services myself.

If anyone for any reason valid or not has contacted social services about you or any child you are in care of you need to include this information on your background or adoption application. It will come up at some point along the home study process. You will also want to find any supporting documents about the situation. It is very common especially with people who have had messy divorces and child custody battles to have social service referrals from bitter ex’s. Do not forget about these past messes and be sure to offer this information yourself if at all possible.

Some states will have you complete the fingerprinting, and criminal history background checks as one of the last steps in your home study process. It is best to find out the earliest date you can start this process and get it out of the way as soon as possible. More home studies are delayed waiting on these items then nearly any other problem that might arise and in some cases these checks take weeks to be completed.

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For more information about parenting special needs children you might want to visit the Families.com Special Needs Blog and the Mental Health Blog. Or visit my personal website.

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