Can I Adopt If I Have Been Arrested?


An arrest record or prior criminal charge may not completely disqualify an applicant to become an adoptive parent. Each situation must be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and it is very important that all criminal issues be fully disclosed to the home study coordinator and documented in a home study as well as other adoption related documents. The home study has a big impact on whether an adoptive parent is approved. Criminal history information and child abuse reports are incorporated into the adoption home study that is used to help determine whether an adoptive parent’s home is safe and appropriate for an adoptive child. There shouldn’t be any concern over disclosing criminal history information because doing so gives the home study coordinator the opportunity to help work through any issues and to be able to explain the history clearly. This allows local, federal and international officials to get the whole story since they will not be able to have a personal meeting before granting or denying an adoption request. The home study coordinator will help prove to officials that any concerns about past indiscretions have been resolved and are no longer a concern.

Several variables have to be considered such as: the specific nature of the charge, when the charge occurred and the country the applicant plans to adopt from. All States have specific statutes or regulations requiring background investigations of prospective adoptive parents. The background investigation includes a check of Federal and State Police criminal history. Most states also require checks of child abuse and neglect registries and sex offender registries. Fingerprinting is also required as part of the criminal record check in 31 states, including Indiana.

Federal approval for adoption will not be granted if the applicant has ever been convicted of a felony for child abuse or neglect or spousal abuse, any crime against children, including child pornography or kidnapping; or a crime involving violence, including rape, sexual assault, or homicide. The applicant also cannot have been convicted of a felony for physical assault, battery or a drug-related offence in the past 5 years. Additional disqualifying crimes differ from state to state. In some states, crimes such as arson, kidnapping, illegal use of weapons or explosives, fraud, forgery or property crimes may also lead to disqualification. To research your state’s statues visit click here.

It may be possible to have an arrest record expunged. While expungement may not completely hide a past conviction it does make an unfortunate situation look better. An arrest may be expunged in the following circumstances: if an arrest was made, but no criminal charges were ever filed or if an arrest was made and criminal charges were filed, but all criminal charges were dropped due to, mistaken identity, no offense was actually committed or no probable cause was found. Generally, to get an arrest expunged there must not be any record of other arrests or criminal charges. A petition must be completed and the court will have to determine that one of these circumstances applies and it is up to the court whether or not to expunge the record. Even if a record is expunged it should still be disclosed in the adoption process.

There are many different scenarios to consider and questions are best addressed by an adoption agency that has up to date information on the ever changing rules and regulations in a specific state or country.

MLJ Adoptions is a Non-Profit, Hague-Accredited adoption service provider located in Indianapolis, Indiana, working in Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Pacific Isles. We are passionate about serving children in need.