If you live in Connecticut and are considering adoption as a means to grow your family, you may be wondering if there is anything unique or anything specific you should know about adoption in CT before you take the plunge. Adoption laws and requirements vary from state to state. Let’s take a look at what adoption in CT entails.
There are certain laws establishing requirements for adoption in CT, which include the following:
- Criminal records check
- Home safety checks
- Medical examination: the health of the adoptive parents should “not present a hazard” to the children
- Completion of a home study
- Adoptive families should have income “sufficient to meet the needs of their family,” including any child or children they intend to adopt
Connecticut’s law does not specify whether a potential adoptive parent must rent or own their own home and does not discriminate regarding marital status. This means single prospective adoptive parents or adoptive parents who are not legally married are able to pursue adoption in CT. Additionally there are no restrictions on members of the LGBTQ community adopting.
These are the requirements you must satisfy in order to pursue adoption in CT. These requirements are very similar to requirements in most states. The home study is an area where many new prospective adoptive parents find themselves facing some fear. They worry that having a home that looks like anything other than a picture from a catalog is going to disqualify them from adopting, but this isn’t the case in Connecticut or anywhere else. The home study simply exists to make sure your home is safe, and also to help the social worker get to know you and your family better so they can help you in deciding what type of adoption to pursue, what kinds of children would do well in your home, what special needs you would be willing or able to accommodate, and how many children you could consider adopting at once. If you are adopting through the foster care system, for example, there is a good chance—if you are open to it—that you could end up adopting a sibling group. The social worker will ask you and your family members questions to help get to know you better and understand your family dynamic. Your home study social worker should be looked at as your ally in this process, not the enemy. They want to see you adopt successfully and are not going to disqualify you on a whim. In fact, they can be a great source of support and knowledge throughout your adoption process.
In Connecticut, the specific information your social worker will collect during the home study will most likely include these things:
- Your motivation to adopt
- Physical description and social background of each family member (including children)
- Evaluation of parenting practices or, if you are not currently a parent, what types of practices you think you will adhere to such as how you would discipline a child
- Summary of each family member’s health history and current condition
- Informal assessment of each family member’s emotional and mental health
- Evaluation of the understanding of and adjustment to adoptive parenting
- Evaluation of the prospective adoptive parents’ finances and occupations
- Description of the home and community
- Statements regarding the results of criminal records and child abuse and neglect registry checks
- At least three character references
In addition to the interview portion of the home study, which takes place in your home, you will have to pass a background check. The background check is required for anyone in your home over the age of 18, including children, relatives, or renters. For the background check, you will have to have a series of fingerprints taken. These fingerprints are then checked against national, state, and local databases to ensure you have not committed any crimes that might make you an unsafe choice as an adoptive parent. The types of crimes that tend to disqualify individuals are felonies, particularly violent crimes, or crimes involving children. Many people have made mistakes in their past, particularly in their youth. If you know you have any sort of criminal record, even just a misdemeanor, your best bet is to disclose this to your home study provider at the beginning of the home study process and demonstrate to your social worker how you learned from this mistake and how you have worked to overcome that situation. In general, honesty is the best policy when it comes to any of the questions a social worker will ask you during a home study.
In addition to checking for a criminal background, the social worker will be asking questions to determine if you are emotionally ready to adopt, especially if you are coming to adoption after dealing with infertility. Some questions to ask yourself before adopting include the following:
- Have you truly and fully moved past the dream of having a baby biologically and have you refocused on your new dream of having a baby through adoption?
- What steps have you taken to address any infertility grief you may have?
- Have you educated yourself about the emotional steps of the process for adoptive parents, birth parents, and adoptees?
- Are you and your spouse on the same page about your feelings towards adoption and parenthood?
- Have you educated yourself on how to maintain a positive relationship with your child’s birth family?
- Are you committed to the adoption process even through challenges and setbacks?
- Are your expectations of how long the process will take and how difficult it might be realistic?
So, once you have satisfied the requirements for adoption in CT, completed the adoption process, and been matched with a child, you then have to think about what adoption laws in Connecticut are like. Again, every state is different in regards to how the adoption process unfolds once you have been matched with a child. The first law to consider is, after signing paperwork terminating parental rights, what the revocation period is. The revocation period is a period of time (which differs from state to state) where the birth parents can legally change their mind about placing their child for adoption. In some states there is no revocation period, and termination of parental rights, commonly referred to as TPR, is irrevocable. In Connecticut TPR paperwork cannot be signed any sooner than 48 hours after birth. The revocation period for adoption in CT is less clear-cut. Birth parents can petition the court to overturn their termination of parental rights anytime before the adoption has been finalized; however, the court will only entertain their case if it can be proven to be in the best interest of the child to return them to their birth family. This leaves this somewhat up to interpretation by each judge presiding in Connecticut, but it is relatively rare that an adoption is overturned unless it can be proven that for one reason or another the adoptive parents are not fit to parent any child.
Once you have been placed with a child, and the revocation period has expired, you can begin to think about finalization. Finalization is the legal process that completes an adoption. There are no specific requirements for adoption in CT regarding post-placement visits, and often, the adoption is finalized by the judge at the hearing for the termination of parental rights After finalization, adoptive parents will have the same legal rights regarding their child as they would for a biological child. After finalization a birth certificate can be issued which adoptive parents can use to then obtain a Social Security Number for the child. It is recommended for all adoptive parents that they obtain a new Social Security Number for their child. This birth certificate will list the adoptive parents and the full name of the child as chosen by the adoptive parents. At birth, an original birth certificate was created that contains the names of the birth parents and the name they may have chosen for the child. After the adoption is finalized, this original birth certificate is sealed and in order to obtain it, the adoptee would have to obtain a court order once they have reached the age of 18. An adult adoptee in a closed adoption can receive records from the placement agency that describe some basic characteristics of their birth parents with identifying information redacted. If an adoptee expresses interest in connecting with birth family, the placement agency is required to make an attempt to locate and contact birth family to see if they consent to the release of their information.
Examining the requirements and laws for adoption in CT, it appears the requirements and laws are fair and balanced which gives both birth parents and adoptive parents reasonable treatment. The home study and preadoption requirements are fairly consistent with other states and adoptions can be finalized rather quickly, which is in the adoptive parents best interest. Overall, Connecticut should be seen as a relatively adoption-friendly state. If you are interested in adoption in CT, your first step would be to decide if you wish to adopt privately (through an agency or attorney) or through foster care. Whatever type of adoption you pursue in CT, it is imperative you work with adoption professionals who are well-versed in CT adoption law and have a good track record of completing adoptions efficiently and ethically.
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