I just read a thread which had to do with adoptive mothers and fathers who have criminal records, some for violent or alcohol-related offenses, some with multiple arrests for these offenses. The thread is entitled "Husband's past arrests", and it is in the International Adoption forum, under "Immigration and Naturalization". I am shocked speechless. It simply never occurred to me that people with criminal records could adopt. There were a lot of helpful replies to the original post, from other couples who had managed to adopt despite their criminal records, suggesting ways of getting around this obstacle, such as adopting overseas, trying to get the criminal record expunged, etc... My question is to both birthmothers and adoptive mothers (and adoptees too)... Did anybody else know this was going on? Is anybody as surprised by this as I am? Do you agree with it? Disagree? Do you think that birthparents have a right to be informed if the prospective adoptive couple have criminal records? I'm not trying to be judgmental here. I suppose anyone can make a mistake; but come on, they won't even hire you at McDonald's with a felony record. Should a convicted felon really be entrusted to raise someone else's child? To be fair, most of the offenses discussed in the thread had happened long ago, at least five years prior to the adoption. The most commonly discussed crimes were assault (the adoptive fathers getting into fights) and DWIs, sometimes multiple convictions. True, these aren't exactly the same as rape and murder, but birthmothers give their children to others out of a belief that the adoptive parents can raise them better and give them a better life. Theoretically, I believe everyone deserves a second chance... but emotionally I'm horrified! I'm really torn on this issue, and would appreciate any input I can get. Do you think that convicted criminals should be allowed to adopt? _ Sharon
To me, it seems more imperative that the parents who will be RAISING the child be thoroughly investigated, rather than the parents who will be giving up all rights to the child at birth. The issue is the safety of the child, not what the adult members of the triad feel is "fair". In both of your posts, I get the feeling that you advocate LESS background investigation for people attempting to adopt. To me, this is really frightening. I'd like to believe that everyone involved in adoption would put the best interest of the child above their own personal concerns. ~ Sharon
Sharon, I was thinking the exact same thing when I was reading the posts. It's the person that will be raising the child that they need to make sure is not a convicted abuser or molester. I do feel that the bmom had a moral obligation to tell the aparents that she had been doing drugs. There is no way, however, to force them to tell. The ONLY reason I think that the bmom should tell this is so that the aparents will be ready for any future problems that may come about due to the drug use. Not so aparents can turn down the not so perfect child since, to me, all children are perfect. I have never had a problem with getting a home study done, I've had four now. Yeah, it disrupts our life and makes things difficult for awhile, but I know we will pass since I know we don't have anything bad in our past. (Just the jail thing, but we covered that here already, lol). The way I see it is, if a homestudy stops just one person from adopting that would have abused their child then it's worth it for me to be put out for awhile. Can you imagine the poor child that knows that they were abused by someone who CHOSE them, not had them by chance. Same goes with foster care, which is my first home study that was done. The last thing an abused child needs is to be taken from the abusive home and put into another one. So, yes, take my life apart and make sure I'm alright, and use the same methods to stop people who AREN'T alright from destroying someone's life.
hi i have read many of the post on this page. i was taught to judge a person for who they are. not what they have or bye what they have done. 3 years ago i met a man and married him he has a felony conviction for assult on a minor. before you judge him you should know the facts and know him he is the most loving daddy to my two girls i could ever ask for! my ex- husband was a good man till he became an alcvholic and manic depressive i hid it from friends and family till i and my children could no longertake it, when i et my husband now married for three years i was hesitant when i found out about his record luckily i had a friend who was a police chief in arkansas he told me that my husband then boy friend was a really good guy and his record was not fair his question to me was what would you do if you walked in on your spouse in bed with someone else ? you see his ex-wife was sleeping with a 15 year old that did not look 15 unfortunatly my husband got in trouble ver hitting the man (boy) she was sleeping with while nothing happened to her for sleeping with a minor you see my point is give everyone a chance find out the facts i thank god every day for my husband i have been happier the last 3 years than i was for 13 with my ex god gave my daughters the most wonderful daddy he could and he has adopted them i would love to adopt a child with him since i can no longer have any more but unfortunatly the record is there and that is all people see till we can all see a person and find facts it's not fair to judge everyone yes i will say there are exceptions child abuse sexual abuse but would still want to see the facts please know i am not judging people for being careful i was my children are my life but give people a chance before you push them aside because of a record sincerely mrs cortney allen
Cortney, I am very sorry about your situation. "Getting the facts" is exactly what I am advocating. However, in many cases the "facts" about adoptive parents' criminal histories are not available to prospective birthmothers. This is what I believe needs to change. Many birthmothers are young/ single/ low income at the time of placement, and are led to believe that because of this, an adoptive family would be better able to parent their child and provide their child with a good life. Birthmothers need to be AWARE of the facts so that they can make an informed decision. If the facts are that the adoptive parent has been convicted of violent felonies, the potential birthmother needs to know this. If there is a good explanation behind it, she needs to be aware of that, too. People say, "Don't judge", but in fact it is a birthmother's right and RESPONSIBILITY to judge... she must judge whether her child will be better off with her, or with an adoptive family. Then she must judge which adoptive family will be best for her child. In order for her to make a responsible decision for her child, all the facts must be made available. ~Sharon
thank you for writing back i agree that all info should be available i also feel that many women are not able to get all info and are told many lies if we can call it that my mother gave up my sister in 1965 when many things were different i wish for the sake of all people all info would be available i know it is a very hard decision and every woman should have the right of info i wish there were a way the actual parents and perspective parents could actually know each other before a decision was made i think things would be better off. thank you again for latting me voice my opion and i pray for all that someday this will be an easier situation for every one involed sincerely cortney
The best interest of a child does not include doing drugs while pregnant. It does not include attempting to hide that from both the agency and the adoptive parents. I have never said that I advocated a less thorough approach to homestudies. What I am advocating is making facts available to adoptive parents as well. As it is, we only have whatever "facts" the birthparents choose to disclose. We have since found out that the birthmother was refused at the agency she used before because of testing postive for drug use and that social services has been involved with the 4 children she is parenting on more than one occasion due to drug use. I don't know if that would have affected our decision, I didn't have any of the facts when we made the decision. As it is, we are thankful to have our daughter and are willing to deal with any long term problems the drug exposure may have caused. (We have since found out that the baby tested positive for both cocaine and amphetimines as well, indicating, according the the doctor, use very close to the time of birth.) I don't think it is asking too much to hold birthparents to a standard of disclosing things that may affect the child, such as drug use. That is the point I am trying to convey. And no, not all birthmothers do drugs or abuse alcohol. But if they do, I think adoptive parents have a right to know so we can be prepared to deal with that if the child does suffer the consequences. And couldn't drug and alcohol use during pregnancy also be child abuse?
Yes, abusing drugs while pregnant does constitute child abuse as far as I'm concerned, but the fact is that the birthmother of your child had no intention of being a parent to this child anyway. If she had not made a voluntary plan to relinquish, there is a good chance the child would've been taken involuntarily from her at birth, due to her substance abuse. It seems a waste of time and resources to investigate someone for "child abuse" when there is no child to abuse, only a fetus in her womb who is still, legally and technically, part of her own body. The relevance of criminal background only comes into play once the child is born. If you had known about the substance abuse, then what? Would you have declined to adopt the child? If so, then is it really in the adoption agency's best interest to provide you with this information? They are a business after all, I assume they are out to make money like any other business. I agree that the facts should be disclosed to all parties; knowledge is power, and always preferable to ignorance. But it would be difficult for any agency to demand an investigation of a prospective birthmother's background without frightening her away, and then where would we be? There would be no babies to adopt. The agency and the adoptive parents are realistically in no position to demand anything of the potential birthmother, as "unfair" as this may seem. And truthfully, would it have benefitted your child in any way if this information had been disclosed to you sooner? I realize it would've benefitted YOU, I realize it would've been more fair to YOU, but would it have been any better for your child, if you had known this beforehand? I am not advocating criminal background checks for adoptive parents because I think it is in the BIRTHMOTHER'S best interest to know, but because it is in the child's. The adoptive parents will effect the child's future. The birthmother can only effect the child's past, since she will no longer be part of the child's life after he is born. Would your child, at this moment, be better off somehow if your agency had provided you with a full disclosure of the birthmother's criminal behavior prior to his birth? Again, it isn't about what would benefit the adult members of the triad, but what will ultimately benefit the child. ~Sharon
I agree that you should have been told about the bmoms drug use as that can really effect the health of the adopted child. It is unfortunate that there are children living with her at this time, I do hope that she can do drug re-hab and be the mother that God intended her to be. My prayers are with you and your adopted child, that the choices made by the birth mother will not effect her in any way. I am very new at trying to express myself to others, it is something that I am getting better at, so please forgive anything that might offend anyone. I tend to call a spade a spade. Yes, I believe that people should be judged by who they are now, and the circumstances that were there at the time of any arrests. I firmly believe that persons that are arrested for willfull abuse of children and or their spouses, should not be a cantidate for adoption, especially if it involves sexual abuse of any kind, no matter how insignificant it may have been at that time. Both sides of coin, a prospective adoptive couple can, as far as I know, do a background check on the bmom. The couple that adopted my son in 1985 did a background check on me, and I was more than willing to help them in any way I could. All they were interested in (BOTTOM LINE) Was a child to raise and love as their own, they were not concerned about sex, race, color or any of those trivial things. They just wanted a child to love. The CHild is the issue here, we can pick each-other apart all day long, but inhouse studies are needed for adoptive parents. No not all bmoms are great people, but no one can gaurantee that you will have a healthy child, regardless of drug use or not. There was information I did not have about medical history in my family, until they had had my son for 2 years. Would that have changed their mind?? I know it would not have. It is a chance that you take any time a life is brought into this world, all we can do is our best to protect and love them. To all of you--both sides, may God bless and guide you in the decisions you make.
I am an adoptive mother of 2 children both of which had drug exposure prior to birth. My daughter age 7 tested positive at birth to opiates and barbituates, she was not removed from birthmom at the time of her birth. The social worker was sympathetic to mom, my daughter was removed at 17 months of age when mom was arrested for dealing Heroin. I obviously did have information from DSS regarding her birth exposure because of the hospital records. I wouldn't have had any accurate information if it had been left up to bmom. It would never have changed my decision to parent my daughter with/without info but it makes a difference in watching out for her best interests. As for adoptive parents having criminal records, any felony conviction would not happen in the state I live in (I don't believe). To be a volunteer in a child's classroom, parents must have a criminal background check and if there is any BLEMISH on it (even if cases are dimissed and/or non violent, ie:driving with a suspended license for non payment of excise tax or previous unpaid parking tickets) you are not allowed to be in the classroom at all.
sharon, my husband does not have a criminal record as such but 13 years ago when he was 19 and in the army oversees, he wrote a bunch of bad checks he paid for them, went to a class for check writing and banking and lost rank. because of this problem he can not pass his DOJ fingerprints. All others came back fine. We are trying to become foster parents, everything is complete, can someone out there please help us with info. If a true criminal can adopt why are we being shafted. we do not have the money to go oversees. we want to foster-adopt a biracial child. please help thanks Sharon Prudente
Prudente, I wish I had answers for you. Apparently, people with far more serious records than your husband are able to adopt. What I think you need to do is contact the State and see about getting the record expunged. If you post about this problem in the adoptive parents' forum, I'm sure they will have a lot of good advice for you. All I can say is, if and when you decide to adopt a child, I hope you will be honest with the birthmother about this situation. Just explain it to her; if it's not any big deal, I'm sure she'll understand. However, I do believe she has the right to know. Best of luck to you. :) Sincerely, ~Sharon
I have read through this thread and it scares me that you all feel that way about someone who made several mistakes in my past. In college, I was charged with a felony for a HOT CHECK for books. Yes a felony. I had 3 bad checks. One for pizza, one for the cleaners and one for an $587 check for my books because my parents cut me off. I was charged with 2 misdemeanors and the third check was enhanced to a 3rd degree felony. I was given 10 yrs probabtion and could not endure their involvement in my life and stop going to meetings. Yep so guess what after moving away and starting over and living for 8 yrs, it caught up to me, I was speeding because my mother was dying and my nephew was late to school and I got pulled over. Yep and it happened. Arrested. Job lost and now what, YES, they sent me to prison. No, I never had any drug issues, no I never had any issues with paying my fines, I just could understand why I had to answer to someone for this long when I was living my life as a decent productive citizen and got feed up with it. I watched movie stars get away with things much worse than $587. So now I sat in prison for years, but I did not come out bitter. I started my life again. I finished school -- older -- 30's. I started to work. I date and here I am in my early 40's and have been diagnosied with a Fibroid that causes me to have a hysterectomy. Not married, still no kids, and lots of love and ability to care for one -- physicially, mentally, and emotionally. Now because I have this felony on my records, you all feel that I don't deserve to raise a child. I have a degree. I work for one of largest construction companies in the US. I handle millions of dollars and have no desire to make a mess of my life or anyone elses. But you all feel that my mistake is cause enough to believe that I will not raise or properly care for a child who has no one to care for it. WHY? WHY so judgemental? Will I really not be able to adopt a child because of this? Will my life really not know that great blessing of motherhood? This scares me.
One of my former foster kids was in a group home...she got attacked flipped out & pulled the fire alarm. Felony 3 days after turning 18. Sorry but that alone should not prevent her from adopting should she choose to. Not all felonies are the same level of terrible.
IMO, having been arrested doesn't make one a "criminal". Think of a black man in the south during Civil rights. Now, for a person who actually committed a crime: it's possible it was a one-time thing; he/she turned his/her life around. It's not just that black and white.