Adoptive Parents With Criminal Records
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
I dont know
I am not shocked in the least, adoptive parents do not have to be the cream of the crop to be loving caring individuals, I think with criminal checks it is to safe gaurd against the real harsh ones, like sexual preditors killers ect. While I would not allow anyone with a heavy criminal record raise my children I dont believe that an adoptive parent should be ostirsized for a felony commited say in his teens early twenties.yet at the same time I am shocked because so many people put down a birthmother for these very things, stating they should never been allowed to have children, yet when someone is wanting to adopt their criminal records are stuffed under the rug. So yes it is shocking, but under their curcumstances (I read the thread) I dont believe that his criminal record should count.
Well, maybe I'm being too harsh. I suppose certain offenses (especially if they were committed in the distant past) wouldn't have that much bearing on one's ability to parent. I believe one response on the thread mentioned a shoplifting offense, and another mentioned a car theft, both of which occurred when they were pretty young. I guess with offenses like that, they should still have a right to adopt. However, I strongly feel that the birthmother also has a right to make an informed decision when placing. She deserves to be informed of any prior criminal background; if there's a good explanation for it, then perhaps she'll decide to go ahead with it anyway. But for me personally, I couldn't knowingly agree to let someone with a prior conviction for a violent crime (assault and battery) adopt my child. _Sharon
Adoptive Parents
Well, as a new adoptive mother I am shocked. We adopted via a state agency and no we were not allowed to have a felony record. We were told especially assault, domestic violence , or child molestation, rape any such charges would hinder us from adopting. I have a friend that tried to adopt her own nephew and she could not adopt him because her and her husband had domestic violence charges, which was a felony. I feel convicted felons should not be able to adopt not even their own relatives. I don't feel you are being to harsh. Both my husband and I had clean criminal records. With our agency they did a nationwide criminal record check and in pursuing adoption during our initial research process I realized that some private agencies only did a local check on prospective adoptive parents which is very dangerous, because if that person committed a felony in another state the agency would not be able to confirm it. I only found this to be true with private agencies. The state agencies are alot stricter.
Criminal records don't always hold the answers
It is sad to say, that the having a criminal record doesn't really bring out all the worst in people. I guess if someone's past show's evidence of violence of any kind, then I would not consider it safe to have my child in that home. Having said that, I am adoptee who grew up with ministers, where there was physical, emotional, and sexual abuse in the home. You can never judge a person by what is writtten on paper, you have to decide by getting to know them. That is my suggestion to all birthmothers.

re: tlee
I'm so sorry about your situation. I've read a lot of posts recently from adoptees who suffered abuse at the hands of their adoptive parents, and this terrifies me. I'm not losing sight of the fact that abuse also occurs in biological families. I realize that a person does not necessarily have to have a criminal record to be an abuser. But I don't think this means we should just disregard criminal records as meaningless. I work with young children, and in my state, you have to have a full background and criminal check (and a clean record...not just clean of violent crimes and crimes against children, but of ALL felonies) even to WORK with children... I think the same should apply to adopting children. It might not end child abuse, but it might head off obvious potential risks. Sometimes people are arrested by mistake, sometimes there's a totally logical explanation behind it; I realize this. But other times, when a person is arrested for something (DWI, for example) that is not the first time they've engaged in that particular behavior, it's only the first time they've been caught. It would be nice if all potential birthmoms could really get to know the adoptive parents before deciding which ones to entrust their child to. However, this is not always possible, and it becomes even less possible when birthmoms don't have access to pertinent information. _Sharon
I agree with you Ellia...""Well, as a new adoptive mother I am shocked. We adopted via a state agency and no we were not allowed to have a felony record"

They were very stict here also!!! No charges, whatsoever!!! In fact, they even examined the letters from friends and called and questioned them about us. Fingerprints and criminal checks were run before we could even apply to an agency.
So True
You are both so right. Things have changed for the better since I was adopted it sounds. I'm so glad, this is the last thing that a birthmother should have to worry about.
In the province that I live in, DWI is now considered a felony as well (just recently been changed).
I agree Sharon in regards to things like to petty thefts,mischief etc, especially if done when they were young. Everyone deserves a second chance. We were all a little wild and crazy at some point in our youth.

Hi Sharon -

I also read the thread and was somewhat surprised. Since certain criminal records preclude an individual from owning a gun, I would think that the criteria to adopt a child should be even more stringent.

Many people successfully mend youthful wild ways, but do you really want to bet your child's happiness on it?

I guess it depends on the offense and how long ago. I would never feel comfortable giving my child to someone with a DWI arrest or conviction no matter how long ago. I'm a little picky there.

But then, I had a friend arrested and convicted for indecent exposure. I assume that would show up as a sexual offense. He was streaking in the 70's. I would hope something like that would not prevent him from adopting. I have a friend with a drug arrest who was at a party when a raid happened. Everyone at the party was arrested whether or not they even knew that the drugs were present. Most of them pleaded guilty as youthful offenders and were told the records would be expunged. Should that stop him from adopting? Should records like these be expunged?

I'm sure there are false assualt charges filed against some people. I'm sure there are things people do as teenagers they wish they could undo.

I would hope that any arrest would be mentioned and dealt with in the homestudy. I would hope that any expecting mother would be given a chance to see that homestudy. In the case of a closed or semi-open adoption where the identity needs to be left out, leave out the identifying information. But give the expecting mother the chance to decide for herself whether or not she wants a person with a conviction raising her child. Let her know what the arrest is and the explaination behind it and give her the choice of whether or not to let that person raise her child.

After having a day to consider this (I really was shocked to smithereens last night when I read that thread, so I may have gone overboard in my reaction to it...I can be a little naive at times) and reading over your responses, I've come to this conclusion: I think people with non-violent crimes (excluding DWI, which I personally consider a crime of violence, since it shows a reckless disregard for human life) SHOULD be allowed to adopt, have their records expunged after a period of time, or whatever. A non-violent crime should not haunt people for the rest of their lives. However, I think someone with a violent criminal history should NOT be able to adopt...ever. That's it. Everyone makes mistakes, but not everyone ends up with felony convictions. Assault and battery is not a mistake, it's not just "getting a little wild and crazy at a party". I believe a person convicted of a charge like this deserves a second chance... but not a chance to raise someone else's child. If a teacher in my state was arrested for this, he or she would never get a "second chance" to teach again. He or she would have to find something else to do, which did not include being entrusted with the children of others. Again, I'm sorry if I offend anyone by sounding harsh or judgemental. I'm certainly no saint myself, and I understand about people "getting a little wild", but mischief and wildness do not result in felonies; they result in misdemeanors, which I don't think should be held against anyone. When an expecting mother selects an adoptive couple to raise her child, she should be able to TAKE FOR GRANTED that they are law-abiding citizens. Now that I know that's not always the case...I agree with Peggy. The birthmother should be allowed to know about any arrests. Then she can decide for herself whether they matter or not. _ Sharon
oh, and one more thing...

I forgot to mention they they also have a "no smoking" policy. I had my mother staying with me before the baby arrived and she smokes. I was told she will have to move out when the baby arrives. I was surprised at how careful they were. Since I never smoked, this was not a problem for my husband and I.
I'm still trying to figure out how someone with a felony conviction passes a homestudy. Like others that have posted here, I know that you can't get a job at McDonalds or working with children with a felony conviction, so how do you pass a homestudy to adopt one? And if you do pass, is the conviction listed on the homestudy?

Hi Sharon. I'm 90% sure in Michigan you can't adopt with a felony conviction. I might be wrong though, Lord knows that happens a lot, lol. I want to say that my husband has a record. He was arrested when he was 18 for arguing with a police officer that was arresting his friend. He wasn't even in trouble till he wouldn't quit arguing. It was a misdemeanor, he served three months in jail, and I'm eternily grateful that this did not stop us from adopting. My husband is not the person he was back then and I don't feel he should have been punished for something that happened when he was a kid. What they had him do was write a letter on exactly what happened, and what he learned from it. I can see how a felony charge would freak you out. What I know (and it's not much) about Michigan is that you can't have a sexual abuse or any conviction against a child. I'm pretty sure you can't have a felony charge, but I'm not positive on that one. Anyway, as a bmom I can see how it would cause concern, wondering if your child was placed with someone with a conviction on their record.
Cleopatrick... come on. A misdemeanor's nothing. You know that's not what I'm talking least, I hope you know. Sincerely, Sharon
All times are GMT. The time now is 3:29 pm.