Can I Adopt with a Criminal Background?

The short answer is possibly. Background checks are required for all prospective parents in an adoption matter. In Pennsylvania, there are three background checks that are required: Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance through the Department of Human Services, Pennsylvania Criminal Record Checks through the State Police, Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Criminal Background Check through the Department of Welfare. New Jersey requires state, federal and local criminal history checks. These background checks must also be completed for all other adult household members where the adoptee will reside.

If a prospective parent has lived outside of the current state in the five (5) years immediately preceding the adoption petition, similar background checks must be acquired from each state where he or she previously resided. Background checks must be less than one year old at the time of the adoption hearing. The mere existence of a record does not automatically disqualify you from successfully adopting a child. It is up to the court to look at the nature of the record and whether it poses risk to a child. If there is no substantial risk, the adoption may still proceed. Additionally, if an adult is being adopted, prior criminal background is not an issue since the adult adoptee is consenting to the adoption.   By April M. Townsend