To adopt in Rhode Island, you must be over 18 years old and a permanent resident of the state. Any adult can adopt a child, but the state requires a home residency (or home study) before the adoption can be finalized.
If you are married, you and your spouse must adopt together, but any person can adopt someone younger than them, regardless of race, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, and homeownership.
Still, the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) will conduct a home study before placing a child into your care.
What Do They Look for in a Home Study?
During a home study, DCYF looks for safety, stability, and support. To determine whether your home is safe, stable, and supportive, your caseworker will gather information about you and the members of your household. More specifically, your caseworker will evaluate your:
- Motivations for choosing adoption
- Childcare experience
- Parenting style
- Income and employment
- Marriage and divorce history
- Physical and mental health
- Alcohol and drug use
- Criminal background
All members of your household will be included in the study, and children will only be placed with prospective parents who are in good health and have enough resources to raise a child.
If any member of your household has been convicted of a crime that would put a child at risk, your application for adoption may be denied. Similarly, your adoption application may be denied if your home is unsafe, or you falsify or omit information.
What Do I Need to Do?
Your home study will consist of paperwork and visits. You and all the adults in your home will need to get background checks, and you will need to submit reference letters from at least 3 individuals, 2 of whom are not related to you. You will also need to submit your employment and financial history and get medical and psychological screenings from a licensed physician.
Later, a DCYF representative will inspect your home for safety issues and conduct an interview with you and your family.
To adopt, you will need to submit all paperwork DCYF requests and prepare for your home inspection and interview in advance.
Do I Need Legal Help?
Some forms of adoption can be completed without outside legal help, but an attorney can always be helpful. Whether you need someone to help you with paperwork, or you need to negotiate the terms of a private adoption, McIntyre Tate LLP is here to help.
We have more than 150 years of combined legal experience, and we strive to offer compassionate support while exceeding your expectations.
If you need help with your adoption case, please call us at (401) 351-7700 or send us a message online.