Can I adopt a child if I have a criminal record?

It depends on your past conviction(s) and the past conviction(s) of anyone else living in the adoptive home.[2468] If your past conviction was related to the abuse or neglect of a child, or was for a violent offense, the judge may not allow you to adopt. If you were convicted of abuse or neglect or a violent offense, it you should talk to a lawyer about whether you will still be able to legally adopt a child.[2469] Because the judge is determining what is in the best interest of the child, convictions related to child abuse or neglect will likely bar you from adopting a child.[2470]

    > Convictions that will AUTOMATICALLY Ban You from Adopting a Child:

Whether you are going through an adoption agency, family court, or juvenile dependency court, under state law you may not adopt a child if you have a felony conviction for child abuse or neglect, spousal abuse, any crimes against a child (including child pornography), or for a violent crime such as rape, sexual assault, or homicide).[2471] You also may not adopt a child if you have a felony conviction within the last 5 years for physical assault, battery, or a drug- or alcohol-related offense (in other words, you will have to wait 5 years after the date of your conviction to be able to adopt a child in California).[2472]

So regardless of whether it is a court or an adoption agency reviewing your record, you will not be approved as an adoptive parent if one of the above bans applies.

    > Convictions that MIGHT Ban You from Adopting a Child:

The question above explained state law that automatically prevents people with certain convictions from adopting a child, no matter if it is a court or an adoption agency making the decision.

In addition to those convictions, a family court, dependency court, and/or an adoption agency will also screen and consider the following factors about you:

    How you’ve dealt with difficult or stressful life situations in the past;
    Relationships within your family;
    Ability to take over the responsibility for the care, guidance, and protection of a child;
    Emotional flexibility and stability;
    Self-esteem;
    Coping ability;
    How you accept normal hazards and risks;
    Motivation for adoption;
    Your ability to have a parent-child relationship and to enjoy life with a child;
    Flexibility regarding your expectations of the child.[2473]
    Social background;
    Educational background;
    Financial stability;
    Work adjustment; and
    Adequacy of housing.[2474]

In sum, courts and adoption agencies review every adoption application individually. Your conviction history will be one factor, but depending on your current situation and efforts at rehabilitation, you may still be able to adopt (unless you have a conviction on the list of ones that automatically prevent you from adopting, on PG. 719).

  1. 2468

    Cal. Fam. Code § 8712(c).

  2. 2469

    Cal. Fam. Code § 8712.

  3. 2470

    Cal. Fam. Code § 8612. You may want to speak to a lawyer if there are compelling mitigating factors.

  4. 2471

    Under this law, “crimes involving violence” means those listed in Cal. Health & Safety Code 1522(i)(A) and (g)(B). Cal Fam. Code § 8712(c)(1)(A).

  5. 2472

    Cal Fam. Code § 8712(c)(B).

  6. 2473

    Adoption Program Regulations 35089 OBTAINING IDENTIFYING INFORMATION AND EVALUATING PETITIONERS DURING ASSESSMENT, http://www.dss.cahwnet.gov/ord/entres/getinfo/pdf/adman3.pdf

  7. 2474

    Adoption Program Regulations 35089 OBTAINING IDENTIFYING INFORMATION AND EVALUATING PETITIONERS DURING ASSESSMENT, http://www.dss.cahwnet.gov/ord/entres/getinfo/pdf/adman3.pdf