Can a Felon Adopt a Child?

If you want to adopt a child, you must make a candid assessment of your particular circumstances. You must consider whether you possess the financial ability to raise a child. You need to appreciate whether there are elements of your history that may render adopting a child difficult or even impossible. For example, you need to know whether or not a felony conviction in your past will prevent you from adopting a child.


A prior felony conviction does not always result in a bar to adoption, according to Adoption laws in all states allow adoption agencies discretion regarding eliminating an applicant with any type of felony conviction. Only certain types of felony convictions always represent a bar to adoption, according to "Adoption Law: Theory, Policy and Practice" by Cynthia R. Mabry.



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The type of crime impacts whether or not an adoption is possible. A conviction for any type of child abuse, including sexual, presents an absolute bar to adoption. Other felony crimes that do not involve physical harm may not represent an absolute bar to adopting a child.

Times Frame

An adoption agency and a judge in an adoption proceeding consider the length of time between the felony case and seeking to adopt. The greater the length of time, the better the odds that a felony will not prevent an adoption, provided the underlying case does not involve violence.

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The laws of the United States prohibit a U.S. citizen from adopting a child from abroad if she has any type of felony conviction, according to The only course a person can take in this case is to have a prior felony conviction expunged from her record. Expungement legally eliminates a prior conviction, as if it never occurred. Nevertheless, an international adoption agency that learns of the prior felony may still deny an adoption application.


Even if the felony in question is nonviolent and a long time, an adoption agency, at its discretion, may still decline to consider a person as a potential adoptive parent. An agency takes such a step in part to protect its own interests and reputation. Birth parents are less inclined to work with an agency that places children with adoptive parents with felony records, according to "The Law of Adoption" by Margaret C. Jasper.