When You Are Turned Down as an Adoptive Parent

Find information on possible reasons why your social worker didn't approve you for adoption.

When You Are Turned Down as an Adoptive Parent

Rejection doesn't happen much in adoption, because most families who think they might get rejected by an agency drop out of the home study process before it ends. But once in a while, a family is surprised by their rejection. Here are a few reasons why prospective adopters might not be approved for adoption:

  • The social worker is being unreasonable.
  • The social worker feels you are still yearning for a biological child.
  • Few people completely lose their sadness about not being able to have a biological child. But they should work through the issue when they apply to adopt. If the prospective parents have lost a pregnancy or a child, they need time to grieve this loss. Adopted kids should never be “replacement kids.”
  • If your social worker believes that you still need to work on grief issues, at least consider the possibility that she might be right. If you still think she's wrong, talk to her about it. Realize that the social worker may not change her mind; you might need to apply to another agency or attorney. The good news is that you will be prepared to deal with issues of infertility, grief, and loss, should the new social worker bring them up.
  • You lied to the social worker about something serious—such as a previous drug offense.
  • Lying really aggravates most social workers. This does not, however, mean that you must confess every minor infraction that you've ever made. The social worker is not there to give you absolution. She's a person evaluating you as a prospective parent. So when it comes to important issues that would reflect on your ability to raise a child, don't lie.
  • Your references weren't strong—or they were negative.
  • A bad reference might not completely derail your adoption, but it could delay you for months. So don't underestimate their importance.
  • In nearly all cases, your references will be so glowing you'd be embarrassed to read them. But if you've given someone's name as a reference without his knowledge, or if you've given the name of someone who (unbeknownst to you) believes adoption is a bad institution, you could be asking for trouble.
  • You have a serious or life-threatening medical problem.
  • If you have a serious medical problem, you might get turned down. This does not (or should not) include disabilities such as being wheelchair-bound or other chronic problems that will not radically shorten your life span.
  • Is this fair? After all, thanks to medical progress, many serious illnesses can be controlled. The problem is that social workers are supposed to consider the best interests of a child. All other things being equal, they would rather place a child with a healthy family than with one who is not.
  • If you are rejected for health reasons, you might want to reapply to the agency or another agency in a year or two, with a letter from your physician describing your state of health and the prognosis.

I guess the bottom line here is, throughout the entire home study process, sincerity should shine through. You, your family, and your references should always strive to be positive but truthful. Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative. And don't mess with Mr. In-between.

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