Not everyone has skeletons in their closets, but it's a rare individual who doesn't have at least a bone or two there. If you're looking into adoption, it's usually the skeletons, not a few bones, that can cause difficulty. Taken by themselves, past financial problems usually won't disqualify you from adopting. However, both federal and state laws govern adoptions, and agencies may have their own qualifying criteria. The impact of a bankruptcy might depend on where you live and how you're adopting, such as whether it's through the state, internationally or with a private agency.
The Home Study
Almost all adoptions begin with a home study. This involves an agency professional or a state social worker meeting with you on a few different occasions, usually in your home. The professional or social worker wants to determine your character, any difficulties you might be having if you're married, and your relationship and parenting style with your biological children, if you have any. Some aspects of a home study don't involve face-to-face meetings with the agency or state representative, such as background checks. If you've filed for bankruptcy, it's entirely possible your caseworker will learn about it as part of your home study, because bankruptcies are a matter of public record.
Your Financial History
Your adoption application will probably ask you if you've ever filed for bankruptcy and, if so, when. If you have, your social worker will have some questions. Your financial history matters, because the caseworker will want to know that you have the financial ability to raise a child and that you're responsible about paying your bills. You'll probably have to complete a financial statement and provide income documentation as well.
If you've filed for bankruptcy, your caseworker may want a written statement from you for your file, in addition to a verbal summary of what went wrong and what caused to you to seek bankruptcy protection. This is your chance to document the circumstances that led to your filing. Maybe you lost your job or experienced a medical emergency that resulted in a lot of uninsured bills. Even if you were just young and irresponsible when your troubles occurred, running up bills that you had no hope of paying, you can explain how you've matured and that you now see the error of your ways. You can explain how your experience might actually help you teach a child the importance of financial management.
Honesty is the Best Policy
More than anything, home studies look for glaring differences between what you tell your social worker and what a background check indicates about your past. The worst thing you can do is try to hide your bankruptcy only to have the social worker discover it anyway. An honest, open relationship between you and your caseworker is paramount. If you have that, it's more than possible to work through any difficulties your home study presents.
Beverly Bird has been writing professionally since 1983. She is the author of several novels including the bestselling "Comes the Rain" and "With Every Breath." Bird also has extensive experience as a paralegal, primarily in the areas of divorce and family law, bankruptcy and estate law. She covers many legal topics in her articles.