The Potential Impact of a Drunk Driving Conviction on Adoption Proceedings
In 2007, a Minnesota couple spent an excruciating couple of months in limbo, with the adoption of a daughter from China help up because of a past DWI charge against the adoptive father. The mother had already traveled to China and had custody of the adopted daughter, but was stuck in China when the USCIS denied her return entry with the child, based on the father’s DUI charge. The father had completed all court-required rehabilitation and had passed a second home study.
Dealing with a DUI When You Want to Adopt
There are no laws governing eligibility to adopt when you have been charged or convicted of drinking and driving. The first hurdle you must clear is with your adoption agency. The adoption agency is charged with ensuring that the adopted child is placed in a safe and nurturing home. To make that assessment, the agency conducts what is known as a “home study,” where they evaluate your fitness as a parent, as well as your ability to provide a stable and nurturing environment. A DUI charge or conviction will likely be considered during the home study.
The best thing you can do is be up front about what happened. If the agency sees that it was a mistake, that you acknowledge the error of your ways, that you have remorse, and that you have taken steps to remediate your behavior, there’s a good chance they will determine that it was an anomaly and approve your home study.
Even though your home study is approved, you must still meet all requirements for bringing your child into the United States, if you are involved in an international adoption. The USCIS has broad powers to deny entry, as was seen in the Minnesota case. Again, your best option is to be up front about your charge or conviction. When dealing with USCIS, though, you also want to work through an attorney. The immigration laws are complex, and immigration officials have a completely different agenda than adoption agency personnel.
At the office of Joanne E. Kleiner & Associates, we have more than 25 years of family law experience. We’ll help you stay focused on what matters. To schedule an appointment with an experienced Pennsylvania divorce attorney, contact our office online or call us at 215-886-1266.