Adoption During a Pandemic

An already lengthy adoption process has been impacted by the restrictions imposed by COVID-19 social distancing policies and travel restrictions. The global pandemic has influenced methods of in-home inspection, travel safety, and the need for a safe and consistent home. Though a global crisis presents prospective parents with a new list of challenges to overcome, many states are looking to keep processes moving forward in hopes of safely placing ready to adopt children in homes.

Children In Need of Homes Are Especially Vulnerable

Children are especially vulnerable during times of crisis. Children placed in foster care are often at higher risk of acute health conditions as a result of stress and trauma. Additionally, children placed in group homes or facilities may be at an elevated risk of contracting COVID-19. In larger institutions, children are vulnerable to the adverse effects of social isolation as a result of physical distancing measures in place. Children with existing foster home placement may be at risk of relocation due to loss of employment or in homesickness, impacting a child’s access to a consistent living environment. College students who have aged out of foster care systems may be at risk of homelessness due to school shutdowns and residence hall closings. Finally, adoption processes may be slowed down as a result of delays in court hearings and in-home assessments.

Travel Restrictions

Travel safety restrictions and reduced airline schedules may impact interstate or international adoptions. Non-essential travel is not currently recommended. For circumstances that require travel, CDC safety guidelines can provide recommendations for safer trips. Domestic and international ordinances and travel advisories may impact cross-border adoption cases. 

How Has COVID-19 Impacted Traditional Adoption Processes

Home studies and in-home assessments may require adaptation during the pandemic. There is some flexibility regarding the timing of these assessments in the adoption process, granting families much needed leniency. For domestic adoptions, in-person requirements can be rescheduled. In some instances, previous in-person visits may be considered satisfactory and the process can continue. Requirements for home study interactions vary state to state, however, many states are allowing some aspects of home studies to be completed virtually. In Washoe County, virtual training was implemented to enable families to move forward with the adoption process despite the pandemic. For international adoptions, U.S. citizenship and immigration services maintains a requirement for three in-person visits. Many post-adoption assessments, court hearings, and finalizations, however, have been delayed as a result of COVID-19 restrictions. 

Kimberly Surratt served for eight years on the executive council and has been the vice chair and then chair of the State Bar of Nevada Family Law Section. In addition, she is the President-Elect of the Nevada Justice Association and the chair of the domestic lobbying committee. She has lobbied with the Nevada Justice Association since 2004.

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