(a) A pre-placement investigation shall be made to determine the suitability of each petitioner and the home in which the adoptee will be placed. The investigation shall include a criminal background investigation and any other circumstances which might be relevant to the placement of an adoptee with the petitioners. A copy of the pre-placement investigation shall be filed with the court when the petition for adoption is filed.
(b) An individual or couple may initiate a pre-placement investigation by request directly through the Department of Human Resources or a licensed child placing agency or by filing a request with the probate court. The court may appoint any agency or individual qualified under subsection (d) to perform the pre-placement investigation. Upon completion of the investigation, a copy of the report shall be sent to the petitioners. The report is to be filed with the court at the time of the filing of the petition for adoption.
(c) Unless a pre-placement investigation has been performed within 24 months of the petition or an investigation is dispensed with by court order for good cause shown on the record, no decree for the adoption of any adoptee shall be entered until a full post-placement investigation ordered by the court has been made concerning:
(1) The suitability of each petitioner, and his, her, or their home for the adoptee;
(2) Why the natural parents, if living, desire to be relieved of the care, support, and guardianship of such minor;
(3) Whether the natural parents have abandoned such minor or are otherwise unsuited to have its custody;
(4) Any orders, judgments, or decrees affecting the adoptee or any children of the petitioner;
(5) Any property owned by the adoptee;
(6) The medical histories, both physical and mental, of the adoptee and the biological parents. This history shall be provided to the petitioner in writing before the decree is entered;
(7) Criminal background investigations;
(8) The costs and expenses connected with the adoption; and
(9) Any other circumstances which may be relevant to the placement of the adoptee with the petitioners.
(d)(1) A pre-placement investigation or a post-placement investigation must be performed by one of the following:
a. The Department of Human Resources;
b. A licensed child placing agency;
c. An individual or agency licensed by the department to perform investigations; or
d. An individual appointed by the court who is a social worker licensed by the State Board of Social Work Examiners or a social worker II or above who is under the state Merit System who is also certified by the State Board of Social Work Examiners for private independent practice in the social casework specialty, as provided for in Section 34-30-3.
(2) Notwithstanding subdivision (d)(1), the court on its own motion may order the post-placement investigation be performed by an agency or individual other than the agency placing the adoptee, when the court has cause to believe the investigation is insufficient.
(e) In every adoption proceeding, after a child has been placed in the home, in the post-placement investigation an investigator must observe the adoptee and interview the petitioner in their home as soon as possible after notice of the placement but in any event within 45 days after the placement.
(f) The investigator shall complete and file his or her written report with the court within 60 days from receipt of notice of the proceeding and shall deliver a copy of the report to the petitioner's attorney or to each petitioner if he or she is appearing pro se. The investigation shall include a verification of all allegations of the petition. The report shall include sufficient facts for the court to determine whether there has been compliance with consent or relinquishment provisions of this chapter. The post-placement investigation shall include all of the information enumerated within subdivisions (c)(1) through (c)(9) that was not obtained in the pre-placement investigation required under subsection (a).
(g) Upon a showing of a good cause and after notice to the petitioners, the court may grant extensions of time to the investigator to file his or her investigation.
(h) Notwithstanding this section no investigations shall be required for those adoptions under Sections 26-10A-27 and 26-10A-28.
(i) When the investigation has been conducted, the investigatory report shall not be conclusive but may be considered along with other evidence.
Last modified: May 3, 2021