Procedure for adoptions can be tedious

Date: 2005-12-13

By SYLVIA SLAUGHTER
The Tennessean

Adopting a child, whether from a foreign country or domestically, is a complicated process that involves criminal background checks and lengthy, in-depth studies of potential parents.

Tammy Delle, the director of Bethany Christian Services, the agency through which Phillip and Jennifer Alvey of Spring Hill adopted their daughter, Emma, believes her agency does all it can by law to provide an adopted child with a secure environment. Jennifer Alvey was indicted yesterday on charges in connection with the death of Emma.

The agency requires that all potential adoptive parents do the following in what generally is a six-month screening process:

o Fill out a preliminary questionnaire, which asks general questions such as whether they have a criminal record.

o If the questionnaire is approved, they are asked to fill out a formal application that requires potential parents to submit names of references from their family, friends and employers.

o They must submit information from their local police department about whether they have a criminal record, and they also must have their fingerprints checked by the FBI and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. There must be no history of charges of any crimes committed against a child or of any sex-related crimes in their dossier.

o They must meet with a social worker several times for a home study.

o They must submit information about their childhood, how they met, why they want to become a parents, their ideas on parenting.

o Prospective couples must take parenting classes, which are expected to continue after they have brought the child home.

When all the checks are finished, the caseworker compiles what she believes to be an accurate assessment of their potential to parent.

"Unfortunately, the one thing we as an agency can't do is know everything that is in someone's heart or everything that someone might be capable of," Delle said.

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