A. Before any prospective adoptive parent may petition to adopt a child the person shall be certified by the court as acceptable to adopt children. A certificate shall be issued only after an investigation conducted by an officer of the court, by an agency, by the department or by an entity contracted by the department to do an investigation and home study for foster home licensing or preadoption certification. A written application for certification shall be made directly to the court, to an agency, to the department or to an entity contracted by the department, in the form and content required by the court, agency or department.
B. The department is not required to accept every application for certification. In determining which applications to accept the department may give priority to applications filed by adult residents of this state who wish to adopt a child who has any special needs as defined in section 8-141.
C. After receiving and accepting the written and completed application of the prospective adoptive parent or parents, which shall include a financial statement and a physician’s or a registered nurse practitioner’s statement of each applicant’s physical health, the department, the agency, an officer of the court or the entity contracted by the department shall conduct or cause to be conducted an investigation of the prospective adoptive parent or parents to determine if they are fit and proper persons to adopt children.
D. The department shall not present for certification a prospective adoptive parent unless that person and each other adult member of the household have a valid fingerprint clearance card issued pursuant to section 41-1758.07. The prospective adoptive parent and each other adult member of the household must certify on forms that are provided by the department and that are notarized whether that person is awaiting trial on or has ever been convicted of any of the criminal offenses listed in section 41-1758.07, subsections B and C in this state or similar offenses in another state or jurisdiction.
E. An officer of the court may obtain a state and federal criminal records check pursuant to section 41-1750 and Public Law 92-544. The department of public safety may exchange this fingerprint data with the federal bureau of investigation.
F. This investigation and report to the court shall consider all relevant and material facts dealing with the prospective adoptive parents’ fitness to adopt children and shall include:
1. A complete social history.
2. The financial condition of the applicant.
3. The moral fitness of the applicant.
4. The religious background of the applicant.
5. The physical and mental health condition of the applicants.
6. Any court action for or adjudication of child abuse, abandonment of children, dependency or termination of parent-child relationship in which the applicant had control, care or custody of the child who was the subject of the action.
7. Whether the person or persons wish to be placed on the central registry established in subsection M of this section.
8. All other facts bearing on the issue of the fitness of the prospective adoptive parents that the court, agency or department may deem relevant.
G. The investigator shall not reveal to the prospective adoptive parents the identity of a child or the child’s parent or parents and shall not reveal to the child or the child’s parent or parents the identity of the prospective adoptive parents if these facts are not already known.
H. Within ninety days after the original application prescribed by subsection A of this section has been accepted, the department, the agency or the entity contracted by the department or a person or agency designated by the court to conduct an investigation shall present to the juvenile court the written report required by subsection F of this section, which shall include a definite recommendation for certifying the applicant as being acceptable or nonacceptable to adopt children and the reasons for the recommendation.
I. Within sixty days after receiving the investigation report required by subsections F and H of this section, the court shall certify the applicant as being acceptable or nonacceptable to adopt children based on the investigation report and recommendations of the report. A certification remains in effect for eighteen months from the date of its issuance and may be extended for additional one year periods if after review the court finds that there have been no material changes in circumstances that would adversely affect the acceptability of the applicant to adopt.
J. The court may require additional investigation if it finds that additional information is necessary on which to make an appropriate decision regarding certification.
K. Any applicant who has been certified as nonacceptable may petition the court to review that certification. Notice shall be given to all interested parties and notice may be given to the foster care review board if the child sought to be adopted is in out-of-home placement and is a dependent child or the subject of a dependency action. The matter shall be heard by the court, which may affirm or reverse the certification.
L. If the applicant is certified as nonacceptable, the applicant may not reapply for certification to the court, to any agency, to the department or to an entity contracted by the department for one year.
M. The department shall maintain a central adoption registry that includes the names of all prospective adoptive parents currently certified by the court as acceptable to adopt children, except those who request that their names not be included, the names of all children who are under the jurisdiction of the department and who are currently available for adoption, the names of any other children who are currently available for adoption and whose names are voluntarily entered in the registry by any agency, parent or other person that has the right to give consent to the child’s adoption, and other information as the department may elect to include in aid of adoptive placements. Access to information in the registry shall be made available on request to any agency under assurances as the department may require that the information sought is in furtherance of adoptive placements and that confidentiality of the information is preserved.
N. This section does not apply if:
1. The prospective adoptive parent is the spouse of the birth or legal parent of the child to be adopted or is an uncle, aunt, adult sibling, grandparent or great-grandparent of the child of the whole or half-blood or by marriage or adoption.
2. The birth or legal parent is deceased but at the time of death the parent had legal and physical custody of the child to be adopted and the child had resided primarily with the spouse of the birth or legal parent during the twenty-four months before the death of the parent.
3. The grandparent, great-grandparent, uncle, aunt, great-uncle, great-aunt or adult sibling is deceased but at the time of death that person had legal and physical custody of the child to be adopted and the child had resided primarily with the spouse of the grandparent, great-grandparent, uncle, aunt, great-uncle, great-aunt or adult sibling during the twenty-four months before the death of the grandparent, great-grandparent, uncle, aunt, great-uncle, great-aunt or adult sibling.
4. The applicant is a licensed foster parent who is petitioning to adopt a child currently placed by the department in the foster parent’s home and the department recommends the adoption of the child by the foster parent applicant.
O. If the applicant is not a licensed foster parent and has adopted a child within three years preceding the current application and is applying to adopt another child, the department, the agency or an entity contracted by the department or a person designated by the court to conduct an investigation shall only provide an update report on any changes in circumstances that have occurred since the previous certification. If the applicant has adopted a child more than three years before the current application and is applying to adopt another child, the department, the agency or an entity contracted by the department or a person designated by the court to conduct an investigation may provide an updated report on any changes in circumstances that have occurred since the previous certification. The court shall certify the applicant as acceptable to adopt unless there are changes in circumstances that adversely affect the applicant’s parenting ability. In making this determination, the court shall consider information from the prior certification.