§4 ch9: Permanent Outcomes for Children
Adoption by kin, the current foster family, or a new family, including those licensed for foster/adoptive (FA) care, offers the most stability to the child who cannot return to their parent(s) and is the second most legal binding permanency plan. Except for those instances in which a child has been abandoned by his parents, most children enter out-of-home care due to some combination of abuse and neglect, including parental inability to provide care due to the parent or child’s physical or behavioral problems.
Adoption should be considered an appropriate permanent plan when:
- The goal of return to the custody of the child’s father, mother or legal guardian has been ruled out;
- The goal of guardianship with a relative or kinship provider or placement with a fit and willing relative has been ruled out;
- There is clear, cogent and convincing evidence that one or more grounds for TPR exist and CD has determined that there are no compelling reasons not to file a TPR. The evidence for these grounds must be clearly documented in the case record.
- The child’s parent(s), through words and/or actions, has shown an inability or unwillingness to care for the child for a period of at least six (6) months, and the parent(s) will not be able to provide for the child’s health and safety within a reasonable period of time (6 months).
- The parent(s) have failed to correct those problems and or conditions which contributed to the child’s placement in out-of-home care and are not likely to do so in the near future.
- The parent(s) wants the child to be adopted, or parental rights have been terminated; and/or
- The child wants to be adopted.
Termination of parental rights has serious and lasting consequences to parents and children. Therefore, it is often difficult for Children’s Service Workers and others to recommend termination of parental rights. Conversely, courts may be hesitant to terminate parental rights. However, section 211.447, RSMo, sets forth the grounds for involuntary termination of parental rights and should be used by the worker and others in deciding when to recommend termination of parental rights. If the worker is unsure whether statutory grounds for filing an involuntary TPR exists in a case, the worker may request that their supervisor request a case consultation with a Division of Legal Services attorney.
NOTE: A child is potentially available for adoption until court releases the Division from custody and/or supervision of the child. The case manager shall continue to provide support services and hold regular PPRT meetings until the adoption is finalized and ordered by the Court and jurisdiction is released.
A child placed for adoption must have had a physical, dental (beginning at age three (3) years), and psychological examination/evaluation (beginning at least at age five (5) years) within six (6) months prior to the child’s adoptive placement. Results of these activities shall be included in the required written summary provided to the adoptive parents at the time of placement.