PUBLIC SAFETY AND WELFARE
I. Before the petition is heard, in the adoption of a related minor child, or an adoption of a minor child through an agency, an assessment shall be made by the department, or by a licensed child-placing agency into the conditions of the petitioner for the purpose of ascertaining whether the adoptive home is a suitable home for the minor child and whether the proposed adoption is in the best interest of the minor child. In determining whether the petitioner will be able to give the prospective adoptee a proper home and education, the court shall give due consideration to any assurance by the commissioner or designee that the commissioner will provide or contribute funds for the necessary maintenance or medical care of the prospective adoptee under an adoption subsidy agreement. The court has the discretion to also request an assessment of the extended birth family of a minor child sought to be adopted. The written report of the assessment shall be filed with the court by the investigating agency not later than 60 days after the petition has been filed in the probate court.
II. In the adoption of a minor child, other than a related minor child or an adoption through an agency, the potential adoptive parents shall request such an assessment by the department, or by a licensed child-placing agency, at least 30 days before the minor child is placed in the parents' home. Failure to comply with the provisions of this paragraph shall be grounds for dismissal of the petition for adoption, provided that such petition may be granted upon a showing that the failure to request an assessment within such 30-day period was not due to the petitioners' culpable negligence or their willful disregard of the provisions of this paragraph. However, prior to the hearing on the petition, an assessment by the department, or by a licensed child-placing agency, shall be filed with the court.
III. Notwithstanding the provisions of RSA 170-B:18, I and II, the court may proceed to hearing and decree without an assessment where one of the adoptee's parents will remain a parent. If the court has waived or limited the extent of an assessment pursuant to RSA 170-C:9, II, the court may order the petitioners to consult with a child-placing agency licensed pursuant to RSA 170-E to consider whether adoption is in the best interests of the minor child subject to the petition and themselves.
IV. The department or a licensed child-placing agency making the required assessment may request other departments or licensed child-placing agencies within or outside this state to make the assessment or designated portions thereof as may be appropriate. Where such written assessments are made, a written report shall be filed with the court; provided, however, said report shall not violate RSA 170-A, the interstate compact on the placement of children.
V. Notwithstanding the provisions of RSA 170-B:18, I and II, in the adoption of a related minor child, the court may, for good cause shown, proceed to a hearing and a decree without an assessment when both of the following circumstances are met:
(a) The parents of the minor child have surrendered their parental rights; and
(b) The minor child has resided with the petitioners to whom the child is related for at least 3 years prior to filing the petition for adoption.
VI. Notwithstanding any of the above requirements, the court shall require a background check in all private adoption proceedings if there has not been an assessment. The background check shall include both a criminal records check conducted by the New Hampshire state police and a search of the abuse and neglect registry maintained by the department. If the court has information that the petitioner has lived in another state, the court may also request a search of that state's abuse and neglect registry.
VII. The court shall require a background check in all adoption proceedings initiated by the department or by another child placing agency. The background check shall consist of a fingerprint-based criminal record check of national crime information databases for all prospective adoptive parents and any other adults living in the home, as well as a central registry check for all prospective adoptive parents and any other adult living in the home.
(a) For the criminal record check required under this paragraph, the department shall submit the prospective adoptive parents' fingerprints and the fingerprints of any other adults living in the home to the department of safety, division of state police, for forwarding to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Upon completion of the criminal record check, the division of state police shall forward the results to the department.
(b) The central registry check shall include a check of the department's central registry of founded reports of child abuse and neglect under RSA 169-C:35 and shall include a check of the child abuse and neglect registries in any other state in which the prospective adoptive parent or other adult living in the home has resided in the preceding 5 years. Information obtained from another state pursuant to this subparagraph shall be used only for the purposes of conducting the background checks.
Source. 2004, 255:1. 2007, 325:2, 3, eff. July 1, 2007. 2017, 136:1, eff. June 16, 2017. 2020, 26:4, eff. Jan. 1, 2021.