My husband and I are getting ready to begin the international adoption process, and wondering whether it is necessary to disclose something. Thirty years ago, my husband was convicted on a drug possession misdemeanor. The conviction has since been expunged and the record is sealed. We know honesty is the best policy, but since the record is sealed and the conviction expunged, is this something we need to disclose during the home study?

Yes, honesty is always the best policy. While I understand that this incidence happened thirty years ago, it is still necessary to share with your social worker during the home study of this incidence. As you stated, you are adopting internationally, so you will be required to have State, Federal and possibly FBI fingerprints done. Even though you believe the charges were expunged and the record is supposed to be sealed, there are many offices who will be reviewing your fingerprints. So keep in mind that there is a chance that your husband’s conviction will come out and then you will look deceitful, if you had not previously made a full disclosure to your social worker This was not a crime against a child or a crime with a weapon and it happened thirty years ago. If there has been no further incidences and your husband attributes this to immaturity and his youth, it seems explainable and should not preclude you from adopting. The social worker will state just that the incidence occurred, there were no further incidences and that after a careful examination of your home, he or she felt it was a safe environment for a child to live in. At times, an adoption agency will request that the social worker write a ‘revised’ home study, leaving out any mention of past indiscretions or even the typical statement that you do not currently have any drug or alcohol issues, because some foreign countries have difficulty understanding this when translated. A thorough complete report including past and current issues is sent to USCIS and of course the agency, but the revised home study is for the dossier to be sent to the country you are adopting from.

I hope this answers your question. Good luck to you and your husband as you pursue your journey to creating your forever family.

Best Regards,

Leslie Zindulka, LCSW-R

Ms. Leslie Zindulka, L.C.S.W.-R is a New York State licensed clinical social worker with over a decade of experience in the adoption field. Ms. Zindulka has both personal and professional adoption experience. Ms. Zindulka writes a monthly column for the AdoptionDoctors.com Web site and limits her practice to adoption home studies. Her clients include married couples, singles, stepparents and those over forty. Request a home study consultation