How to Answer Tricky Questions on Your Adoption Application

by Laura Christianson

You’re filling out your application to adopt when you stumble across a question you’re not sure how to answer. You want to be honest and straightforward, but you’re worried that providing certain information might knock you out of consideration.

Here are some questions about the adoption application that my blog’s readers frequently ask:
What constitutes mental illness?
If someone took an antidepressant for a few years to help with
irritability/mild depression, does that constitute a mental illness that would
prevent adoption?

What constitutes a history of alcohol/drug abuse?
If someone had a DUI 20 years ago but has not had an infraction since then, does that
constitute a history of alcohol/drug abuse?

My response:
If you’re not sure about how to respond to a particular question(s), the first thing to do is to ask for clarification from your adoption caseworker. Your caseworker’s job is NOT to find ways to turn you down, but rather, to find ways to say YES to your application.

In light of the increasingly strict regulations many countries are placing on who can/can’t adopt (China comes to mind), you’ll want to structure your responses so you’ll appear in a positive light. That doesn’t mean you should lie or neglect to tell the whole truth.

Your caseworker will advise you about whether you need to mention the antidepressants you took or the DUI from your past. Generally, your caseworker is looking to see whether mental illness, law-breaking, or addictive behaviors are problems you struggle with now–problems that can negatively impact your ability to parent.

If you’ve faced challenging issues in your past (and who hasn’t?), your caseworker will want to know how you overcame those issues and what strategies you’ll employ as a parent to prevent them from happening again.

Readers, what wisdom do you have to offer about how to respond to these sorts of questions? Please respond in the Comments area or e-mail me and I’ll post a compilation of your suggestions.

 For more news and information about adoption, visit, and
check out my Exploring
Adoption bookstore

Ashleigh Ladde April 16, 2009 at 6:27 AM

Yes any doubts ask for assistance better to have it out then to worry about it during your adoption journey

Stephanie B. August 11, 2009 at 11:53 AM

I have a history of bipolar disorder that actually landed me in the psychiatric hospital for 10 days. For that reason, when I came upon this question in my application I was stymied.
After praying about it, I shared what led up to it, the struggles following it, and where I am at today – including the positive things my psychiatrist has said about me recently.
When we had our interview, although they did want more info, it was pointed out to us that the most important thing they wanted to uncover was RESILIENCY. Keep that in mind.

Erin June 28, 2011 at 8:53 AM

Thanks Stephanie B. that was very encouraging.

Previous post:

Next post: