The Adoption Application Process

A petition for adoption of a child by an unrelated person must be filed within 30 days of the minor being placed with the prospective adoptive parents. The child must live with the person seeking adoption for at least one year if that person is a stepparent or another close relative. The residence requirements can be waived by the court if the court feels this is in the best interest of the adoptee.

The petition for an adoption can be filed with the probate court in any of the following counties:

  • The county where the minor resides
  • The county where the petitioner resides or is in military service
  • The country where the office of the agency having guardianship of the child is located

Relinquishing Parenting Rights of a Child

A relinquishment or consent for adoption can be given at any time during the adoption process. A probate judge must witness the mother signing the consent during pre-birth. Any other pre-birth or post-birth consent must be signed in the presence of a probate judge, a clerk of the probate court, someone appointed by the probate court or a Public Notary. The relinquishment or consent must be in the same form as allowed by the adoption code and must be in writing and signed by the person who is relinquishing or consenting the adoption.

A consent form or a relinquishment to an adoption is legally allowed to be withdrawn for any reason five days after the birth of the adoptee or five days after the consent or relinquishment has been signed. The period for withdrawal can be extended to 14 days by the court if the court finds that this delay is reasonable and is in the best interest of the child.

A minor is legally allowed to consent to the adoption of their child so long as they have a guardian ad litem appointed to them by the court to represent the minor's best interest. A minor 14 years of age or older can appoint their own guardian ad litem to represent their best interest.

The Process for Adoptions by Relatives

In most cases, when a person is being adopted by a family member or a stepparent, there are fewer formalities and fewer requirements for the adopting parents to meet. When a person is adopted by a stepparent or a family member there are no pre-placement or post-placement investigations. There also is not an accounting of the cost related to an adoption. In addition, the person being adopted must have lived with the adopting party for at least one year unless the residency requirement has been waived by the court. The residency requirement can be waived by the court if there is good cause shown by the adopting party.

More often than not grandparents surrender their visitation rights when their natural grandchildren's parents surrender their rights following an adoption. There are instances where the court can allow the grandparents to visit their now adopted grandchild if the child has been adopted by a close relative or a stepparent and the visitation is in the child's best interest.

Adoption of a Child by Non-Relatives

The longest process of adoption is an un-related adoption. The first step of this process is for the adopting party to petition the court, the Department of Human Resources, or a Licensed Child Placing Agency. This is the pre-placement investigation part of the process. Step two is when all of the necessary consents or relinquishments regarding the adoption are obtained by the court. In the event of a contested hearing, or when either natural parent of an adoptee is a minor, a guardian ad litem will be appointed. The court must now be petitioned for the authority to pay the adoption fees, which is followed by the placement of the adopted child with the petitioners. Within 30 days of placement, a petition for adoption must be filed and serve notice to all parties entitled to notice of the adoption. The post-placement investigation must now take place, and this is followed by hearings, affidavits of non-payment, and finally accounting of disbursements.

Consent to an adoption must be given in the following circumstances:

  • The child is 14 years or older unless deemed mentally incapable of making a decision
  • The adoptee's mother
  • The adoptee's father
  • The agency that holds permanent custody of the adoptee unless the court grants the adoption because it is in the child's best interest
  • The putative father, if known, and responds within 30 days of being noticed of the adoption

A minor who is the parent of an adoptee is allowed to give consent regarding the adoption of their child as long as the court appoints a guardian ad litem to the minor to represent their best interests in the case.

Costs of an Adoption

It is illegal to pay the parent of an unborn child or the parent of a minor to adopt that child. This is considered a class A misdemeanor and to receive payment for a person's consent to adopt a child is a Class C felony.

The expenses that can be paid by an expectant adopted parent include maternity-connected medical or hospital bills, living expenses of the mother during pregnancy as long as the payments are made in good faith, which do not guarantee the adoption of the child. Any payment of fees, medical expenses, or other legitimate expenses can only be paid with the approval of the court involved in the case.

Page 1: Adoption Laws

DISCLAIMER: While this article concerns adoptions in general, each state has adoption laws that may vary from the specifics stated in this article (i.e., ages and time periods). Please consult with an attorney that practices in your state for specifics.

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