Adoption Laws Vary By State

Adoption can be complicated both emotionally and legally.

At Heart to Heart, we accept these complications and work hard to help you navigate both the emotional and legal components of this journey.

No two adoptions are the same, but our staff is trained and experienced with the different state adoption laws. Early in your adoption process, you will want to know what laws will govern the adoption. Will your adoption proceed under the laws of the state in which you live or in the state where the prospective adoptive parents live.

Generally, a birth parent has the right to proceed under the laws of her own state. As a birth parent, however, you can waive those rights. We often have birth parents choose to waive their own state law because there are procedures and protections where the prospective parents live, which are preferable. Some birth mothers prefer states where they are allowed to sign an out-of-court consent rather than going to court to consent. Some states allow for the payment of living expenses.

We can explain state law to you, giving you the options which will make you feel the most comfortable.

Below are some resources which you might find helpful if you have questions about legal differences between states.

Consent to Adoption

Presents an overview of state laws regarding the proper execution of consent when a child is placed for adoption. Consent refers to the agreement by a parent, or a person or agency acting in place of a parent, to relinquish a child for adoption and release all rights and duties with respect to that child. The topics covered include the persons who must consent to a child’s adoption, the child’s consent to his or her adoption, timeframes for consent, and guidelines for revocation of consent. Summaries of laws for all states and U.S. territories are included.

In all states, the birth mother and a birth father who has properly established paternity hold the primary right to consent to a minor child’s adoption.

Who May Adopt, Be Adopted, or Place a Child for Adoption?

Summarizes state laws regarding eligibility for becoming an adoptive parent (in terms of marital status, age, residency, and more), eligibility for being adopted as a child or adult, and authority to place a child for adoption.

The Rights of Unmarried Fathers

Provides an overview of State laws related to the rights of unmarried fathers and the methods by which a man may establish a legal parent-child relationship with his child. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the constitutional protection of an unmarried father’s parental rights when he has established a substantial relationship with his child. The circumstances in which a man may be presumed to be the father of a child, the use of putative fathers’ registries, the use of genetic tests to establish parentage, and the right of rescission of paternity claims also are discussed.

Regulation of Private Domestic Adoption Expenses

Provides an overview of State laws regarding the regulation of the fees and expenses that adoptive parents are expected to pay when arranging a private adoptive placement. Some of the fees and expenses that are typically addressed include placement costs, such as agency fees; legal fees and attorney expenses for adoptive and birth parents; and some of the expenses of the birth mother during pregnancy. Requirements for reporting adoption-related expenses to the court also are addressed. Summaries of laws for all States and U.S. territories are included.

Home Study Requirements for Prospective Parents in Domestic Adoption

Summarizes State laws and policies for approving prospective adoptive homes. The publication describes who must be included in the home study, qualifications for adoptive parents, elements of the home study process, exceptions for stepparent or relative placements, postplacement assessments of the child’s adjustment to the adoptive family, requirements for placements across State lines, and more.

This website allows you to search the database to access the statues for a specific state.

State Statues Search

If you have any questions, please, contact us at Heart to Heart.