Legal Issues of Independent Adoption
If you are interested in adopting a child, what should you know about adoption laws? In particular, what should you know about the laws affecting independent adoptions, given the extraordinary media attention that contested adoption cases have received in recent years? The Baby Jessica case in Michigan and Iowa, the Baby Richard case in Illinois, and the Baby Pete case in Vermont are three cases of national prominence that shook the confidence of many prospective adoptive parents. These cases all involved birthfathers who took an interest in their children after they had been placed for adoption by their birthmothers, thereby bringing the issue of birthfathers' legal rights to the forefront.
This factsheet examines the issue of birthfathers' legal rights and the changes in adoption laws that are beginning to take place, partially as a result of the three controversial cases. Also, it presents legal issues of agency adoption and compares them with those of independent adoption. In addition, it lists other helpful information available from the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse (NAIC) related to legal issues.
- Birthfather's Legal Rights
- Legal Issues of Agency Adoptions
- General Issues of Independent Adoption
- Legal Issues of Independent Adoption
- How the Clearinghouse Can Help
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The role of birthfathers in adoption proceedings is changing. In the past, birthfathers often did not participate in making adoption plans. Typically, if a man's partner became pregnant and decided on adoption, the child was placed for adoption without his agreement. Now, more men are taking an interest in their nonmarital children. Some want to raise the child, either alone or with their extended family, even if the mother does not want to. Others decide to marry the birthmother and raise the child together. Some men participate fully in the adoption plan, providing complete medical and genetic background information, and enthusiastically take part in a fully disclosed adoption in which they have ongoing contact with the child. Other men do not necessarily >want to raise the child or participate in an open adoption, but they do want to have input on the decisions that affect their child.
This increased role of birthfathers affects both agency and independent adoptions. In light of the cases that have come to national prominence in the last few years, agency social workers and attorneys as well as attorneys arranging independent adoptions are moving more cautiously when dealing with all parties in adoption proceedings.
Putative Father Registries
One outcome of the controversial contested adoptions is the passage of laws to establish putative father registries in some States that did not already have them. A putative father registry is a vehicle by which a biological father (the "presumed" or "reputed" father) of a child can record his interest in the child. The State is then required to notify the father of legal proceedings that bear on the well-being of his child. To our knowledge, 32 States have laws related to putative father registries. (See Appendix I to learn if your State or the State from which you may adopt has a registry.)
Debra Ratterman of the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law in Washington, DC, believes that the New York State putative father legislation is very sound. In her article "Adoption and the Rights of Putative Fathers" published by the Center she states that this legislation has "survived constitutional scrutiny by the U.S. Supreme Court, [and] that it provides clear criteria for identifying and protecting the rights of nonmarital fathers."1
New York has a three-tiered system:
- Fathers whose rights are constitutionally protected because they have had a relationship with and provided support to the child.
- Fathers entitled to receive notice of adoption proceedings because they have registered with the putative father registry (but are not automatically entitled to custody).
- Fathers with no rights because they have done neitherÂ—neither provided support nor registered with the registry.
Ratterman believes all States would do well to model legislation on that of New York because the rights of parents and the rights of children (to an uninterrupted adoption) are spelled out so clearly.
Putative father registries are helping to minimize the risks in both agency and independent adoptions. They are not a panacea, because laws can be poorly written and therefore open to challenges and other interpretations. However, they are one tool that can be used to secure permanent homes for children as quickly as possible.
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Role of Agency Workers
Agency adoptions are legal in all 50 States and the District of Columbia. In agency adoptions, adoptive parents and birthparents are guided every step of the way by a knowledgeable social worker on all of the legal and emotional aspects of an adoption. If the agency workers are doing their jobs correctly, they prepare all parties for everything that will take place. Birthparents are counseled about alternatives to adoption. They are told what their legal rights are and which expenses can legally be met by the adoption agency and which cannot. Prospective adoptive parents are also counseled. The social worker discusses various adoption-related issues, those to be dealt with initially and those that might come up later. By interviewing the prospective adoptive parents at length and visiting in the home, the social worker determines if the prospective adoptive parents meet State licensing requirements for adoptive parents, that is, that they can provide a safe, stable, and healthy environment for a child. One particular issue the social worker discusses is the fee, which is established at the beginning. It can be very reassuring to prospective adoptive parents that the agency fee does not increase if a particular placement does not work out because birthparents who were going to place a child decide to parent instead. For the same fee the agency continues to work with you until an adoption is completed.
In agency adoption, social workers locate the birthparents and mediate any contact between them and the adoptive parents. The agency workers know the adoption laws and have attorneys to advise them. They make sure that the birthparents' parental rights are terminated according to applicable State laws. The social worker also obtains the genetic and health history on a child and the child's birthparents, and can tell you the agency policy regarding disclosure of that information. "Disclosure" in this circumstance refers to providing complete and accurate background information about a child to the person or persons considering adopting that child. The issue of disclosure is the main legal issue in an agency adoption, at the time of placement and throughout the life of the adoptee. (This topic is discussed in another NAIC factsheet, "Providing Background Information to Adoptive Parents.") For example, you may want more information about the birthmother's prenatal care, or in the case of a toddler or preschooler from another country who has been living in an orphanage, more information about the child's health status. Agency workers could tell you that they have done everything they can to obtain that information, and have told you all they know. You must decide whether you feel comfortable with that amount of information. Also, you must consider future access to information. For example, if the birthparents' health status changes and they inform the agency, will the agency inform you? It is a good idea to find out what the agency policy is on this and whether it is within the State disclosure statutes.
Selecting a Reputable Agency
How do you determine if an agency conducts its business reputably and lawfully? (This topic is discussed in another NAIC factsheet, "Adoption Â— Where Do I Start?".) One way is to gather information from several agencies, the State licensing and/or adoption specialist, and a variety of adoptive parents. After comparing and contrasting information from several adoption agencies, you will start to differentiate between the agencies that appeal to you and those that do not, ultimately narrowing your choice to one agency. If the agency or its staff has a fairly long history of placing children, if the State adoption specialist and/or licensing agency has not received many complaints about an agency, and if adoptive parent groups and former clients seem satisfied, chances are you will be satisfied, too.
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Independent adoption is arranged without an agency. Initial contacts are made directly between the pregnant woman and the adoptive parents or by the pregnant woman and an attorney, depending on State law. Independent adoption is legal in all States except Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, and Minnesota. In these States, however, "parties are able to achieve what is, in spirit, an independent adoption: the adoptive parents and birthparents identify each other without intervention by an agency and then arrange for the parental rights to be relinquished through an agency so that the adoption becomes a 'directed agency adoption'."
Locating a Birthmother
To initiate an independent adoption, a prospective adoptive parent must first locate a birthmother interested in relinquishing her child. This can be done in several ways. The thirty-two States that allow adoption advertising are listed in the table on the next page. (See Appendix II for quotations of State laws in regards to advertising.) Ads placed in the classified section of local newspapers have proved to be a successful method for bringing birthparents and adoptive parents together. An adoption attorney can usually advise you on where and how to advertise, or for a fee, you can use a national or regional adoption advertising consultant.
Another way to locate a birthmother is to contact crisis pregnancy centers, obstetricians, school guidance counselors, and friends and colleagues who could lead you to the right person. Typically, you would send them an introductory letter, a photo, and a résumé describing your family life, home, jobs, hobbies, and interests.
States Allowing Adoption Advertising as of 1995 Alaska Indiana New Jersey Tennessee Arizona Iowa New Mexico Texas Arkansas Louisiana New York Utah Colorado Maryland Oregon Vermont Connecticut Mississippi Pennsylvania Virginia District of Columbia Missouri Rhode Island West Virginia Hawaii Montana South Carolina Wisconsin Illinois New Hampshire South Dakota Wyoming
Two positive aspects of independent adoption include the usually shorter time required to locate a child than in agency adoption and the acceptance criteria being those of the birthparents themselves rather than those of agencies, which can sometimes be arbitrary or rigid. The risks, however, are somewhat greater. One fear is the fear of having a birthparent contest the validity of an adoption and suing to regain custody after the adoption has been finalized (the circumstances in the "Baby Richard" case). This possibility has sent some prospective adoptive parents to other countries for their children. They would rather not take a legal risk on a domestic adoption, preferring instead to adopt foreign children who previously lived in an institution, even if they may have fairly serious health, developmental, or learning problems.
A second fear of potential adoptive parents is the birthparents deciding to parent rather than to place their child, within the timeframe allowed by law (see Appendix III). This is different from contesting a finalized adoption. Because adoptive parents may have more interaction with the birth family in an independent adoption than in an agency adoption, they may have made a substantial emotional and financial investment in an adoption that never takes place. Birthparents who considered an agency adoption also may decide to parent their child. Because adoptive parents likely have not had direct contact with the birthparents or the child, their shock may not be as intense. If there has been extensive contact with the birth family and the child, a "fall through," while legal, can be emotionally, not to mention financially, devastating. In addition, if it happens after extended treatment for infertility, with its attendant disappointments and expenses, the intensity of a fall through is doubled.
Attorney-led adoptions do not necessarily prepare adoptive parents or birthparents for the feelings that accompany the adoption process or the lifelong issues associated with it. Some States do not require counseling or adoptive home studies before a child is placed through an independent adoption. Adoptive parents may consider this a positive aspect of the process because they would save on the cost of the home study or the birthparents' counseling. But it can become a negative aspect if they receive conflicting advice from friends or relatives on different questions that come up rather than solid advice from an experienced professional counselor. An adoption attorney knows the legal issues but not necessarily the psychological ones.
The costs for an independent adoption can be unpredictable and depend on what the law allows in your State or the State from which you will be adopting. In some States, adoptive parents are allowed to pay for a birthmother's reasonable living, medical, and legal expenses. All of these together could run into thousands of dollars, particularly if the birthmother does not have health insurance or is not covered by Medicaid and has complications with the pregnancy, labor, or delivery.
One way to minimize the financial risks in an independent adoption is to decide ahead of time how much you think you can afford to spend on an adoption. Consider purchasing adoption insurance.3 Perhaps you will decide only to work with a birthmother who has health insurance or is covered by Medicaid, or to adopt in a State in which adoptive parents are not allowed to pay living expenses.
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How do you handle legal questions that come up in the course of an independent adoption? You need an experienced adoption attorney to answer your questions and address other concerns. You should get recommendations of attorneys from friends, relatives, and adoptive parent support groups and also see if the local Bar Association or the Better Business Bureau has ever received complaints about a specific attorney. The following questions should be asked at your first meeting with the attorney.
- How many adoptions have you been involved in?
- How long have you been working in the adoption field?
- With which types of adoptions do you have experience?
- What are your fees?
- Do you have references from former clients whom I can talk to?
- Do you work with an experienced adoption counselor, or can you recommend one to guide us and the birthparents through the psychological aspects of this process?
You also might want to discuss some of the following concerns with the attorney.
Does the attorney think that birthparents should have counseling before the birth and placement of the child, and that it is okay for adoptive parents to cover this expense? Even if counseling for birthparents is not required in your State, we recommend that you suggest it and offer to pay for it. In most of the contested controversial cases, preplacement counseling did not occur.
This is an important issue. The discussion should include the frequency of contact, the kind of contact (for example, face-to-face, correspondence, or telephone), limits surrounding that contact, and access to medical information that may only become known in the future.
Separate Legal Representation for the Birthparents
Even if it is not required in your State, we recommend that separate legal representation be provided to the birthparents, not representation by your attorney. If the birthmother and birthfather are no longer together as a couple, they can each have an attorney to represent their best interests. Although this may cost more, it is the ethical thing to do and may prevent much heartache farther along in the adoption process. If an attorney recommends otherwise, you may want to reconsider using that attorney.
Benefits of a Putative Father Registry
You may decide to adopt only in a State that has a putative father registry. Otherwise, if the birthfather is not actively participating in the adoption plan, is unidentified, and is not willing to take a paternity test or if the birthmother is not able or willing to name a birthfather, you and your attorney will have to evaluate such circumstances very carefully. These are the kinds of situations that involve the most risk.
Overall, less than 1 percent of adoptions are contested. Thousands of adoptions are completed successfully every year. Headlines notwithstanding, with good adoption practice you can minimize the risks of a contested independent adoption.
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NAIC has other information available related to legal issues in adoption. The two factsheets mentioned earlier, "Providing Background Information to Adoptive Parents" and "AdoptionÂ—Where Do I Start?," are available at no charge for a single copy. The box below lists other information that we can provide.
In the United States today, agency and independent adoption are two paths to adoption. Agency adoptions are legal in all States, and independent adoptions are legal in all but four States. The experiences of friends, acquaintances, and other adoptive parents whom you meet in adoptive parent support groups will help you in your adoption planning, including selecting ethical, experienced agencies and attorneys. Whether you decide on agency or independent adoption, it is important to be familiar with State adoption laws.
Ultimately it will be your own attitudes, values, and beliefs that will determine your path to adoption. This makes sense because after all, these are the same attitudes, values, and beliefs that will guide you in facing any other child-rearing or adoption- related challenges ahead.
Written by Debra G. Smith, ACSW, Director of the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse, 1996.
- Debra Ratterman. "Adoption and the Rights of Putative Fathers," American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law, Washington, DC, 1993, p. 1.
- Mark T. McDermott. Future of Children, Adoption, "Agency Versus Independent Adoption: The Case for Independent Adoption," v3 n1, Spring 1993, p. 146.
- One adoption insurance provider we have heard about is Jardine Insurance Brokers, 152 N. Third St., Ste. 800, San Jose, CA 95112-5581, (408) 288-8000 or (800) 827-7879. NAIC does not necessarily recommend this provider; we are simply passing on the information.
Adamec, Christine. There ARE Babies to Adopt. New York: Kensington, 1996.
Beauvais-Godwin, Laura and Godwin, Raymond. The Independent Adoption Manual, From Beginning to Baby. Lakewood, NJ: The Advocate Press, 1993.
Bussiere, Alice. "'Baby Jessica' Case Highlights Old Conflict: Parents' Rights vs. Permanence for Children," Youth Law News, v14 n4, Jul/Aug 1993, pp. 14Â–17.
Hales, Dianne. "What About the Best Interests of the Child?," Parade, Jan 22, 1995, pp. 20Â–21.
Horowitz, Robert. Adoption Laws: Answers to the Most-Asked Questions. Rockville, MD: National Adoption Information Clearinghouse, 1995.
Hull, Jon D. "The Ties That Traumatize, A Bitter Custody Battle Over Baby Jessica Sets Adoptive Parents Everywhere on Edge," Time, Apr 12, 1993, p. 48.
Ingrassia, Michele and Springen, Karen. "A Bitter New Battle in the Custody Wars," Newsweek, Jul 11, 1994, p. 59.
Kroll, Joe. "Who Speaks for the Children?," Adoptalk, Sum 1993, pp. 1Â–2.
McDermott, Mark T. "Agency Versus Independent Adoption: The Case for Independent Adoption," The Future of Children, Adoption, v3 n1, Spr 1993, pp. 146Â–152.
Ratterman, Debra. "Adoption and the Rights of Putative Fathers." Washington, DC: American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law, 1993.
Sifferman, Kelly. The Layman's Law Guide to Adoption. Second Edition. Hawthorne, NJ: Career Press, 1994.
Stark, Al. "Whose Child Is This?," Detroit News, Jan 5, 1993, Accent Section, p. 1.
Taylor, Linda. "Is International Adoption Overtaking U.S. Adoption?," Adoption Advocates NEWSletter, vIII n10, Oct 1995, pp. 1Â–3.
Disclaimer: The information in these appendices is taken from the NAIC publication Adoption Laws: Answers to the Most-Asked Questions, 1995, compiled by Robert Horowitz of the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law in Washington, DC. NAIC publishes this as a service to the adoption community, but it can never serve as a replacement for legal advice from a licensed attorney practicing in the field of adoption in the State(s) where both the potential adoptive parent(s) and the child(ren) to be adopted reside. We also cannot guarantee accuracy; changes in State law may have occurred since the research was conducted.
APPENDIX I: PUTATIVE FATHER REGISTRIES
Alabama There is no information about a putative father registry; however, putative fathers must be notified about adoption proceedings.
Arizona A person who is or claims to be the father shall file his claim of paternity and his willingness and intent to support the child to the best of his ability with the state registrar of vital statistics in the Department of Health Services. The claim must be made before the birth of the child or within 30 days after the birth. The registry is confidential and information on claims of paternity for a given child will only be provided in response to a written request. If the biological mother denies that the putative father claiming paternity is actually the father, the father must establish paternity.
Arkansas In cases involving a child born to an unwed mother, a search must be made of potential fathers in the putative father registry. If someone has filed a claim of paternity, he must receive notice of the pending adoption. After notification, the putative father has a given time, set by the State, to claim an interest in the child.
California There is no information about a putative father registry; however, putative fathers must be notified about adoption proceedings.
Connecticut Someone who has claimed to be or has been identified as the biological father through one of the ways provided by the statute must be notified of the adoption proceedings. He must then assert his interest in the child or have his rights terminated.
Florida There is no information about a putative father registry; however, putative fathers must be notified about adoption proceedings.
Georgia A putative father registry went into effect in 1987. There is no filing deadline after the birth of the child.
Hawaii There is no information about a putative father registry; however, putative fathers must be notified about adoption proceedings.
Idaho A putative father registry went into effect in 1985. A claim of paternity must be filed before proceedings to terminate parental rights or to place the child with an adoption agency.
Illinois The Department of Children and Family Services has established a putative father registry to determine the identity and location of a putative father in order to provide him with notice of an adoption proceeding. A putative father may register with the department before the birth of the child or within 30 days after the birth. The putative father loses his right to assert an interest in the child unless he proves by clear and convincing evidence that it was impossible for him to register within the time allotted through no fault of his own and that he registered within 10 days of it becoming possible.
Indiana A man who is not identified by the mother must register before birth, within 30 days of the birth, or on the date the adoption petition is filed to be entitled to notice of the child's adoption. After receiving actual notice, a putative father's consent is irrevocably implied without further court action if he fails to file a paternity action within 30 days of receiving notice or files a paternity action but fails to establish paternity within a reasonable period of time.
Iowa A putative father registry went into effect in 1994. A claim of paternity must be filed before proceedings to terminate parental rights.
Kansas The court shall make efforts to identify who the father is by looking at a number of factors, such as blood tests and whether he provides child support or was married to the mother at the time of conception.
Louisiana A man may register acknowledgment or legitimation or paternity or a judgment declaring paternity with the registry. Filing with the registry entitles the man to parental rights and renders his consent necessary for adoption, except in cases listed in the statute under "Consent is Not Required."
Maine If after the putative father has been given notice of the adoption he wants to establish parental rights to the child, he has 20 days to petition the court to do so. The judge will conduct a hearing to determine whether to grant the putative father parental rights or not, based on his ability and willingness to provide for the child.
Massachusetts Notice must be sent to any man who has filed with the Department of Social Services a declaration seeking to assert parental rights or has been adjudicated to be the father, unless consent is not required as indicated under the general consent provision. The father may then petition for adoption or custody and will be considered based on the best interests of the child. The original declaration must be filed prior to final surrender of the child or termination of parental rights has occurred.
Michigan There is no information about a putative father registry; however, putative fathers must be notified about adoption proceedings.
Minnesota There is no information about a putative father registry; however, putative fathers must be notified about adoption proceedings.
Missouri A putative father registry went into effect in 1988. There is no filing deadline after the birth of the child.
Nebraska If the child is born out of wedlock, the rights of the father shall not be recognized unless within 5 days after the birth he files a notice to claim paternity. If he requests custody of the child, then the court shall determine if he can properly care for the child and whether it would be in the child's best interest.
New Hampshire Any of the following persons have a right to a hearing to prove paternity, if requested within 30 days after the date of notice of consent to adoption:
- A person named by the natural mother
- A person who claims to be the father and who has filed notice with the Office of Child Support Enforcement
- A person who is living with the child or the child's mother and is providing support to the mother or child.
New Jersey There is no information about a putative father registry; however, putative fathers must be notified about adoption proceedings.
New Mexico A putative father registry went into effect in 1993. There is no filing deadline after the birth of the child.
New York Unwed fathers who have maintained substantial and continuous or repeated contact with the child have the same rights as unmarried mothers with respect to their children, and must execute a voluntary surrender or have their parental rights terminated before the child can be adopted. New York sets different standards for evaluating whether an unwed father has a "substantial relationship" based on the age of the child.
Putative fathers who do not meet the statutory criteria that would require their consent to adoption may still qualify to be "notice fathers" under New York law. Special notice provisions give these fathers due process rights with respect to voluntary surrenders and termination of parental rights involving their nonmarital children. These provisions do not include men convicted of first degree rape when the child who is the subject of the termination was conceived as the result of the rape. Those fathers entitled to notice include:
- Any person adjudicated to be the father of the child by a New York court
- Any person adjudicated to be the father of the child by another State court when a certified copy of the order has been filed with the New York putative father registry
- Any person who has filed a timely and unrevoked notice of intent to claim paternity
- Any person who is recorded on the child's birth certificate as the child's father
- Any person who is openly living with the child and the child's mother at the time the proceeding is initiated or at the time the child was placed in the care of an authorized agency and who is holding himself out to be the child's father
- Any person who has been identified as the child's father by the mother in a written, sworn statement
- Any person who was married to the child's mother within 6 months subsequent to the birth of the child and prior to the execution of a surrender or the initiation of a termination proceeding
- Any person who has filed an instrument with the putative father registry acknowledging paternity of the child (the putative father registry allows the father to file an acknowledgment of paternity with the State so that he will receive notice of any legal proceedings involving the child).
Fathers who have not made efforts to establish a relationship with a nomarital child do not have a right to be included in a court decision to approve a mother's surrender, to terminate the mother's rights, or to approve the adoption of the child.
North Dakota There is no information about a putative father registry; however, putative fathers must be notified about adoption proceedings.
Oklahoma Consent to the adoption of a child is not required of a father or putative father if he knows of the child's birth and fails to acknowledge paternity or to take action to establish paternity or to exercise parental rights or duties over the child, including failure to contribute to support of the mother during pregnancy.
Pennsylvania A putative father may execute a consent to adoption at any time after receiving notice of the expected or actual birth of the child. If a putative father fails to file acknowledgment of paternity, appear at the adoption hearing, or file an objection, the court may enter a decree terminating rights.
Rhode Island There is no information about a putative father registry; however, putative fathers must be notified about adoption proceedings.
South Dakota There is no information about a putative father registry; however, putative fathers must be notified about adoption proceedings.
Tennessee Effective January 1996 the Department of Human Services shall establish a putative father registry. Those persons contained on the registry shall be given notice by the petitioners of proceedings for the adoption of a child or for the termination of parental rights involving a child.
Utah In 1995, the State enacted a comprehensive scheme regarding unmarried fathers' rights with respect to an adoption. The legislative intent is to encourage finality in adoption and place a burden on unmarried fathers to affirmatively take steps to demonstrate parenthood. Furthermore, except in limited circumstances, an unmarried father is presumed to know of the child's birth if he had sex with the mother. An unmarried father's consent is only required when:
- For a child placed with adoptive parents more than 6 months after birth, the unmarried father has developed a substantial relationship with the child, taken some measure of responsibility for the child and his future, and demonstrated a full commitment of the responsibilities of parenthood.
- For a child placed when under 6 months of age, the unmarried father manifested parenthood prior to the mother's relinquishment or consent to adoption, including initiating a paternity proceeding, filing notice of said proceeding with the registrar of vital statistics in a confidential registry established for this purpose, and if he had actual knowledge of pregnancy, paid for a reasonable amount of expenses.
Wyoming The putative father may object to the adoption and must appear at the hearing to acknowledge his paternity. The court shall determine whether his claim of paternity is established, he has shown an interest and responsibility for the child within 30 days after receiving notice of the child's birth, his objections to the adoption are valid, and it will be in the best interest of the child to grant the putative father's claim of paternity.
The putative father has no right to assert paternity unless his is known and identified by the mother or agency, or unless he lived with or married the mother after the birth of the child prior to the petition to adopt is filed or unless he has acknowledged the child as his own by asserting paternity or registering with the putative father registry.
The Department of Family Services shall establish a putative father registry that shall record the names and addresses of:
- Any person adjudicated by the court to be the father of a child born out-of-wedlock
- Any person who has filed with the registry before or after the birth of a child, a notice of intent to claim paternity of the child
- Any person who has filed with the registry an instrument acknowledging paternity.
APPENDIX II: ADVERTISEMENTS
Alabama Only a person, organization, agency, corporation, association, or partnership that is licensed by the Department of Human Resources may verbally or through print, electronic media, or otherwise advertise that they will adopt or assist in an adoption, place or assist in placement, or offer any form of payment to parents related to their child.
California It is illegal for any unlicensed person to advertise that he or she may accept, provide, or place a child for adoption, or actually partake in these activities (other than a parent placing his child for adoption). No one may advertise a request for children to be adopted.
Colorado Any birthparent or prospective adoptive parent may advertise through any public media within the State for the placement of a child.
Connecticut Any birthparent or prospective adoptive parent may advertise through any public media within the State for the placement of a child for the purposes of identified adoption (an adoption arranged by the prospective adoptive parents).
Delaware Only the Department of Services to Children, Youth and Families and licensed agencies may advertise regarding the availability of adoption services or for the placement of a child.
Florida Only the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, a licensed agency, or a licensed intermediary may advertise that a child is available or sought for adoption. Further, it is unlawful for any person to publish such an advertisement without including the Florida license number of the agency, attorney, or physician placing the advertisement.
Georgia Only a child-placing agency licensed by the department may advertise that it will adopt children or arrange for children to be adopted. Furthermore, only these agencies may provide financial assistance (beyond that which is medically related to the pregnancy or birth) to a parent giving up a child.
Idaho No person or entity, other than an authorized agent or employee of the Department of Health and Welfare or an authorized agency licensed by the Department may advertise for the availability of adoption of a child offered or wanted for adoption.
Kansas No person or agency except a licensed child-placement agency and the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services shall advertise that they will adopt a child, find an adoptive home for a child, or place a child for adoption.
Kentucky A person, corporation, or association shall not advertise in any manner that it will receive children for the purpose of adoption. A newspaper or other publication published in Kentucky shall not contain any advertisements soliciting children for adoption.
Maine Only licensed child-placing agencies may advertise for adoption services or solicit adoptions and only in accordance with the rules adopted by the Department.
Massachusetts Only a duly authorized agent or employee of the Department of Social Services or a licensed child care or placement agency may publish any advertisements regarding children offered or wanted for adoption-related services or to place a child for adoption.
Nebraska No person, other than a parent or person licensed by the Department of Social Services, shall advertise a child for placement.
Nevada The Division of Child and Family Services of the Department of Human Resources or a licensed child- placing agency may publish in any Nevada newspaper or television broadcast a photograph and personal information concerning a hard- to-place child.
A child-placing agency shall not publish any identifying or personal information or a photo without prior approval of the agency having custody of the child. Any other person, other than the Division, without holding a valid unrevoked license to place children for adoption may not advertise that he will place children for adoption.
Any individual, other than the Department or licensed agency, that advertises in any medium that he will place a child for adoption is guilty of a misdemeanor.
North Carolina No person, agency, association, corporation, society, or other organization, except a licensed child-placing agency, a county Department of Social Services, or the Department of Human Resources, shall publish, transmit, broadcast, or otherwise distribute any advertisement of any type whatsoever which solicits the receiving or placing of children for adoption or which solicits the custody of children.
North Dakota No facility, unless specifically licensed to do so, may advertise children for adoption.
Ohio No person or entity that has not been certified by the Division of Social Administration for the placement of children for adoption may advertise that they will adopt children.
Oklahoma It is a crime to advertise to place a child for adoption as an inducement to any woman to enter an institution or home or any other place for maternity care or for the delivery of a child.
Washington No person or entity other than a duly authorized agent of the Department or a licensed child- placing agency shall advertise a child offered or wanted for adoption or hold himself/herself out as having the ability to place, locate, dispose, or receive a child for adoption.
APPENDIX III: CONSENT AND REVOCATION PERIODS
Alabama Consent may take place at any time, except that once signed it may be withdrawn in writing 5 days after the child's birth or within 5 days of signing the consent. Consent may be withdrawn if the court finds that it is in the child's best interest within 14 days after the child's birth or after the signing of the consent. Consent can also be withdrawn within 1 year if it was obtained by fraud, duress, mistake, or undue influence.
Alaska Consent may be signed any time after the birth of the child. It may be withdrawn in writing before the entry of decree and within 10 days after consent is given, or after 10 days if the court finds it to be in the child's best interest.
Arizona Consent must occur 72 or more hours after birth of the child. Consent is irrevocable unless it was obtained by fraud, duress, or undue influence.
Arkansas Consent may be signed any time after birth. It may be withdrawn any time before the entry of decree of adoption, but within 10 calendar days of the consent being given or after the child was born, whichever is later.
California Consent may be signed any time after birth. It may not be revoked after 90 days.
Colorado There are no provisions in the law regarding how consent can be withdrawn or when consent must take place.
Connecticut Consent must be signed at least 2 days after birth.
District of Columbia There are no provisions on when consent must occur or whether it can be withdrawn.
Delaware Consent may be signed any time after birth. If a person or agency wishes to withdraw consent, they must file a request to the court asking that consent be revoked within 60 days after filing adoption petition. The court will give the request to the authorized agency, and that agency will make a report to the court within 30 days. The court will then rule upon the request.
Florida A "good-faith and diligent" effort must be made to obtain the consent within 60 days after filing the petition. It is irrevocable unless the court finds fraud.
Georgia A biological parent who has consented to the adoption may withdraw consent within 10 days of signing consent.
Hawaii Consent cannot be withdrawn except by court approval, based on a finding that it would be in the best interests of the child.
Idaho There are no provisions on when consent must be signed or whether it may be withdrawn.
Illinois Consent must take place 72 hours or more after birth of the child. Consent of the father may be signed before the birth of the child. The consent is irrevocable after 72 hours of signing unless it was obtained by fraud. No action to revoke consent can take place after 12 months from the date of signing the consent.
Indiana Consent may be signed any time after birth. It may not be withdrawn after the entry of decree. Prior to the entry of decree, it may be withdrawn if the court finds it to be in the child's best interests.
Iowa Consent must be signed at least 4 days after birth. It may be withdrawn before the entry of decree.
Kansas Consent given and acknowledged before a judge is irrevocable. Consent not yet acknowledged may only be revoked if, prior to the final adoption decree, the consenting party proves that the consent was not freely and voluntarily given. Consent given less than 12 hours after the birth, however, may be revoked prior to the final decree without a showing of involuntariness.
Kentucky Consent must be signed at least 5 days after birth. There are no provisions on withdrawal.
Louisiana Consent must be signed at least 5 days after birth. It may be withdrawn only if it was obtained by fraud. Action must be brought forth within 6 months of the finding of fraud.
Maine Father is given 20 days after the notice of mother's intent to relinquish rights. The consent may be withdrawn if it is found not to be in the child's best interests.
Maryland There are no provisions on when consent must be signed. Consent may be withdrawn within 30 days of signing, or any time before a final decree of adoption is entered, whichever is first.
Massachusetts Consent must be signed at least 4 days after birth.
Minnesota Consent must be signed 4 days after birth. It may be withdrawn within 10 working days of being signed.
Mississippi Consent must be signed at least 3 days after birth.
Missouri Written consent may be given any time before or after the adoption proceedings, but the adoption will only be permitted when the child is 2 days old.
Montana Consent may be signed any time after birth. It may not be withdrawn after the final decree has been entered.
Nevada Consent cannot occur until 72 hours after the child's birth. A consent may be given by the father before the child is born if he is not married to the mother. Consent cannot be revoked.
New Hampshire Consent cannot occur until at least 72 hours after the child's birth. Consent may not be withdrawn after the final decree of adoption has been entered unless it was obtained by fraud or duress.
New Jersey Consent is not valid until 72 hours after birth.
New Mexico Consent cannot take place until
at least 48 hours after birth. Consent cannot be withdrawn prior to entry of adoption unless the court finds that consent was obtained by fraud.
New York Once a judge has acknowledged consent to the adoption, it is irrevocable. The court must advise the parents of their right to counsel and supportive counseling. If the consent has not been executed before a judge, it may be revoked within 45 days after its execution.
North Carolina Consent is irrevocable after the final decree or after 30 days of signing.
Ohio Consent may be given after 72 hours. It may be withdrawn only before the entry of the final decree and if the court finds it to be in the child's best interests.
Oregon Must file Certificate of Irrevocability with the court. Consent cannot be withdrawn unless it was obtained by fraud.
Pennsylvania Consent must be signed 72 hours after birth. It may be withdrawn any time before the decree of terminating the parental rights.
Rhode Island Consent must be signed 15 days after birth.
South Carolina Consent may be signed any time after birth. Withdrawal of the consent is not permitted unless it is found to be in the child's best interests or if the consent was not given voluntarily or obtained by fraud. Final entry of all consents are irrevocable.
South Dakota Consent must be signed at least 4 days after birth.
Tennessee Consent may be signed any time after birth. It is irrevocable after the final entry of adoption decree. Biological parent has 15 days to withdraw consent if a petition for adoption has not been filed.
Texas Consent may be withdrawn before the entry of final decree.
Utah Consent must be signed at least 24 hours after birth. It is irrevocable.
Vermont Consent may be signed any time after birth.
Virginia Consent may be signed 10 days after birth. There is a 15-day revocation period from the time of signing the consent.
Washington Consent may be given 48 hours after the birth. It may be withdrawn any time before the adoption is approved by the court or within 1 year if the court finds fraud.
West Virginia If the consent was given within 72 hours of the birth, the biological parent has 10 days to withdraw.
Wisconsin Consent may be withdrawn within 40 days of signing consent.
Wyoming Consent may be signed any time after birth. It is irrevocable unless it was obtained by fraud.
This material may be reproduced and distributed without permission; however, appropriate citation must be given to the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse.
Updated August 5, 1998