How Much Can Adoption Laws Affect my Child?

Adoption is a wonderful, exhilarating time in your life. Becoming familiar with your state’s adoption laws can help relieve heartache and disappointment down the road. For a full list of adoption laws by state click here.  

If you are adopting from a state other than the one you live in, it’s important to be familiar with adoption laws of that state. Each state has different waiting periods – time allowed for birth mothers to change their minds – which may mean you will need to remain near for a length of time. This will affect your family in that you may have to make provisions to live/stay in a different state for a matter of days, weeks, or months.  

In our first adoption, the father registry was of utmost importance and ended up causing a delay in our son’s adoption. While our son’s bio mother and father both signed away their rights pre-adoption (allowed in the state we were in at the time) his legal father did not. Our son was conceived while his birth mom was married to a man she was legally separated from and was deployed. Because of divorce laws in that state, she couldn’t divorce him while he was deployed, our son was conceived, and he now had two fathers. This could have become a larger issue for us if he had a true interest in this child. Fortunately, he was only interested in dodging child support for the child he did father and was just trying to make our birth mom’s life hard.

As I stated earlier, in some states it is legal for birth parents to sign the consent to adopt, relinquishment of their rights, before the birth of the child. At that point, the waiting period will begin the moment the child is born. In other states, there is a time period that must be waited for after the birth of the child, and the time to change their mind does not begin until the papers are signed. You’ll want to be familiar with the laws of your state so that you know what to expect. If you are adopting from another state, the law may be different than your own, and you’ll need to follow the law of the state that the child is born in.  

When our son was two years old we were contacted by a friend to adopt her son. Since we were in different states it was necessary for us to retain an attorney in our state and the state that the child was born in. We studied the laws of relinquishment, which in that state was 48 hours after the birth of the child. Then after she signed relinquishment papers the birth mother would have 3 days to change her mind. When 3 days had passed it would have been necessary for us to petition the court for the right to leave the state with our infant son.     

While adoption laws can be confusing and frustrating, it’s important to remember that they’re put into place to protect everyone in the adoption triad. If you’re working with an agency, they will handle most of the legal aspects with you, but it’s still vitally important to know the laws and what to expect. Sometimes agencies don’t or forget to communicate, what can be key pieces of information. There are plenty of books, websites, resources for finding adoption laws by state. Be certain that you are reading updated information.  

Being prepared with facts and answers can only make your adoption that much more successful. If you’re prepared and know the laws you’ll have a much better idea of what to expect as you move forward in the process.