Adoption in Alabama
In an adoption the rights and responsibilities of the child's biological parents are completely and finally terminated, and the child is treated legally just as if she were the biological child of the adoptive parents. The probate court has jurisdiction over adoptions. Any adult is legally eligible to adopt any minor child, but if the child is 14 years or older, she must consent to the adoption.
There must be a pre-placement investigation of the prospective adoptive parents before the child can be placed with them.
The child must live with the prospective adoptive parents for 60 days before the adoption can be finalized. Once it is finalized, the child takes the name of the adoptive parents, and a new birth certificate will be issued.
Consenting to Adoption in Alabama
For an agreed adoption, the consent of both the mother and presumed father must be obtained. That doesn't necessarily require them to sign off on the documents, however. The consent of a parent can be implied by his or her actions. If a parent fails to offer any contact or support to the child for a six month period before birth or after birth, then the court may presume that consent is given. Similarly, if a parent fails to respond to the notification of adoption within 30 days, he or she is deemed to have consented. If a parent changes his or her mind, there is a 5-day period after the child's birth or after consent is finalized, whichever comes later, in which the parent can withdraw consent.
Stepparent Adoption in Alabama
The process is a bit more streamlined for stepparents. The requirement of a pre-placement investigation is waived, as are some of the requirements for reporting to the court. However, the child must have lived with the stepparent for at least a year before the adoption can occur.
Contested Adoption in Alabama
If one or both of the natural parents do not agree to the adoption, the matter is set for a hearing. It may be heard by the probate court or, if either party requests it, before the juvenile court.
Alabama Adoption Attorneys
It's our commitment to assist our clients in making the adoption process as quick and easy as possible, and to provide top-quality services at an affordable cost. From filing the paperwork to representing you in the required hearings, we'll be there every step of the way. Contact us today for a free consultation.
FAQ's and Relevant Alabama Adoption Law Code Sections
Where can I file adoption paperwork?
All petitions may be filed in the probate court in the county in which: (1) The minor or adult resides or has a legal residence; (2) A petitioner resides, or is in military service; or (3) An office of any agency or institution operating under the laws of this state having guardianship or custody of a minor or an adult is located. - See more here.
Who may adopt?
(a) Any adult person or husband and wife jointly who are adults may petition the court to adopt a minor. (1) No rule or regulation of the Department of Human Resources shall prevent an adoption by a person solely because the person is employed outside the home, provided however, the Department of Human Resources may exercise sound discretion in requiring the person to remain in the home with a minor for a reasonable period of time when a particular minor requires the presence of that person to ensure his or her adjustment. Provided, however, the reasonable period of time shall not exceed 60 consecutive calendar days. (2) No rule or regulation of the Department of Human Resources or any agency shall prevent an adoption by a single person solely because such person is single or shall prevent an adoption solely because such person is of a certain age. (3) Provided however, in cases, where one who purports to be the biological father marries the biological mother, on petition of the parties, the court shall order paternity tests to determine the true biological father. If the court determines by substantial evidence that the biological father is the man married to the biological mother, then the biological father shall be allowed to adopt the child without the consent of the man who was married to the biological mother at the time of the conception or birth of the child, or both, when the court finds the adoption to be in the best interest of the child. (b) Any adult may petition the court to adopt another adult as provided in this chapter. - See more here.
Who May Be Adopted?
The following persons may be adopted: (1) A minor. (2) An adult under any one of the following conditions: a. He or she is totally and permanently disabled. b. He or she is determined to be mentally retarded. c. He or she consents in writing to be adopted and is related in any degree of kinship, as defined by the intestacy laws of Alabama, or is a stepchild by marriage. d. He or she consents in writing to be adopted by an adult man and woman who are husband and wife. - See more here.
Who Must Consent to the Adoption?
(a) Consent to the petitioner's adoption or relinquishment for adoption to the Department of Human Resources or a licensed child placing agency shall be required of the following: (1) The adoptee, if 14 years of age or older, except where the court finds that the adoptee does not have the mental capacity to give consent; (2) The adoptee's mother; (3) The adoptee's presumed father, regardless of paternity, if: a. He and the adoptee's mother are or have been married to each other and the adoptee was born during the marriage, or within 300 days after the marriage was terminated by death, annulment, declaration of invalidity, or divorce, or after a decree of separation was entered by a court; or b. Before the adoptee's birth, he and the adoptee's mother have attempted to marry each other by a marriage solemnized in apparent compliance with law, although the attempted marriage is or could be declared invalid, and, 1. If the attempted marriage could be declared invalid only by a court, the adoptee was born during the attempted marriage, or within 300 days after its termination by death, annulment, declaration or invalidity, or divorce; or 2. If the attempted marriage is invalid without a court order, the adoptee was born within 300 days after the termination of cohabitation; or c. After the adoptee's birth, he and the adoptee's mother have married, or attempted to marry each other by a marriage solemnized in apparent compliance with law, although the attempted marriage is or could be declared invalid, and 1. With his knowledge or consent, he was named as the adoptee's father on the adoptee's birth certificate; or 2. He is obligated to support the adoptee pursuant to a written voluntary promise or agreement or by court order; or d. He received the adoptee into his home and openly held out the adoptee as his own child; (4) The agency to which the adoptee has been relinquished or which holds permanent custody and which has placed the adoptee for adoption, except that the court may grant the adoption without the consent of the agency if the adoption is in the best interests of the adoptee and there is a finding that the agency has unreasonably withheld its consent; and (5) The putative father if made known by the mother or is otherwise made known to the court provided he complies with Section 26-10C-1 and he responds within 30 days to the notice he receives under Section 26-10A-17(a)(10). (b) A petition to adopt an adult may be granted only if written consent to adopt has been executed by the adult seeking to adopt and his or her spouse or by the guardian or conservator of the adult sought to be adopted pursuant to the requirements of Sections 26-10A-6 and 26-10A-11. - See more here.
Can Consent to Adoption be Implied by Conduct?
(a) A consent or relinquishment required by Section 26-10A-7 may be implied by any of the following acts of a parent: (1) Abandonment of the adoptee. Abandonment includes, but is not limited to, the failure of the father, with reasonable knowledge of the pregnancy, to offer financial and/or emotional support for a period of six months prior to the birth. (2) Leaving the adoptee without provision for his or her identification for a period of 30 days. (3) Knowingly leaving the adoptee with others without provision for support and without communication, or not otherwise maintaining a significant parental relationship with the adoptee for a period of six months. (4) Receiving notification of the pendency of the adoption proceedings under Section 26-10A-17 and failing to answer or otherwise respond to the petition within 30 days. (5) Failing to comply with Section 26-10C-1. (b) Implied consent under subsection (a) may not be withdrawn by any person. - See more here.
What other circumstances can cause consent not to be required?
Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 26-10A-7, the consent or relinquishment of the following persons shall not be required for an adoption: (1) A parent whose rights with reference to the adoptee have been terminated by operation of law in accordance with the Alabama Child Protection Act, Sections 26-18-1 through 26-18-10; (2) A parent who has been adjudged incompetent pursuant to law or a parent whom the court finds to be mentally incapable of consenting or relinquishing and whose mental disability is likely to continue for so long a period that it would be detrimental to the adoptee to delay adoption until restoration of the parent's competency or capacity. The court must appoint independent counsel or a guardian ad litem for an incompetent parent for whom there has been no such prior appointment; (3) A parent who has relinquished his or her minor child to the department of human resources or a licensed child placing agency for an adoption; (4) A deceased parent or one who is presumed to be deceased under Alabama law; (5) An alleged father who has signed a written statement denying paternity; or (6) The natural father where the natural mother indicates the natural father is unknown, unless the natural father is otherwise made known to the court. - See more here.
What must be included in a voluntary consent to adoption?
(a) A consent or relinquishment shall be in writing, signed by the person consenting or relinquishing, and shall state the following: (1) The date, place, and time of execution. (2) The date of birth or if prior to birth expected date of birth of the adoptee and any names by which the adoptee has been known. (3) The relationship of the person consenting or relinquishing to the adoptee. (4) The name of each petitioner, unless (i) the document is relinquishment of the adoptee to an agency, or (ii) the consent contains a statement that the person executing the consent knows that he or she has a right to know the identity of each petitioner but voluntarily waives this right. (5) That the person executing the document is voluntarily and unequivocally consenting to the adoption of the named adoptee. (6) That by signing the document and subsequent court order to ratify the consent, the person executing the document understands that he or she will forfeit all rights and obligations; that he or she understands the consent or relinquishment and executes it freely and voluntarily. (7) That the person executing the document understands that the consent may be irrevocable, and should not execute it if he or she needs or desires psychological or legal advice, guidance, or counseling. (8) The address of the court in which the petition for adoption has been or will be filed, if known, and if not known, the name and address of the agency, the petitioners or their attorney on whom notice of the withdrawal of consent may be served. (9) In the case of relinquishment, the name and address of the agency to which the adoptee has been relinquished. (10) That the person executing the same has received or been offered a copy of the consent or relinquishment. (11) That the person executing a relinquishment waives further notice of the adoption proceeding. (12) That the person executing a consent waives further notice of the adoption proceedings, unless there is a contest or appeal of the adoption proceeding. (b) When the person sought to be adopted is an adult, only the sworn, written consent of the adult person sought to be adopted shall be required and no order of reference or any home studies need be issued. If the adult person to be adopted has been adjudicated incompetent, the written consent of the adult person's guardian or conservator shall be required. If the adult person is without a spouse, guardian, or conservator and the court has reason to believe that the adult person is incompetent to give consent, the court shall appoint a guardian ad litem who shall investigate the adult person's circumstances and that guardian ad litem shall give or withhold consent. The guardian ad litem shall file a written report stating the basis for the decision and the court shall afford a hearing to all parties to present evidence as to the best interest of the adult person, and if the court determines upon clear and convincing evidence that the decision to withhold consent by the guardian ad litem is arbitrary and is not in the best interests of the incompetent adult person, it may proceed to make any other orders it deems necessary for the adult person's welfare, including granting the petition for adoption. - See more here.
Who Must Be Served with Notice of an Adoption?
(a) Unless service has been previously waived, notice of pendency of the adoption proceeding shall be served by the petitioner on: (1) Any person, agency, or institution whose consent or relinquishment is required by Section 26-10A-7, unless service has been previously waived or consent has been implied. (2) The legally appointed custodian or guardian of the adoptee. (3) The spouse of any petitioner who has not joined in the petition. (4) The spouse of the adoptee. (5) The surviving parent or parents of a deceased parent of the adoptee. (6) Any person known to the petitioners as having physical custody, excluding licensed foster care or other private licensed agencies or having visitation rights with the adoptee under an existing court order. (7) The agency or individual authorized to investigate the adoption under Section 26-10A-19. (8) Any other person designated by the court. (9) The Department of Human Resources. (10) The father and putative father of the adoptee if made known by the mother or otherwise known by the court unless the court finds that the father or putative father has given implied consent to the adoption, as defined in Section 26-10A-9. (b) The notice shall specifically state that the person served must respond to the petitioner within 30 days if he or she intends to contest the adoption. A copy of the petition for adoption shall be delivered to those individuals or agencies in subdivisions (a)(2) through (a)(10). Any notice required by this chapter may be served on a natural parent prior to birth. (c) Service of the notice shall be made in the following manner: (1) Service of process shall be made in accordance with the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure except as otherwise provided by the Alabama Rules of Juvenile Procedure. If the identity or whereabouts of the parent is unknown, or if one parent fails or refuses to disclose the identity or whereabouts of the other parent, the court shall then issue an order providing for service by publication, by posting, or by any other substituted service. (2) As to the agency or individual referred to in subdivisions (a)(7) and (a)(9) above, notice shall be by certified mail. (3) As to any other person for whom notice is required under subsection (a) of this section, service by certified mail, return receipt requested, shall be sufficient. If such service cannot be completed after two attempts, the court shall issue an order providing for service by publication, by posting, or by any other substituted service. (d) The notice required by this section may be waived in writing by the person entitled to receive notice. (e) Proof of service of the notice on all persons for whom notice is required by this section must be filed with the court before the adjudicational hearing, provided in Section 26-10A-24. - See more here.