What is an adoption?

Adoption is the legal procedure through which a minor is recognized
by law as being the son or daughter of the adopting adult(s) and as
having all of the rights and duties of such relationship including
the right of inheritance. The adoptee takes the name designated by
the petitioner.

Who may adopt?

Any person who is 19 or older. The Adoption Code specifically
prohibits discrimination in granting adoptions on the basis of
marital status or age.

Who can be adopted?

A minor, defined as being a person under the age of nineteen.

What steps are usually involved in an adoption?

  1. Preplacement investigation.
  2. All necessary consents and/or relinquishments
    concerning the adoption are obtained.
  3. Guardian ad litem is appointed when either natural
    parent of the adoptee is a minor or in case of a contested
    hearing.
  4. Petition court for authority to pay fees or expenses.
  5. Placement of child with petitioners.
  6. File petition for adoption 30 days after placement.
  7. Serve notice or obtain waiver of notice on or from
    all parties entitled to notice of the adoption.
  8. Post placement investigation.
  9. Hearings.
  10. Affidavits of non-payment.
  11. Accounting of disbursements.

What is a pre-placement investigation?

It is an investigation conducted for the purpose of determining the
suitability of each petitioner and the home in which the adoptee
will be placed. The investigation will include a criminal background
search and will focus on any other circumstances relevant to the
placement of the adoptee.

Is it always necessary to have a pre-placement investigation?

Yes, unless the persons seeking to adopt is a close relative of the
adoptee as listed in 26-10A-27; 26-10A-28 of the Code of Alabama.

Whose consent to the adoption is required?

  1. The adoptee, if 14 years or older unless mentally
    incapable of giving consent.
  2. The adoptee’s mother.
  3. The adoptee’s presumed father if he meets the
    requirements set out in 26-10A-7(c) of the Code of Alabama.
  4. The agency to whom the adoptee has been relinquished
    or which holds permanent custody except that a court may grant an
    adoption without the agency’s consent when it would be in the
    child’s best interest and the agency’s withholding of consent is
    unreasonable.
  5. The putative father if known; provided that he
    responds within 30 days after receiving notice of the adoption.

Can a minor consent to the adoption of his or her child?

Yes, however prior to such consent the court must appoint the minor
parent a guardian ad litem to represent the minor’s interests. A
minor who is 14 years of age or older can nominate a guardian ad
litem to protect his or her interests.

Can a person revoke a consent to adoption executed by him or her due to the fact that at the time consent was given that person was a minor?

No, a consent or relinquishment executed by a parent who is a minor
shall not be subject to revocation by reason of such minority.

When, where and in what form must a consent or relinquishment for adoption be given?

A consent or relinquishment for adoption may be given at any time.
The prebirth consent of the mother must be signed or confirmed
before a probate judge. All other prebirth or post-birth consent or
relinquishments must be signed or confirmed before the Probate Judge
or clerk of the Probate Court, or someone appointed by that court to
do such, a person appointed by the agency conducting the
investigation or a notary public. The consent or relinquishment must
be in substantially the same form as provided in the adoption code
and must be in writing and signed by the person consenting or
relinquishing.

When may a consent or relinquishment be withdrawn?

A consent or relinquishment may be withdrawn for any reason five
days after the birth of the adoptee or five days after the signing
of the consent or relinquishment whichever occurs later. The time to
withdraw the consent or relinquishment can be expanded to 14 days if
the court finds that such a delay is reasonable under the
circumstances and is in the best interest of the child.

Where is a petition for adoption filed?

A petition for adoption may be filed in the probate court of any of
the following counties: where the minor resides; where the
petitioner resides or is in military service, or where the office of
the agency or institution having guardianship or custody of the
minor is located.

When is a petition for adoption filed?

The adoption petition must be filed within 30 days after the minor
is placed with the prospective adoption parent(s) for adoption. If
the person seeking the adoption is a stepparent or relative of the
adoptee then the adoptee must reside with the petitioner for al year
before such petition is filed. If the child has not lived with the
stepparent of relative for a year, the adoption will proceed in the
same manner as all other adoptions unless the court waives the
residence requirement.

Can I pay the parent of a minor or unborn child for the child?

No! An offer to make such payment is a Class A misdemeanor, to
receive payment for a person’s consent to adoption is a class C
felony.

What expenses can I pay?

A person seeking to adopt a child may pay maternity connected
medical or hospital and necessary living expenses of the mother
preceding birth and during pregnancy and during pregnancy related
incapacity as long as such payments are made as an act of charity
and such payment is not contingent upon placement of the child for
adoption. All fees and expenses, including legal, medical,
investigative, or other legitimate professional fees may only be
paid with court approval.

How confidential is an adoption?

The adoption code was designed to keep an adoption as confidential
as possible.

  1. Before a final adoption decree is rendered the only
    people with access to the adoption records are: the petitioner,
    the petitioner’s attorney; the preplacement investigator, and any
    attorney appointed or retained by the minor being adopted. No
    other person has access to the adoption records unless they obtain
    a court order after showing good cause to allow then to inspect
    records.
  2. All adoption hearings are confidential and held in
    closed court open only to the interested parties and their
    counsel, except with leave of the court.
  3. After the final decree of adoption is entered all
    documents pertaining to the adoption are sealed and identifying
    information cannot be obtained by anyone except the adoptee under
    limited circumstances. (see below).
  4. The natural parent(s) may consent in writing under
    oath to disclosure of identifying information to the adoptee when
    such adoptee reaches the age of 19. The adoptee upon reaching the
    age of 19 may petition the court for disclosure of identifying
    information. Such information will not be released to the adoptee
    without the natural parent consent unless the court determines it
    is best after weighting the interests of the parties involved.

What is the difference between an adoption by a stepparent or a close family member and other adoptions?

There is usually a lot less formality and requirements when the
adoptee is being adopted by a stepparent or close family member.

Unlike all other adoptions, usually no preplacement or
postplacement investigation nor accounting of the cost relating to
the adoption are required.

In order to be exempt from these requirements, the adoptee must
have lived with the petitioner for at least one year.

Can grandparents obtain visitation rights to see the adoptee after the adoption?

Ordinarily the grandparents have no visitation rights with their
grandchildren when the natural parents’ rights have been terminated
by adoption. However, at the court’s discretion the court may allow
such visitation rights if the child is adopted by a close relative
or a stepparent provided it is in the child’s best interests.