You’ve finally decided. Now is the time.
It’s time to adopt a child. Your home has been missing something, and you know that the joy of a new child in your family is exactly what you need. The idea of loving a child, raising them, and giving them a safe and loving home brings you joy.
The adoption process is a celebrated event in courts across the country. It’s a welcomed break from the hard cases judges see throughout their days. A successful adoption is also a joyful juncture in the lives of adopting families, every bit as joyous as when a child arrives by natural birth.
As joyous as the adoption process is, it is also a legal process and you will want to know about the applicable law…before you embark on the adoption journey.
These laws address:
Be sure to consult a qualified and experienced family law attorney before taking the next step in the adoption process. While knowing about the laws mentioned here is beneficial, nothing compares to the experiential wisdom and expertise of a family law attorney.
Each state has its own adoption law and policies and maintains their own definitions of important terms. Here are seven important terms and definitions to know in the state of North Dakota.
We have edited these terms slightly from their official definitions to highlight the important things to know and make them easier to understand.
“Abandon” - A parent without custody has “abandoned” a child when they fail to communicate with the child or provide the care and support required by the law.
“Agency” – A licensed entity that places minors for adoption.
“Child” – a son or daughter, whether by birth or adoption.
“Genetic parent”- The biological mother or the “adjudicated mother” (the mother as determined by a court) of the adopted child or the presumed father or “adjudicated father” fo the adopted child.
“Genetic Sibling”- This is an individual with a genetic relationship with the child as a brother, sister, half-brother, or half-sister.
“Investigation” - Information about the child’s history, a pre-placement adoption assessment of the prospective adoptive family, and an evaluation of the child’s placement in the adoptive home.
“Identify vs Non-Identifying Adoption Information” - These terms refer to what information can be shared with the adopting family and adopted child regarding the child’s biological parents. Any information that will not contribute to learning the specific identity of the genetic parents may be shared with the child and the adoptive parents.
A petition for adoption must be signed and verified by the person or person’s adopting a child. The petition must be filed with the court, and must include this information:
A petition for adoption of a minor may only be granted if written consent has been given by the mother, the father, any individual with lawful custody, the court (if the legal guardian or custodian is not able to consent), and the child (if more than ten years old). Other stipulations apply for adults who would like to be adopted.
Consent is not required for the following people:
In most adoptions, an investigation by a licensed child-placing agency must be made. The purpose of the investigation is to determine whether the adoptive home provides a suitable environment for the minor and whether the proposed adoption is really in the best interest of the minor.
No investigation or report is required when a step-parent is the petitioner or an adult child is being adopted. In other cases, where the petitioners are family members, the investigation requirement can be waived.
While an adoption investigation may sound intimidating, you can find comfort knowing that the court is determined to providing safe and loving homes like yours for adoptive children.
Next, a written report of this investigation is filed with the court by the investigator before the court date. The report includes:
In non-step-parent adoptions, a final decree of adoption may not be issued until the child to be adopted has lived in the adoptive home for six months following:
When you’ve decided that adopting a child is the best decision for you and your family, please let us know. We’d love to help you through this process. We find joy, too, in bringing families together. It’s our pleasure and honor to make the process as smooth, efficient, and problem-free as possible.
Visit our North Dakota Adoption page for more information on how we can help. Please reach out to us when you ready to start.
Kari joined Gjesdahl Law, P.C. in 2016. She is dedicated to helping families resolve their issues and address their changing needs. Her practice primarily involves adoptions, …
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