Adoptions are times to celebrate, so bring your camera to the final hearing: be ready to smile, and to shed happy tears. Your lawyers and judge will share that joyful spirit, since adoptions are a welcome change of pace in the courthouse that involve the better side of the human condition.
Through an adoption, a parent-child relationship is established between a child and someone who is not the child’s biological parent. Often as part of an adoption, a biological parents’ legal rights and relationship with the child are terminated. Once an adoption decree is signed, the biological parents’ names are removed from the child's birth certificate and are replaced with the adoptive parents’ names.
In Minnesota, step-parent adoptions are usually straightforward, but involve a few more steps than in other states. The process involves gathering necessary documents, serving papers to the biological parents, and a brief hearing before a judge.
Step-parent adoptions are relatively inexpensive. That’s because they are usually unopposed; however, when a biological parent can’t be found, opposes the adoption, or presents other difficulties, legal fees will increase, sometimes considerably.
In Minnesota, adoptions by step-parents and biological relatives don’t involve adoption agencies and home studies. This helps reduce cost and make the process unfold faster.
Some states require two legal actions to complete an adoption. In one action, the biological parents’ rights are terminated. The adoption is a second, separate, action. In Minnesota, in step-parent adoptions, termination of biological parents’ rights and granting the adoption are all handled within the adoption action.
Step-parent adoptions are the most common adoptions we handle. Other common scenarios we address include:
In addition to step-parent and relative adoptions, Minnesota also offers direct placement or identified adoptions. These involve placing a child with a prospective non-relative family and require the involvement of an adoption agency. As these process are more complicated, we’re happy to answer any question you may have.
Minnesota allows for agency adoptions, direct placement adoptions, step-parent adoptions, and adult adoptions.
A direct placement adoption, known alternatively as private or independent adoption, involves a biological mother personally deciding who will be the adoptive parents for their child through direct contact or with the use of an attorney.
Both the adoptive parents and the biological mother may have attorneys during the adoption process to help guide them through the legal forms and help identify the best options when it comes to relinquishing and obtaining parental rights.
A putative or adoptive fathers’ registry is a legal option that allows an unmarried man to register and acknowledge the possibility of paternity to a child born outside of marriage. The putative father then is able to receive notice of any potential adoption of their alleged child before it can be granted.
The purpose of the putative fathers’ registry is to protect the parental rights of potential biological fathers and allows the father to object an unwanted adoption. The registry also helps government bodies or adoption agencies more efficiently locate possible biological fathers before their parental rights are relinquished.
Putative father registries are determined at the state level.
Currently, Minnesota recognizes same sex marriages and allows for multiple forms of LGBT adoption.
Both single individuals and same-sex couples are able to file a petition to adopt in the state of Minnesota. Additionally, there are no specific laws against adopting the stepchild of one’s partner.
Any person, regardless of age, may be adopted in Minnesota.
Any person who has resided in Minnesota for one year or more may petition to adopt a child or an adult. The residency requirement may be waived if it is the child’s best interests.
In most cases, the consent of a biological, non-custodial parent, is needed for an adoption to be finalized.
In direct placement and stepparent adoptions, the biological parents must consent to the adoption. In adult adoptions and adoptions of children over the age of 14, the adoptee must consent. In agency adoptions, parental rights are terminated separately and the entity with custody of the child (i.e. the State) must consent.
Minnesota allows adoptions without the consent of a noncustodial parent if the parent abandons the child or if the parent has lost legal rights through a judgment and he/she receives notice of the adoption hearing.
The rights of the biological parent that consents to an adoption are terminated. In stepparent adoption cases, the termination relates only to the noncustodial parent.
A parent may withdraw a consent for any reason within 10 working days after it is entered. After the 10th working day, the consent is deemed irrevocable, unless a court finds it was obtained by fraud.
A licensed adoption agency is necessary for direct placement and agency adoptions. The adoption agency must provide various reports to the court. Adoption agencies are not required for stepparent adoptions.
This is a direct placement adoption. A pre-adoptive placement study is the first step, followed by a relinquishment of custody and placement of the child prior to the adoption. After a time, normally six months, the Adoption Petition will be filed and heard by a court.
Gjesdahl Law handles these agency adoptions on a regular basis and works with the various agencies in the area to ensure that the process moves along smoothly for your new family.
ICWA is a federal law that gives a placement preference to the various Native American tribes if the child to be adopted is eligible for enrollment with a tribe.
If a child is eligible to be adopted, based upon the tribe’s eligibility requirements, the tribe may intervene and request placement with a tribal member or member of the child’s family. ICWA applies to all agency and identified adoptions. It may apply in some stepparent adoptions as well if one of the biological parents is a Native American and fits in the ICWA definitions for consideration. Minnesota also has a version of ICWA at the state level that may apply in some cases.
Yes, Minnesota does have an Adoptive Father’s Registry. A search of the registry must be completed before an adoption decree may be entered. A link to the State website can be found on our adoption links page.
A hearing is held before the district court judge to finalize the adoption. This is normally a joyous occasion and we encourage friends and families to attend. You may also bring a camera to take pictures. Once the Adoption Decree is entered and signed, you will receive a certified copy of the Decree and a new birth certificate will be issued to you by the proper state. In some cases, you will be required to undergo a post-adoption home study, although the court may waive this step in many circumstances.