An Overview of Adoption Laws in the us

Adoption laws in the United States vary vastly from state to state, and the local rules even from agency to agency. However, there are a few good guidelines that the perspective adoptive parents need to look at as well. The adoptive parents must be able to meet certain criteria before they are ready to adopt, and they have to have done their research and be fully prepared for anything that could be thrown at them.

The first would be the “Mandatory Legal Criteria. The legal requirements are set by the state and county where the adoption actually takes place, which is generally the adoptive parents’ state and county. There are a few states that will allow adoptions to be processed by non-residents, but the requirements are generally not very flexible and cannot be waived or modified. However, if the parents decide to make an adoption outside of their home county or state, then they need to make sure that the laws of the two counties or states are compatible, so they do not hit trouble later on.

Next is the preferred agency criterion. The criteria put in place by the individual agency’s are based on the requirements put in place by the state, but will take them over and beyond. These criteria are usually based on the agency’s resources, the social philosophy and/or the commercial, non-profit, or public entities that provide the support. Each agency can establish its own criteria, but it may be able to waive the criteria under certain circumstances. It is best to search around for the agency with criteria that each couple is comfortable with.

Also included is the criterion that birth parents have put in place. This is becoming more popular as time goes on. The birth parents in this situation can impose criteria they feel are important in their situation. It can be a good thing for this because it allows for the individual circumstances of each adoption to be considered. This level of criteria is usually absent with non-infant adoptions because by this point the parental rights of the birth parents have already been legally terminated by the court.

The last criteria would be those of the adopting parents. A lot of the time these criteria are practical limits in which they will not go into adoption. If they are uncomfortable with the adoption opportunities, they will not move forward with the adoption.

The individual state laws can be rather complex and must be researched thoroughly by the adoptive parents as well as the birth parents. Each states’ laws can be complicated to the point that occasionally they will contradict or difficult to work with other states’ adoption laws. However, each set of laws will include who can access the adoption records, who must consent to an adoption and when, the parties to an adoption (who may adopt, who may place, who may be adopted), putative fathers (registries, paternity), regulation of adoption expenses, infant safe haven laws, use of advertising & facilitators, and source of state statutes.

Links to the laws of each individual state are included at