Adoption creates a parent/child relationship with all of its rights and obligation and at the same time removes the rights and obligations of any previously existing parent/child relationship. This relationship must also be created by court order. You will have to appear before the court and sign a written statement saying that you will act in all regards as the parent of the person and that you will take on all the responsibilities that go with that.
Some of the most frequently asked questions about adoption are:
May I adopt?
In order to adopt, you must be an adult who is either married (and has permission from your spouse) or single (and not cohabiting with another person). In addition, the person you are adopting must be at least ten years younger than you. When considering if you are able to adopt a child, the best interests of the child will be considered by the court. In order to determine the best interests of the child, the court may order the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) to investigate and make a report to the court.
Where do I file the paperwork?
A petition for adoption is generally filed in district court. However, if there is an action in juvenile court terminating a parent’s rights, the petition may be filed there.
Who needs to be notified?
Any person or institution whose consent is required (see below) must be given at least thirty (30) days' notice. Although not complete, some examples of people who might need to be notified are:
- anyone who has filed a paternity action for the child and filed a notice of that action with the Department of Vital Statistics;
- any legally appointed guardian or custodian;
- your spouse, if applicable;
- a parent listed on the birth certificate; and
- a person who lives with the child and acts like the child’s parent.
Does anyone have to give consent?
Yes. Except as noted below, you will generally have to get written consent from at least one person. A person may not give consent until the child is at least 24 hours old. Consent may be given in front of a judge or given to an adoption agency. Once signed, consent cannot be revoked. As you might expect, the list of who may have to consent is very similar to the list of those you must notify and include the following:
- the person being adopted if he or she is over 12 and mentally competent;
- both parents of a minor child if born within a marriage;
- the mother of a minor child if born outside of a marriage, and the father if:
- a court has ruled that he is the father,
- he has filed a voluntary declaration of paternity prior to the mother signing the consent of adoption,
- he has developed a strong relationship with the child and has taken some responsibility and/or shown some commitment for the child, or
- he has lived with the child for 6 months within the child’s first year and acted as though the child was his own.
- the adoption agency.
When is consent not needed?
Generally, consent will not be required if no other relationship with the person being adopted exists. Some examples are:
- a person’s parental rights have been terminated
- an unmarried father has not established his right to consent (as described above), or
- a parent is deceased.
If consent from the biological father cannot be obtained because he cannot be located, you must file a certificate from the Department of Health stating that a diligent search for the filing of paternity was performed and that no filing could be found.
What if someone doesn't agree to the adoption?
If someone does not agree with the adoption, they have a right to fight it. In order to do so, they must inform the Court either by appearing at the hearing or by filing a written statement of their concerns within 30 days of being served notice of the adoption.
How long does it take?
The court will not finalize an adoption until the person has lived in the home of the adoptive parent for a period of time. If the adoptive parent is a step-parent, the time period is one (1) year. Otherwise, the time period is six (6) months.
What about confidentiality?
Adoption records are sealed by the court and cannot be inspected or copied without permission of the court. Limited access to health information may be obtained. However, Utah does have an adoption registry that contains identifying information of an adopted child and their natural parent. A child or parent must voluntarily place their information in the registry. Brothers and sisters of adopted children who voluntarily register may receive information about each other.The information in this site is not intended as legal advice.
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