Are you looking to adopt a child? Legal adoption is often an important step in bringing a family together, but there are many different factors that can affect the process. Consulting with a lawyer who is familiar with Missouri adoption law can help make things clearer.
Participants in the Adoption Process
In addition to the child to being adopted, there are two parties in the adoption process: the parents who will adopt the child (also known as petitioners) and the birth (biological) parents. In Missouri, children may be placed for adoption by their birth parents, a licensed adoption agency, the Children’s Division, or an attorney, physician, or clergyman. The state oversees the adoption process and strives to make sure everything is in the best interest of the child.
Who Can Adopt?
Children can be placed for adoption independently or through an agency. The most common type of adoption occurs when a stepparent adopts the child or children of their partner. Grandparents or other close relatives also commonly adopt their grandchildren, nieces or nephews, etc. Children in the foster system can be adopted by their foster parents as well.
No matter the relationship of the adoptive parents to the child, the adoptive parents must be over 21 years old and considered eligible to adopt. In Missouri, eligibility can depend on the adoptive parents’ mental and physical health, income, and criminal background. Antidiscrimination laws apply. If you’re adopting a child from a different state or country, there might be additional legal requirements.
The Adoption Process
There are two main parts to the adoption process in Missouri. First, the court transfers custody to the adoptive parents and terminates the birth parents’ parental rights. After the adoptee has been in the legal custody of the adoptive parents for six months, a final hearing is held and the adoption is legally complete.
Missouri has state laws that regulate adoptions, but different cities and counties within the state can have varying processes that need to be followed.
Adoptive parents can choose to file a petition in family or juvenile court in any of the following counties: where they live, where the birth parents live, where the adoptee was born, or where the adoptee currently lives. It’s usually best to make sure your attorney practices adoption law in the county where you’ll be filing. Clients in Columbia and Boone County can rest easy knowing Benner Law has the experience necessary to navigate the adoption processes in those courts.