Completing Intercountry Adoptions Not Finalized Abroad - Alabama

Date: May 2019

Requirements for Completing the Adoption

Citation: Ala. Code §§ 26-10A-35; 38-7-15; 26-10A-16; 26-10A-25

Children may be brought into Alabama for purposes of adoption as provided in § 38-7-15, except that investigations shall be made as provided in § 26-10A-19(c).

No person or agency shall bring or send any child into Alabama for the purpose of adoption without first obtaining the consent of the Department of Human Resources. The department shall have the power to impose and enforce reasonable conditions for granting consent, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • The department may designate an agency in the State from which the child is being brought to interview the parent or parents to obtain social information, background information, and medical information about the child.
  • The department is authorized to receive the birth certificate of the child from the other State.
  • If the child, after being brought into Alabama, becomes dependent, neglected, or delinquent prior to his or her adoption, the child shall be subject to the laws of the State as if he or she were a resident child of this State.
  • The child will be placed in conformity with the rules and regulations of the department.
  • The person with whom the child is placed shall be responsible for his proper care and training.

A petition for adoption shall be filed within 30 days after the minor is placed with the prospective adoptive parent or parents. The petition shall be signed, verified by each petitioner, and include the following:

  • The full name, age, and place of residence of each petitioner and, if married, the place and date of marriage
  • The date and place of birth of the adoptee, except in the case of abandonment
  • The birth name of the adoptee, any other names by which the adoptee has been known, and the adoptee's proposed new name
  • Where the adoptee is residing at the time of the filing of the petition, and if the minor is not in the custody of a petitioner, when he, she, or they intend to acquire custody
  • That each petitioner desires to establish a parent-and-child relationship with the adoptee and that he or she is a fit and proper person able to care for and provide for the adoptee's welfare
  • The relationship, if any, of each petitioner to the adoptee
  • The name and address of the placing agency, if any
  • The names and addresses of all persons known to the petitioner at the time of filing from whom consents or relinquishment to the adoption are required

When the preplacement investigation has been completed and approved or the investigation has been waived for good cause shown, the petition for adoption shall be set for a dispositional hearing as soon as possible or no later than 90 days after the filing of the petition. At the dispositional hearing, the court shall grant a final decree of adoption if it finds on clear and convincing evidence of all of the following:

  • The adoptee has been in the actual physical custody of the petitioners for a period of 60 days, unless for good cause shown, this requirement is waived by the court.
  • All necessary consents, relinquishments, terminations, or waivers have been obtained and, if appropriate, have been filed with the court.
  • Each petitioner is a suitable adopting parent and desires to establish a parent-and-child relationship between himself or herself and the adoptee.
  • The best interests of the adoptee are served by the adoption.
  • All other requirements of this chapter have been met.

The court shall enter its finding in a written decree that also shall include the new name of the adoptee and shall not include any other name by which the adoptee has been known or the names of the natural or presumed parents.

Required Evidence/Documentation

Citation: Ala. Code § 26-10A-16

The adoption petition shall be accompanied by a copy of the child's birth certificate or affidavit stating that application for a birth certificate has been made, except in cases where the child has been abandoned.

Background Studies

Citation: Ala. Code § 26-10A-19

A preplacement investigation shall be made to determine the suitability of each petitioner and the home in which the adoptee will be placed. The investigation shall include a criminal background investigation and any other circumstances that might be relevant to the placement of an adoptee with the petitioners. A copy of the preplacement investigation shall be filed with the court when the petition for adoption is filed.

Unless a preplacement investigation has been performed within 24 months of the petition or an investigation is dispensed with by court order for good cause shown on the record, no decree for the adoption of any adoptee shall be entered until a full postplacement investigation ordered by the court has been made concerning the following:

  • The suitability of each petitioner and his, her, or their home for the adoptee
  • Why the natural parents, if living, desire to be relieved of the care, support, and guardianship of the child
  • Whether the natural parents have abandoned the child or are otherwise unsuited to have custody of the child
  • Any orders, judgments, or decrees affecting the adoptee or any children of the petitioner
  • Any property owned by the adoptee
  • The medical histories, both physical and mental, of the adoptee and the birth parents
  • Criminal background investigations
  • The costs and expenses connected with the adoption
  • Any other circumstances that may be relevant to the placement of the adoptee with the petitioners

Placement Supervision and Reporting

Citation: Ala. Code §§ 26-10A-19; 38-7-15

In every adoption proceeding, after a child has been placed in the home, in the postplacement investigation an investigator must observe the adoptee and interview the petitioner in their home as soon as possible after notice of the placement but, in any event, within 45 days after the placement.

The investigator shall complete and file his or her written report with the court within 60 days from receipt of notice of the proceeding and shall deliver a copy of the report to the petitioner's attorney or to each petitioner if he or she is appearing pro se. The investigation shall include a verification of all allegations of the petition. The report shall include sufficient facts for the court to determine whether there has been compliance with consent or relinquishment provisions of this chapter.

The person or agency receiving the child in Alabama shall report to the department at such reasonable times as the department may direct, as to the location and well-being of the child, as long as the child remains within the State and until he or she reaches age 18 or is legally adopted.

Effect of Adoption Decree on Parental Rights

Citation: Ala. Code § 26-10A-29

The adoptee shall take the name designated by the petitioner. After adoption, the adoptee shall be treated as the natural child of the adopting parent or parents and shall have all rights and be subject to all duties arising from that relationship, including the right of inheritance.

Upon the final decree of adoption, the natural parents of the adoptee, except for a natural parent who is the spouse of the adopting parent, are relieved of all parental responsibility for the adoptee and will have no parental rights over the adoptee.

Obtaining a U.S. Birth Certificate

Citation: Ala. Code § 22-9a-12(i)

The State registrar shall, upon request, prepare and register a certificate in this State for a person born in a foreign country who is not a citizen of the United States and who was adopted through a court in this State. The certificate shall be established upon receipt of all of the following:

  • A report of adoption from the court decreeing the adoption
  • Proof of the date and place of birth of the child
  • A request from the court; the adopting parents; or the adopted person, if he or she is age 18 or older, that a certificate be prepared

The certificate shall be labeled 'certificate of foreign birth' and shall show the actual country of birth. A statement also shall be included on the certificate indicating that it is not evidence of U.S. citizenship for the child for whom it is issued. After registration of the birth certificate in the new name of the adopted person, the State registrar shall seal and file the report of adoption which shall not be subject to inspection except upon order of a court of competent jurisdiction or as provided by statute.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, any person age 19 or older who has had a certificate of foreign birth prepared in the State of Alabama may, upon written request, receive a copy of any information about the adoption held in files under the jurisdiction of the State registrar.