Completing Intercountry Adoptions Not Finalized Abroad - Missouri

Date: May 2019

Requirements for Completing the Adoption

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 453.020; 453.080; Code of Regs. § 35-73.080

The petition for adoption shall state the following:

  • The name, sex, and place of birth of the adoptee
  • The name of his or her parents, if known to the petitioner
  • The fact that petitioner is able to properly care for, maintain, and educate the minor adoptee
  • If it is desired to change the name of the adoptee, the new name

The court shall conduct a hearing to determine whether the adoption shall be finalized. During the hearing, the court shall ascertain whether the following is true:

  • The person sought to be adopted, if a child, has been in the lawful and actual custody of the petitioner for at least 6 months prior to entry of the adoption decree. Lawful and actual custody shall include a transfer of custody pursuant to the laws of this State, another State, a territory of the United States, or another country.
  • The court has received and reviewed a postplacement assessment on the monthly contacts with the adoptive family pursuant to § 453.077.
  • The court has received and reviewed an updated financial affidavit.
  • The court has received and reviewed the recommendations of the guardian ad litem, the person placing the child, the person making the assessment, and the person making the postplacement assessment.
  • It is fit and proper that such adoption should be made.

In regulation: Families being considered for the placement of a child from a foreign country shall meet all criteria for families adopting a child born in Missouri.

In countries where foreign government authorization or licensure of orphanages, lawyers, or others working in the field of adoption is required, agencies shall enter into agreements and working relationships regarding an adoption with those who meet the requirements of the foreign government. In countries where an agency based in Missouri is required to obtain a license or other authorization from that country, a copy of that license or authorization shall be filed with the Children's Division of the Department of Social Services.

For international placement situations in which the prospective adoptive parents must travel to the foreign country, assistance from the placing agency should include assisting or preparing the family for such travel, assistance with passport and visa, any immunizations or health concerns, and preparation for travel within the foreign culture.

For an international placement, a child-placing agency evaluating the prospective adoptive parents shall include the following in their discussion with and evaluation of the adoptive family:

  • Discussion of the family's intent and ability to help the child maintain cultural/ethnic identity and familiarity with the country of origin
  • Discussion of factors particular to child's country of origin (such as, medical, developmental concerns)
  • Community resources available to assist the prospective adoptive parents with the adjustment following the placement of the child
  • Coping with any language, cultural, or other barriers that may affect the placement

A child-placing agency must evaluate the prospective adoptive parents for the placement of a child from a foreign country, including discussion about the child's acceptance within the immediate and extended family and the community at large. The child-placing agency shall obtain and document all available information about the birth parents.

Required Evidence/Documentation

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 453.070

No decree for the adoption of a child under age 18 shall be entered for the petitioner until a full investigation has been made that includes the following:

  • An assessment of the adoptive parents
  • An appropriate postplacement assessment
  • A summary of written reports as provided for in § 453.026
  • Any other pertinent information relevant to whether the child is suitable for adoption by the petitioner and whether the petitioner is suitable as a parent for the child

The assessment of petitioner or petitioners shall be submitted to the petitioner and to the court prior to the scheduled hearing of the adoptive petition.

Background Studies

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 453.026; Code of Regs. § 35-73.080

As early as is practical before a prospective adoptive parent accepts physical custody of a child, the person placing the child for adoption shall furnish to the court, the guardian ad litem, and the prospective adoptive parent a written report regarding the child.

In regulation: Prior to adoptive placement, a comprehensive and documented assessment of each child's medical, psychological, and social development shall be completed on an age-appropriate basis by or at the direction of a child-placing agency or adoption intermediary. The assessment shall include, but not be limited to, the following information:

  • Medical, social, and cultural/ethnic background information about the child's birth family
  • Information on previous alternative care or adoptive placements, if applicable
  • Developmental history of the prospective adoptive child, including developmental milestones and current development
  • A written synopsis of any professional evaluation and treatment recommendations for the child, including medical, educational, dental, psychological, psychiatric, etc.
  • The child's experiences, including the following:
    • Maternal attitudes during pregnancy and early infancy, including prenatal care and substance use
    • Continuity of parental care and affection
    • Foster care placements
    • Separation and attachment issues
    • Any history of abuse or neglect
  • Language skills or education

A child-placing agency or adoption intermediary shall complete an adoptive family assessment of each eligible adoptive family prior to the placement of a child in the home. The family assessment process shall consist of the following:

  • Confidential interviews with the applicants and all members of the applicants' household, as age appropriate
  • A visit to the residence of the applicants that includes a complete inspection of the home

The written family assessment shall include the following:

  • Identifying information on each member of the household, including the following:
    • Names, addresses, dates and places of birth, and Social Security numbers
    • Race and ethnic background
    • Religion, if applicable
    • Education and place of employment
    • Any children, including those not in the home
    • Physical description
  • A social history on each applicant, including the following:
    • A description of the applicant's family of origin, including values, child rearing, relationships past and present, and discipline methods
    • Marital history and current relationships
    • Interests and hobbies
    • Physical and mental health history, including psychiatric treatment, if any, and extent of alcohol and drug use

Supplemental documentation shall include the following:

  • Child abuse and neglect background screening check of the central registry
  • Criminal arrest and conviction records, including a fingerprint search, from a State law enforcement agency
  • Written medical reports, no more than 12 months old, on all adult members of the household
  • Verifications of marriage(s) and divorce(s), if applicable
  • Written documentation of income and financial resources

Placement Supervision and Reporting

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 453.077; Code of Regs. § 35-73.080

When a child has been placed with the petitioner for the required 6-month placement period, the person conducting the preplacement assessment of the adoption or other persons authorized to conduct assessments shall provide the court with a postplacement assessment. The specific content of which shall be determined by rule by the division. The postplacement assessment shall include an update of the preplacement assessment that was submitted to the court pursuant to § 453.070 and a report on the emotional, physical, and psychological status of the child.

In regulation: A child-placing agency shall provide education, training, and support to the family to facilitate positive adjustment to the placement. A child-placing agency shall maintain contact with the family during the supervision period.

For children 36 months of age and under, the agency shall do the following:

  • Conduct, at a minimum, quarterly home visits until the adoption is final
  • Conduct monthly telephone contacts between home visits
  • Receive regular written reports from the child's pediatrician

For children older than age 3 or children with special needs, the agency shall do the following:

  • Conduct one home visit within the first 10 days of placement, then, at a minimum, quarterly until the adoption is finalized
  • Conduct monthly telephone contacts between home visits
  • Receive regular written reports from the child's pediatrician
  • If the child is in school, receive one report from school personnel regarding the child's progress every school quarter
  • Interview the child privately to discuss the child's feelings about the adoption during each supervisory visit

The agency shall document in the child's record that all members of the adoptive family's household, including the adoptive child, were interviewed during supervision and that the following issues were discussed:

  • How the addition of this child into the family has changed marital and sibling relationships and how extended family and friends have reacted to the adoption
  • What role each family member has assumed in child care
  • How parents have coped with additional responsibilities; discipline; and physical, psychological, emotional, and financial stresses
  • How the family is imparting knowledge of the child's history, as age appropriate
  • The child's adjustment, including health, school, and family

For an international adoption, postplacement services shall include the following:

  • Attention shall be given to the child's acceptance within the extended family and the community at large.
  • Discussion shall focus on any differences in appearance of the child from the family and how those differences are being addressed and resolved.
  • Health concerns relative to the child's country of origin shall be noted and followed by a physician, as needed, and shall be discussed by the worker and the family.
  • Postplacement reports shall be completed and forwarded to the country of origin, as required by that country.
  • The agency shall offer information to the family regarding recognition of foreign decrees, transfer of custody, and adoption, as needed.
  • Certified copies of the final decree of the adoption shall be kept in the case record and forwarded to the country of origin, as needed. A translation of the decree shall be retained, if applicable.
  • Families shall be encouraged to complete naturalization proceedings on their adopted child.

Effect of Adoption Decree on Parental Rights

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 453.080; 453.090

If the court determines the adoption should be finalized, a decree shall be issued setting forth the facts and ordering that from the date of the decree the adoptee shall be for all legal intents and purposes the child of the petitioner or petitioners. The court may decree that the name of the person sought to be adopted be changed, if requested in the petition.

When a child is adopted in accordance with the provisions of this chapter, all legal relationships and all rights and duties between the child and his or her natural parents shall cease. The child shall thereafter be deemed and held to be for every purpose the child of his or her parents by adoption, as fully as though born to them in lawful wedlock.

Obtaining a U.S. Birth Certificate

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 453.100; 193.125

After the entry of the decree of adoption, the clerk of the court shall immediately send to the Department of Health and Senior Services a certificate of the decree of adoption. The certificate shall set forth the following:

  • The original name, the new name, sex, and date and place of birth of the person adopted
  • The name of his or her natural parents, if known
  • The names of the adopting parents
  • Any other pertinent facts set forth in the decree of adoption on forms prescribed and furnished by the State registrar pursuant to § 193.125

In a case of adoption in this State of a person not born in any State, territory, or possession of the United States or country not covered by interchange agreements, the State registrar, upon receipt of the certificate of decree of adoption, shall prepare a birth certificate in the name of the adopted person, as decreed by the court. The State registrar shall file the certificate of the decree of adoption, and such documents may be opened by the State registrar only by an order of court. The birth certificate prepared under this section shall have the same legal weight as evidence of personal identity as a delayed or altered birth certificate, as provided in § 193.235.