Consent to Adoption - Massachusetts

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Who Must Consent to an Adoption

Citation: Ann. Laws Ch. 210, § 2

Written consent to the adoption is required from the following:

  • The lawful parents, who may be previous adoptive parents
  • A surviving parent
  • The mother only if the child has been born out of wedlock
  • The child's spouse, if any

If an agency or person receiving a child born out of wedlock for purposes of a subsequent adoption receives an executed consent from the child's mother and no person has acknowledged paternity of the child or has been adjudicated the father of the child by any court of competent jurisdiction, then the person or agency shall request that the mother voluntarily provide a sworn written statement, executed before a notary and in the presence of two competent witnesses, one of whom shall be selected by the mother, which identifies the child's father and his current or last known address. Any such statement shall be used solely for the purpose of notifying the person named as the father of the status of the child.

Consent of Child Being Adopted

Citation: Ann. Laws Ch. 210, § 2

A child who is age 12 or older must consent to the adoption.

When Parental Consent is not Needed

Citation: Ann. Laws Ch. 210, § 3

The consent of the persons named above shall not be required if the following apply:

  • The person to be adopted is age 18 or older.
  • The court finds that the adoption is in the best interests of the child due to parental unfitness.

A finding of unfitness may be based on the following:

  • The child has been abandoned.
  • The child or another child has been abused or neglected.
  • The child has been in out-of-home placement for at least 6 months and the parents have not maintained significant and meaningful contact with the child.
  • The child is age 4 or older and has been in the custody of the department for at least 12 of the past 15 months and cannot be returned home.
  • The child is under age 4 and has been in the custody of the department for at least 6 of the past 12 months and cannot be returned home.
  • The parent, without excuse, fails to provide proper care for the child.
  • Because of the lengthy absence of the parent or the parent's inability to meet the needs of the child, the child has formed a strong, positive bond with a substitute caregiver.
  • The parent has made no effort to remedy conditions that create a risk of harm to the child.
  • The child or another child has been subjected to severe or repetitive conduct of a physically, emotionally, or sexually abusive or neglectful nature.
  • The parent has willfully failed to visit and support a child who is not in the custody of the parent.
  • The parent suffers from a condition, such as alcohol or drug addiction, mental deficiency, or mental illness, which makes the parent unlikely to provide minimally acceptable care of the child.
  • The parent's conviction of a felony will deprive the child of a stable home for a period of years.
  • There exists a prior pattern of parental neglect or misconduct or a felony assault that resulted in serious bodily injury to the child and a likelihood of future harm to the child based on such prior pattern or assault.

When Consent Can Be Executed

Citation: Ann. Laws Ch. 210, § 2

Written consent shall be executed no sooner than the fourth day after the birth of the child.

How Consent Must Be Executed

Citation: Ann. Laws Ch. 210, § 2

The written consent shall be attested and subscribed before a notary public in the presence of two competent witnesses, one of whom shall be selected by the consenting person. The agency or person receiving custody shall act as guardian of the child until such time as a court of competent jurisdiction appoints a guardian or grants a petition for adoption. A copy of the consent shall be filed with the Department of Children and Families.

The form of the consent is provided in statute.

If an agency or person receiving a child born out of wedlock for purposes of a subsequent adoption receives an executed consent form from the child's mother and no person has acknowledged paternity of the child or has been adjudicated the father of the child by any court of competent jurisdiction, then the person or agency shall request that the mother voluntarily provide a sworn written statement, executed before a notary and in the presence of two competent witnesses, one of whom shall be selected by the mother, which identifies the child's father and his current or last known address. Any such statement shall be used solely for the purpose of notifying the person named as the father of the status of the child.

Revocation of Consent

Citation: Ann. Laws Ch. 210, § 2

A consent executed in accordance with the provisions of this section shall be final and irrevocable from the date of execution.