Adoption is primarily regulated through State laws, but there are multiple jurisdictions that oversee the legalization of adoptions, which varies from State to State, often depending on the type of adoption. Below, find resources and information, including State and local examples, about legal issues about the adoption of children.
5 Open Adoption Legal Issues Adopting Parents Need to Know
Defines open adoption and outlines five key challenges that often complicate the process: relinquishment, reclamation, future involvement, future changes, and differing laws.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children's Bureau
Reviews adoption and legal guardianship incentives and includes links to information on title IV-E adoption assistance.
Adoption Assistance for Children Adopted From Foster Care
Outlines the legal documents necessary to complete the adoption process, beginning with the termination of parental rights and continuing through finalization. Important documents include an adoption decree, amended birth certificate, and social security cards.
Brain Frames: How Attorneys Can Engage Youth in Case Planning and Court Hearings (PDF - 79 KB)
American Bar Association, Center on Children and the Law (2019)
Provides guidance to professionals working to engage youth in conversations about case planning and court hearings, including conversations addressing youth’s concerns about being adopted.
Court Jurisdiction and Venue for Adoption Petitions
Obstacles to the Adoption Process
Find Law (2018)
Details legal challenges to the adoption process, including challenges by the birth mother or putative father and issues related to culture.
Topic 18. Adoption
National Indian Law Library
Answers frequently asked questions about the adoption process as guided by the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), such as if adoption is possible without a termination of parental rights and if ICWA applies to private agency adoptions.
Unadoptable Is Unacceptable: Removing Legal Barriers to Permanency for Older Youth
Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption (2019)
Outlines the legal challenges common when children transition from foster care into an adoptive family.
US Adoption Assistance/Subsidy
North American Council on Adoptable Children
Explains who is eligible for adoption assistance and what this resource covers.
State and local examples
Explains the legal process of adoption in California and reviews types of adoptions, steps to file an adoption, finding birth parents, and more.
Consumer Pamphlet: Adoption in Florida
The Florida Bar (2016)
Reviews adoption law and procedures in Florida.
Illinois Adoption Legal Resources
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (2018)
Provides an overview of legal resources related to adopting in Illinois.
Steps to Adoption
North Dakota Department of Human Services
Details the adoption process in North Dakota, including the legal requirements that adoptive parents must fulfill before an adoption is finalized.
Your Guide to Adoption in Massachusetts (PDF - 146 KB)
Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (2016)
Highlights adoption in Massachusetts, including information about children who are awaiting adoption, adoption requirements, how to become an adoptive parent, and more.