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How to Adopt in Rhode Island

From Providence to Warwick, Cranston to Pawtucket and everywhere in between, hundreds of families have been completed through adoption in Rhode Island. Whether you are looking to adopt a child or considering adoption for your baby, this guide outlines the rules and qualifications for adopting a child in Rhode Island, as well as other helpful state adoption information.

Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Adopting a Child in Rhode Island

Like every state, Rhode Island has laws regarding who can adopt and how they can adopt. If you are interested in adopting a child in Rhode Island, the following information will help you better understand the adoption process, laws and qualifications in your state.

What are the laws and qualifications for adopting a child in Rhode Island?

Any adult resident may adopt in Rhode Island. A nonresident may adopt a child in the care and custody of a child-placing agency. A husband and wife must adopt jointly.

What adoption expenses can be paid by adoptive families in Rhode Island?

This issue is not addressed in Rhode Island statutes.

What are the laws to become a foster parent in Rhode Island?

In Rhode Island, foster parents must be at least 21 years old, be physically able to care for a child and complete an approved home study, including a fire inspection and child abuse and criminal background checks.

What are the requirements to finalize an international adoption in Rhode Island?

The state registrar will issue a certificate of foreign birth upon receipt of an adoption decree, proof the child’s date and place of birth, and a request from the court, the adoptive parents or the adopted person, if he or she is 18 or older.

Is it legal to use advertising or facilitators to adopt in Rhode Island?

This issue is not addressed in Rhode Island statutes.

Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Placing a Baby for Adoption in Rhode Island

As a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy, you likely have many questions about the rules and regulations of placing a baby for adoption in Rhode Island. The following information will help answer some of your questions about adoption laws in the Ocean State.

When can birth parents consent to the adoption?

Consent to adoption may be executed 15 days after the child’s birth.

Who must consent to the adoption?

Consent must be given by the living parent(s) of the child. If neither parent is living, consent can be given by the child’s guardian, next of kin or a suitable person appointed by the court as next friend of the child. A minor parent may not consent to adoption without the consent of his or her parent, guardian, or guardian ad litem. The child must consent to the adoption if he or she is 14 or older.

When is consent not needed?

A parent’s rights may be terminated if the court finds that:

  • The parent willfully neglected the child for at least 1 year
  • The parent is unfit by reasons of conduct or conditions seriously detrimental to the child, such as:
    • Imprisonment or institutionalization of the parent that will make it improbable for the parent to care for the child for an extended period of time
    • Cruel or abusive conduct toward any child
    • Chronic substance abuse
    • Inability to correct conditions that led to termination of rights to another child
    • Subjecting the child to abandonment, torture, chronic abuse or sexual abuse
    • Commission of murder, voluntary manslaughter, or felony assault resulting in injury to any of the parent’s children
    • Other behavior or conduct that is seriously detrimental to the child
  • The child has been in the legal custody of the department for at least 12 months and it is unsafe for the child to return home
  • The parent has abandoned or deserted the child

When does the birth parents’ consent become irrevocable?

An adoption decree or termination of parental rights cannot be challenged or reversed unless the petition is filed in the family court 180 days after the decree or order is entered. If a challenge is brought within the 180-day time period, the family court will deny the challenge unless it finds that the adoption is not in the best interests of the child.

What rights does the father of the baby have in Rhode Island adoptions?

In Rhode Island, a man is presumed to be the father of a child if:

  • He and the child’s mother are or were married to each other and the child is born during the marriage or within 300 days of the end of the marriage
  • Before the child’s birth, he and the child’s mother attempted to marry each other, though the marriage is or could be declared invalid, and the child is born during the attempted marriage or within 300 days after its termination of the termination of cohabitation
  • After the child’s birth, he and the child’s mother attempted to marry each other, though the marriage could be declared invalid, and he has acknowledged his paternity in writing, has consented to be named as the child’s father on the child’s birth certificate, or is obligated to support the child under a written promise or court order
  • He acknowledges his paternity of the child in writing
  • He submits to blood testing and the results establish a conclusive presumption
  • He and the child’s mother sign a sworn acknowledgment of paternity for a child born out of wedlock

Home Study and Post-Placement Requirements in Rhode Island

Prior to fostering or adopting a child in Rhode Island, you must complete a home study. The home study is an evaluation process that assesses your ability to provide a stable, nurturing home to a child.
Below, find information about what to expect during the Rhode Island home study process.

What is included in the Rhode Island home study process?

The Rhode Island home study includes at least two home visits by the agency conducting the study. All prospective siblings and other household members will be interviewed during a home visit. In addition, the home study will include:

  • Identifying information on all household members and the current needs of each child in the home
  • The adoptive parents’ reasons and motivation to adopt
  • Current background information on the prospective parents, including a written self-assessment
  • Child care experience and parenting beliefs
  • Information regarding current and past marriage and partnership relationships
  • Current medical and psychological conditions, including addiction, that may be detrimental to a child
  • A description of the home and local community
  • Information regarding employment and finances
  • Reference letters from at least three individuals, including two nonrelatives
  • Background checks on the adoptive parents
  • Information about the parents’ willingness and ability to accept and cooperate with adoption support services, including their understanding of openness with the birth family
  • Information about the match between the parents and the child, including attitudes and capabilities of the prospective parents and the child’s characteristics and background

Who is included in the home study process?

The prospective adoptive parents, prospective siblings, and any other members of the household will be included in the Rhode Island home study.

Who will conduct the home study?

The Department of Children, Youth & Families is responsible for the home study. When a child is being placed for adoption by a duly licensed child-placing agency, the court may accept the home study report of the child-placing agency in lieu of the department’s investigation.

When must the home study be completed?

The report of the home study investigation must be submitted within 60 days.

On what grounds will the home study not be approved in Rhode Island?

The home study may not be approved if an applicant:

  • Has been convicted of a disqualifying criminal offense
  • Falsifies or omits facts during the home study
  • Impedes an adoptive study
  • Has a documented history of substantiated child abuse or neglect
  • Has a past or current history of agency or departmental intervention deemed detrimental to the care of a child
  • Has a documented history of chemical or alcohol-related problems
  • Would not provide satisfactory parenting for a child

What are the post-placement study requirements for Rhode Island?

Before a final adoption decree is entered, the social service worker will visit the adoptive family and child at least twice. A summary of the observations made during these visits will be used in making recommendations as to the finalization of the adoption.

What are the home study requirements for stepparent or relative adoptions in Rhode Island?

The court may waive home study requirements for a stepparent adoption.

What are the requirements to adopt a child from another state?

All out-of-state adoptive placements are subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC).

What are the requirements to adopt a child that is currently in my care?

Foster parents who have had the physical custody of the child for at least two years may petition the court for adoption of the child. The court will give notice of the petition to the natural parents, and after a hearing, it may grant the petition if it finds that the department has made every effort to involve the natural parents in planning for the child, the natural parents did not exercise reasonable visitation rights with the child and that adoption by the foster parents would be in the best interests of the child.
In Rhode Island, you are required to obtain a home study prior to an adoption placement. Contact one of these trusted home study providers to get started:

  • Adoption Options (RI)
    Adoption Options provides affordable adoption services to families in southeastern New England, including counseling and home study services.
  • Alliance for Children
    Alliance for Children is Hague-accredited and provides home study services for families working with the agency as well as families working with attorneys and out-of-state agencies.

Visit 1800HomeStudy.com to learn more about Rhode Island home study providers.

Rhode Island Adoption Agencies and Adoption Professionals

When you are ready to begin the adoption process, your adoption professional can work with you to answer your questions and arrange necessary adoption services. These adoption professionals are experienced in completing adoptions in Rhode Island and can help guide you through your adoption journey:

For more information about foster care in Rhode Island, visit the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth & Families.

Things to do in Rhode Island

Whether you visit the Ocean State to meet prospective birth parents or wait for ICPC approval, there is plenty to keep you busy in Rhode Island. Here are a few fun things you can enjoy during your stay:

Find more information about traveling to Rhode Island at https://www.visitrhodeisland.com/.  

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