Alabama

How to Adopt in Alabama

Whether you are considering placing your baby for adoption in Alabama or a family looking to adopt in the Heart of Dixie, the following information outlines everything you need to know about adoption in your state. Learn more about the rules for adopting a child in Alabama or placing a child for adoption in Birmingham, Montgomery, Mobile and beyond.

Alabama

Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Adopting a Child in Alabama

If you are considering adding to your family through adoption, it is important to understand state adoption laws. This section includes the qualifications for adopting a child in Alabama, as well as other important information for adoptive parents in the Yellowhammer State.

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

Any adult person or a husband and wife jointly may adopt in Alabama.

What adoption expenses can be paid by adoptive families in Alabama?

Adoptive parents are permitted to pay maternity-connected hospital, medical and necessary living expenses during the mother’s pregnancy-related incapacity. Adoptive families may also pay for medical, legal and other professional services.

Prior to payment, the adoptive parents must file with the court a full accounting of all expenses paid in connection with the adoption. Payment may only be made with court approval or placed in an escrow account.

What are the laws to become a foster parent in Alabama?

Prospective foster parents in Alabama must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 19 years old
  • Complete criminal background checks and child abuse registry checks for all household members age 19 and older
  • Have financial and family stability
  • Be physically able to care for children
  • Provide character references
  • Complete a home safety inspection
  • Attend preparation training
  • Satisfy the home study requirements
  • Be certified in First Aid and CPR for adults, infants and children
  • If married, be married for at least one year

More information about foster care is available through the Alabama Department of Human Resources.

What are the requirements to finalize an international adoption in Alabama?

Adoptive parents may request a certificate of foreign birth for a child who was born in a foreign country, not a citizen of the United States and adopted through an Alabama court.  The certificate will be established upon receipt of an adoption decree, proof the child’s birthplace and date, and a request from the court, the adopting parents or the adopted person, if he or she is age 18 or older.

After registration, the adoption report will be sealed and filed. Any person age 19 or older who has a certificate of foreign birth from Alabama may file a written request to receive a copy of any information about the adoption.

Is it legal to use advertising or facilitators to adopt in Alabama?

In Alabama, it is illegal for any person or organization to advertise in any way that they will adopt a child, assist in the placement of a child or offer anything of value to birth parents. Legitimate medical, legal, prenatal and living expenses and other professional services for the birth mother are permitted. However, it is unlawful for any person or agency to be compensated for placing a child or arranging an adoption placement.

Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Placing a Baby for Adoption in Alabama

As an expectant mother considering adoption in Alabama, you may have questions about the rules and regulations of placing a child for adoption in your state. This section provides information about the laws that protect your rights as a birth parent throughout the adoption process.

When and how can birth parents consent to the adoption?

Consent may be given at any time. Once signed, it may be withdrawn within five days after birth or within five days of signing, whichever comes last.

A consent or relinquishment must be in writing, signed by the person consenting, and state that the parent is voluntarily giving their consent. If the mother’s consent is taken prior to the child’s birth, it must be signed or confirmed before a judge, who will explain to the consenting parent the legal effect of signing the document and the procedures for withdrawing consent.

All other pre-birth or post-birth consents must be signed before a notary public, a judge or clerk with jurisdiction over adoption proceedings, a public officer appointed by the judge to take consents, or a person appointed to take consents by an agency that is authorized to conduct home studies.

Who must consent to the adoption?

In Alabama, consent is required of:

  • The child’s mother
  • The presumed father, regardless of paternity, if:
    • He and the child’s mother are or have been married to each other and the child was 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
    • After the child’s birth, he and the child’s mother married or attempted to marry each other and he consented to be named as the child’s father on the child’s birth certificate, he is obligated to support the child, or he received the child into his home and openly claimed the child as his own
  • The agency to which the child has been relinquished
  • The putative father if he responds to notice of the adoption proceedings within 30 days

If the child’s parent is a minor, a guardian ad litem must be appointed to represent his or her interests before giving consent. If a court finds that a minor father has given implied consent to the adoption by his actions, notice and appointment of a guardian ad litem is not necessary.

A child age 14 or older must consent to the adoption unless the court finds that the child does not have the mental capacity to consent.

When is consent not needed?

Parental consent to adoption is implied by the following actions:

  • Abandonment of the child, including the failure of the father (who is aware of the pregnancy) to offer financial or emotional support for a period of six months prior to the birth
  • Leaving the child without provision for his or her identification for 30 days
  • Leaving the child with others without communication or provision for support, or not otherwise maintaining a significant parental relationship with the child for six months
  • Receiving notice of the adoption proceedings and failing to respond to the petition within 30 days

Parental consent is not required for an adoption when:

  • The parent’s rights to the child have been terminated
  • The parent has been adjudged incompetent or mentally incapable of consenting
  • The parent has relinquished the child to the Department of Human Resources or a licensed child-placing agency for adoption
  • The parent is deceased or presumed to be deceased
  • The alleged father has signed a written statement denying paternity
  • The natural father is unknown

When does the birth parents’ consent become irrevocable?

Consent is irrevocable upon signing or confirmation, except:

  • If the court finds that revocation is reasonable and in the best interests of the child within 14 days after the child’s birth or within 14 days after signing, whichever comes last
  • If the court finds that the consent was obtained by fraud or duress at any time until the final adoption decree
    • Consent may not be challenged on any ground after one year from the date of entry of the final adoption decree, except in cases where the child has been kidnapped.

Implied consent due to abandonment may not be withdrawn.

What rights does the father of the baby have in Alabama adoptions?

In Alabama:

  • An acknowledged father is a man who has established a father-child relationship
  • An adjudicated father is a man who has been adjudicated by the court to be the father of a child
  • An alleged father is a man who is alleged to be the genetic father but whose paternity has not been determined
  • A presumed father is recognized as the father of a child until that status is rebutted or confirmed in a judicial proceeding
  • A putative father is the alleged or reputed father

A man is presumed to be the natural 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 mother attempted to marry each other, but the marriage is or could be declared invalid
  • After the child’s birth, he and the mother married or attempted to marry each other, and:
    • He has acknowledged his paternity in writing and filed it with the appropriate court or the office of vital statistics
    • He consented to be named as the child’s father on the birth certificate
    • He is obligated to support the child under a written promise or court order
  • He receives the child into his home and openly claims the child as his own, or otherwise provides emotional and financial support for the child
  • He acknowledges his paternity in writing

The Department of Human Resources has established a putative father registry for any person adjudicated by an Alabama court to be the father of a child born out of wedlock; any person who files a notice of intent to claim paternity before or after the birth of a child; and any person who has filed an instrument acknowledging paternity.

A father can file a notice of declaration of legitimation in writing attested by two witnesses to recognize a non-marital child as his child capable of inheriting his estate.

A father-child relationship may be established by the following:

  • An unrebutted presumption of paternity
  • An effective acknowledgement of paternity
  • An adjudication of paternity
  • Adoption of the child by the father
  • The father’s consent to assisted reproduction by a woman that resulted in the child’s birth

Home Study and Post-Placement Requirements in Alabama

A home study is required for all prospective adoptive and foster parents in Alabama. This assessment process helps determine whether a proposed placement is in the best interests of the child to be adopted. The home study process, requirements, and other important Alabama home study information is detailed below.

What is included in the Alabama home study process?

The Alabama home study includes a criminal background check as well as an investigation into the following:

  • The suitability of each prospective adoptive parent and their home
  • Any orders, judgements or decrees affecting the child or any of the adoptive parents’ children
  • Criminal background checks
  • The costs and expenses connected with the adoption
  • Other circumstances that may be relevant to the placement of the child

The home study process consists of at least one home visit, individual interviews with the adoptive parent(s), information on the adoptive couple or person’s reasons for adopting, interviews with at least two references, and completion of adoption training.

Who is included in the home study process?

The prospective adoptive parents must be evaluated in the home study.

Who will conduct the home study?

The home study will be completed by the Department of Human Resources, a licensed child-placing agency, an individual or agency licensed by the department to perform investigations, or a licensed social worker.

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

The home study will not be approved if any adult living in the household has ever been convicted of:

  • A sex-related crime
  • Serious intentional, reckless or negligent physical injury, danger, or death of any person
  • Any crime against a child
  • A crime involving major intrusion upon property or use of a weapon to secure property
  • Arson
  • The manufacture, sale, distribution, use or possession of controlled substances or alcohol

Some exceptions can be made for convictions that occurred in the past when there is credible documentation of rehabilitation. No exceptions will be made for criminal convictions involving sex-related crimes against a child or serious physical injury or death of a child.

When should the home study be completed? When must the home study be renewed?

The pre-placement investigation must be completed before a child can be placed in the prospective adoptive home. The home study must have been completed within 24 months of the placement of the child.

What is a post-placement study in the adoption process? What are the post-placement study requirements for Alabama?

After a child has been placed in the home, a post-placement investigation must be conducted as soon as possible, within 45 days after the placement. During the post-placement study, an investigator must observe the child and interview the adoptive parent in their home to verify all allegations of the adoption petition.

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

Unless otherwise required by the court, an investigation will not be required when the prospective adoptive parent is a stepparent, grandfather, grandmother, great-grandfather, great-grandmother, great-uncle, great-aunt, brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister, aunt or uncle.

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

To adopt a child from another state, the person or agency bringing the child into Alabama must first obtain consent from the department. The department can designate an agency in the other state to interview the child’s parents to obtain social, background and medical information on the child. The department can make a thorough investigation of the adoptive parents and their home to ensure they are fit to care for the child.

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

The department will decide whether the foster home will be approved as the child’s adoptive home based on the following factors:

  • The child’s attachment to the foster parents
  • The length of time the child has been in the home
  • The age of the child in relation to the age of the foster parents
  • The foster parents’ health and income
  • The birth family’s involvement
  • The appropriateness of the foster home placement

To start the home study process, contact one of these trusted Alabama home study providers:

  • Kathie L. Butler, LCSW, PIP
    256-534-6091
    Kathie L. Butler, LCSW, PIP is a licensed certified social worker who provides domestic and international adoption home studies for private and agency adoptions, as well as adoption services and child custody evaluations.
  • Alabama Social Work Services
    205-535-2161
    Tyler Simmons, LCSW, PIP is a licensed certified social worker who provides adoption home studies, adoption services and child custody evaluations.
  • Conner Adoption Services
    205-310-0581
    Conner Adoption Services provides interstate, domestic and international adoption home studies and post-placement investigations for the entire state of Alabama.

Alabama Adoption Professionals

For more information about adoption in Alabama or to begin the adoption process, contact one of these local adoption professionals:

For more information about foster care in Alabama, visit the Department of Human Resources.

Things to do in Alabama

Alabama offers its visitors natural beauty and fascinating history. Here are a few highlights to explore in Alabama as you visit prospective birth parents or wait for ICPC approval:

Find more information about traveling to Alabama at http://alabama.travel/.