As The First State, Delaware embodies the idea of tradition – and that includes the tradition of building strong, happy families. For many people, that means pursuing adoption, and Delaware has laws, regulations, and resources to help.
If you live in Delaware and are considering adoption, either as a pregnant mother or a hopeful adoptive family, the following information will provide you with everything you need to know.
Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Adopting a Child in Delaware
Families hoping to adopt a child must abide by their State’s specific regulations. In these sections, you will find information on the most important laws for adoptive families in Delaware.
What are the laws and qualifications for adopting a child in Delaware?
In Delaware, any married couple or unmarried individual may adopt. This includes individuals who are divorced or legally separated.
What adoption expenses can be paid by adoptive families in Delaware?
Delaware only allows adoptive families to pay legal fees and court costs. Payments of any other type are not permitted.
What are the laws to become a foster parent in Delaware?
In order to become a foster parent in Delaware, you must:
- Be at least 21 years of age
- Pass a background check
- Have approved home, health, and safety inspections
- Attend 27 hours of foster parent training
- Provide references
For more information on becoming a foster parent in your state, visit the Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families.
What are the requirements to finalize an international adoption in Delaware?
If your adoption was properly finalized in the country where you adopted, you are not required to finalize it in Delaware. However, you may still complete a re-adoption if you would like to obtain documents in English or apply for a U.S. birth certificate.
To pursue a re-adoption, you must file a decree and affidavit with the family court in your county. The court will review these documents and, if everything is approved, issue an order confirming the validity of the adoption.
Is it legal to use advertising or facilitators to adopt in Delaware?
The only entities permitted to advertise in Delaware are licensed adoption agencies and the Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families.
Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Placing a Baby for Adoption in Delaware
Women who place their babies for adoption in Delaware are protected by a number of state-regulated adoption statutes. Here, you can find some of the laws that pertain to birth parents pursuing adoption in Delaware.
When and how can birth parents consent to the adoption?
Delaware only allows a birth mother to consent to an adoption after the child has been born. This gives you time before you make a final, legally binding decision.
In order to consent to adoption, you must sign the necessary documents in the presence of someone qualified to take consents, such as a judge or an agency representative.
Who must consent to the adoption?
In order for an adoption to be legally valid in Delaware, the following parties must give consent:
- The department or adoption authority involved in the adoption
- The birth mother
- The birth father/any presumed father of the child
- A child age 14 or older
When is parental consent not needed in Delaware adoptions?
Consent will not be required of individuals in the following cases:
- Adoption has been determined by the court to be in the child’s best interests
- The parent has abandoned the child
- The parent’s mental competency prevents him or her from giving consent
- The parent has committed a crime that harmed or endangered a child
- The parent cannot or has not provided sufficiently for the child
- The parent’s rights of a sibling have been involuntarily terminated
- A child has suffered a serious injury or illness due to reckless behavior or negligence on the parent’s end
When does the birth parents’ consent become irrevocable?
An individual may file for revocation of consent within 60 days of an adoption, in which case the court will review your case and make a ruling. After 60 days, consent is completely irrevocable.
What rights does the father of the baby have in Delaware adoptions?
In Delaware, an acknowledged father is a man who has an established parental relationship with the child. An adjudicated father is a man who has been determined by a court of law to be the father of a child.
A presumed father is a man who:
- Was married to the mother during or within 300 days of the child’s birth
- Had attempted to marry the mother at the time of the child’s birth
- Married the mother after the child was born, agreed to be named as the father on the birth certificate, and promised on record to support the child
- Lived in the same household as the child for the first 2 years of his/her life and supported the child
A presumed or alleged father of a child may file with a paternity registry in the Office of Vital Statistics. This will allow him to be informed if a child he may have fathered is to be placed for adoption. An acknowledged or adjudicated father is not required to register.
If the child is at least one year old, all alleged fathers (registered or not) will be notified of an adoption.
Home Study and Post-Placement Requirements in Delaware
The home study is one of the most important landmarks for an adoptive family, as it indicates that you are officially cleared to adopt a child. Read the sections below to learn about the home study requirements in Delaware.
What is included in the Delaware home study process?
The Delaware home study will contain the following elements:
- Fingerprint-based background checks
- Verification of plans for work and childcare
- A home inspection
- A meeting with each member of the household
Who is included in the home study process?
In Delaware, the adoptive parents and any other members of the household must be studied.
Who will conduct the home study?
Home studies must be conducted by an adoption agency or the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families.
On what grounds will the home study not be approved in Delaware?
Approval for a home study may be withheld if there is found to be a conviction or significant evidence of criminal activity against a child or adult. An agency may make an exception if there is additional, substantial evidence that the wellbeing of the adopted child would not be jeopardized.
When should the home study be completed? When must the home study be renewed?
A home study must be completed before a family receives placement of a child, and it is valid for one year.
What is a post-placement study in the adoption process? What are the post-placement study requirements for Delaware?
A post-placement study is a series of visits by a home study provider after placement to ensure that the family and the baby are adjusting well. In Delaware, the provider will visit within the first four weeks and then make at least two additional visits. Each member of the household must be interviewed at least once.
What are the home study requirements for stepparent or relative adoptions in Delaware?
Home study and post-placement supervision will not be required in the event of stepparent or blood relative adoptions.
What are the home study requirements to adopt a child from another state?
Interstate adoptions must abide by the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC).
What are the requirements to adopt a child that is currently in my care?
Foster care adoption is not addressed in Delaware statutes. If you are a foster parent in Delaware and hoping to adopt a child in your care, speak to your foster care professional.
If you would like to begin the home study process, here are some licensed professionals in the state of Delaware:
- Adoptions from the Heart
AFTH is licensed in several states, including Delaware, to provide home studies and other adoption services to families and birth mothers.
- Child and Home Study Associates
Families in Delaware and beyond can complete their domestic or international adoption home studies with CHSA, as well as receive counseling.
- Madison Adoption Associates
This agency works in domestic, international, and foster care adoption, and they are licensed in Delaware to complete your home study and post-placement assessments.
Delaware Adoption Professionals
Your adoption professional will be your partner in the process. Many people choose to work with an agency because they provide all of the adoption services you need in one place. If you are adopting or placing a baby for adoption in Delaware, you can contact one of these state-licensed professionals:
- American Adoptions
- Madison Adoption Associates
- Adoptions from the Heart
- Law Offices of Deborah E. Spivak
<3>Things to do in Delaware
If you are adopting in Delaware for another state, you might find yourself there while you are visiting a birth mother or waiting for ICPC clearance. While you are there, here are just a few of the places you can visit: