How to Adopt in Louisiana
If you are thinking about starting the adoption process in Louisiana — either as a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy or as a hopeful parent looking to adopt a child — you likely have questions about adoption laws, rules and qualifications. The following Louisiana adoption information can help answer important adoption questions for women and couples living in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and anywhere else in Louisiana.
Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Adopting a Child in LouisianaEach state has laws regulating who can adopt and how the adoption process works. In this section, find information about the Louisiana adoption process, adoption laws for prospective parents, and more.
What are the laws and qualifications for adopting a child in Louisiana?Single adults and married couples jointly may adopt in Louisiana.
What adoption expenses can be paid by adoptive families in Louisiana?Adoptive parents may pay reasonable expenses for the following:
- Medical expenses for the birth mother and the child
- Counseling services for a reasonable time before and after placement
- Reasonable home study expenses
- Reasonable living expenses for the birth mother before the birth of the child and up to 45 days after the child’s birth
- Reasonable attorney fees, court costs and other expenses incurred on behalf of a birth parent
- Any other specific service or fee the court finds reasonable and necessary
What are the laws to become a foster parent in Louisiana?Prospective foster parents in Louisiana must meet the following requirements:
- Have adequate bedroom space for a child
- Have no more than five children under the age of 18
- Complete a home safety inspection and have working smoke detectors and a fire extinguisher
- Be healthy and emotionally stable enough to care for children; provide medical statements completed by a physician indicating that everyone in the home is free of communicable diseases
- Complete a review of prior child protection cases
- Provide proof of income and have enough income to meet the family’s needs
- Complete a criminal background check
What are the requirements to finalize an international adoption in Louisiana?Adoptive parents must file a petition with the court for the foreign adoption to be recognized. The petition must be accompanied by a certification for adoption, a certified copy of the documentation of orphan status, documentary proof of citizenship status, a copy of the child’s immigrant visa or resident alien card, the original or certified copy of a valid foreign adoption decree and birth certificate with a notarized translation, and an affidavit of fees and expenses. The court will issue a judgement recognizing the foreign adoption and rendering a final adoption decree upon finding that:
- The foreign adoption decree and notarized transcript has been filed and is determined to be granted in accordance with the laws of the foreign country
- The child qualified as a foreign orphan and is in the United States in compliance with federal regulations
- The child is a permanent resident or naturalized citizen of the United States
- The parents can care for the child
Is it legal to use advertising or facilitators to adopt in Louisiana?In Louisiana, only licensed child-placing agencies and Louisiana-based crisis pregnancy centers can legally advertise that it will adopt or assist in the adoption of children. The payment or receipt of anything of value for the assistance of a party to an act of voluntary consent to adoption is prohibited. No payments can be made in an adoptive placement except for reasonable medical, administrative, living or other expenses.
Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Placing a Baby for Adoption in LouisianaIf you are considering adoption for your child, you likely have several questions about the rules and regulations of placing a baby for adoption in Louisiana. The following will help answer some of your questions about Louisiana adoption law.
When and how can birth parents consent to the adoption?In an agency adoption, consent can be executed three days after birth. In a private adoption, consent can be executed five days after birth. A father may consent any time before or after the birth, but his consent is revocable until the fifth day after the child’s birth. An alleged or adjudicated father may consent any time prior to or after birth, and his consent will be irrevocable upon execution. Before consenting to adoption, the parent must participate in at least two counseling sessions with a licensed social worker, psychologist, psychiatrist, or a counselor employed by a licensed child-placing agency. In order to consent, the parent must be mentally capable of giving consent. If the parent is a minor, he or she must be joined in the act of surrender by the parents or tutor or have the consent of the court, except when surrendering to an agency. The parent must be informed that consent is irrevocable and must give their consent freely and voluntarily, waiving notice of any subsequent adoption proceedings. The parent must be informed of the voluntary registration law for contact between the parents and the surrendered child upon the child reaching the age of majority.
Who must consent to the adoption?In Louisiana, consent is required of the child’s mother and his or her father, regardless of actual paternity, if he is married to the child’s mother or is presumed to be the father in accordance with the law. The alleged father must consent if he has established his parental rights in accordance with the law. The biological father must consent if his paternity has been determined by a judgement of filiation and he has established his parental rights. If the parent giving consent is a minor, his or her parents or tutor must join in the surrender unless he or she has been judicially emancipated or emancipated by marriage.
When does the birth parents’ consent become irrevocable?Consent is irrevocable upon execution and acceptance by the court. No surrender may be annulled except upon proof of fraud or duress.
What rights does the father of the baby have in Louisiana adoptions?Louisiana defines a “parent” as any living person is presumed to be a parent or the biological or adoptive mother or father of a child. Louisiana has established a putative father registry that records the names and addresses of any person adjudicated by a Louisiana court to be the father of a child, any person adjudicated by a court of another state to be the father of a child born out of wedlock, and any person who has filed with the registry an acknowledgment of paternity. A mother and alleged father may file an acknowledgement of paternity. Prior to doing so, the notary will inform them that either party has the right to request a genetic test to determine the alleged father’s paternity. The alleged father has the right to consult an attorney before signing the acknowledgement. If the alleged father does not acknowledge the child, the mother may file a paternity suit to establish paternity. After the father signs the acknowledgment, he has the right to pursue visitation with the child and petition for custody. He may be obligated to provide support for the child, and the child will have inheritance rights and any rights afforded to children born in wedlock.
Home Study and Post-Placement Requirements in LouisianaBefore an adoptive or foster parent may receive a placement in Louisiana, they must complete the Louisiana home study. The home study evaluates prospective parents and ensures they are able to provide a safe, stable home to a child.
What is included in the Louisiana home study process?The Louisiana home study includes state and national criminal background checks for each member of the household, as well as central registry checks for each adult household member. The study will also include the following elements:
- At least two visits in the home, and a third visit in the home or office
- Separate in-person interviews with each member of the household and interviews with any adult children of the adoptive parents who do not live in the home
- Motivation for adoption
- History of previous adoption applications
- Background and social information for all members of the household (family background, customs, relationships, religious affiliation, attitude toward the adoption placement, disciplinary beliefs, etc.)
Who is included in the Louisiana home study process?The adoptive parents and all members of the household must be included in the home study.
Who will conduct the home study?The department is responsible for ensuring the accuracy and thoroughness of the home study, but it may outsource the performance of the investigation to a licensed private adoption agency.
On what grounds will the home study not be approved in Louisiana?The home study will not be approved if any member of the household is listed on the state central registry with a valid finding of child abuse or neglect. A home will be decertified if the family does not meet the general requirements for an adoptive home, the placement is not in the best interests of a child, sexual abuse or exploitation by the parent or other resident of the home is substantiated, substantiated child abuse or neglect by a household resident is substantiated and serious in nature, a serious physical or mental illness precludes the parents from providing adequate care to the child, or the child has not been placed in the home within the preceding two years.
When should the home study be completed? When must the home study be renewed?The home study must be completed prior to an adoptive placement in the home.
What is a post-placement study in the adoption process? What are the post-placement study requirements for Louisiana?The agency placing a child will provide supervision for the placement until the final adoption decree has been granted. The child and family will be visited within three weeks of placement and once every two months thereafter. A visit must take place within 30 days prior to the final adoption decree. At least two of these visits must be in the adoptive parents’ home and must include both adoptive parents (if applicable) as well as all other members of the household. The agency will assist the family or refer the family to additional resources if any problems arise that need to be addressed. Written reports of the visits will be dated, sent to the department and placed in the records of the child and adoptive parents.
What are the home study requirements to adopt a child from another state?Any placement of a child outside of Louisiana is subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC). The child will not be sent to the adoptive parents’ state until that state’s authorities have notified the child-placing agency, in writing, that the placement does not appear to be contrary to the interests of the child.
What are the pre-placement requirements to adopt a child that is currently in my care?Foster parents will receive first consideration when their foster child becomes available for adoption, assuming a relative placement is not available. For more information about foster care and foster-to-adopt placements, visit the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services. To begin the home study process, contact a trusted local home study provider:
- Beacon House Adoption Services 888-987-6300 Beacon House Adoption Services is a licensed 501c3 nonprofit adoption agency that offers domestic adoption home study services.
- Adoption Home Studies, Inc. 985-264-8982 Mary Marrs is a licensed clinical social worker in the state of Louisiana offering adoption home studies and post-placement services.
- Open Arms Adoption Services 318-798-7664 Open Arms Adoption Services offers domestic and international adoption home studies, home study updates and post-placement supervision.
Louisiana Adoption ProfessionalsWhen you are ready to begin your adoption journey, your adoption professional can help guide you through the process. These licensed professionals are experienced in completing local adoptions and can help ensure that you meet all Louisiana legal and home study requirements:
- Louisiana Department of Children & Family Services
- Louisiana Foster & Adoptive Parent Association
- Crossroads NOLA
- Louisiana Heart Gallery
Things to do in LouisianaBetween visits with prospective birth parents and waiting for ICPC clearances, you may find yourself in the Pelican State at some point in your adoption journey. Here are a few fun ways to spend your time in Louisiana:
- The National WWII Museum (New Orleans)
- Jackson Square (New Orleans)
- Preservation Hall (New Orleans)
- Houmas House Plantation and Gardens (Darrow)
- Lake Martin (Breaux Bridge)
- Mike the Tiger Habitat (Baton Rouge)