If you live in the Pine Tree State and are considering adoption, either as an expectant mother or prospective adoptive parents, you are likely wondering the same thing: how does adoption work in Maine?
The following guide provides all the Maine adoption information you need, from the qualifications for adoptive parents to the rules and regulations for placing a child for adoption in Portland, Lewiston, Bangor and beyond.
Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Adopting a Child in Maine
There are many state laws and regulations in place to protect growing families and prospective birth parents throughout the adoption process. If you are considering adopting a child in Maine, it is important to understand adoption qualifications and processes in your state. Below, find the information you need to adopt a child in Maine.
What are the laws and qualifications for adopting a child in Maine?
Any unmarried person or husband and wife jointly may adopt. Residents and nonresidents may adopt in Maine.
What adoption expenses can be paid by adoptive families in Maine?
Adoptive parents may pay the following expenses in connection with an adoption:
- The actual costs of legal services
- Prenatal and postnatal counseling expenses for the birth mother
- Medical expenses for the birth mother
- Necessary transportation expenses to obtain adoption and pregnancy-related services
- Foster care expenses for the child, if applicable
- Necessary living expenses for the mother and child
- Legal and counseling expenses for the birth father
- Fees to a licensed child-placing agency providing adoption services
The adoptive family must file a full accounting of all disbursements of anything of value made in connection with the adoption before the final adoption decree will be granted.
What are the laws to become a foster parent in Maine?
In Maine, prospective foster parents should meet the following requirements:
- Be at least 21 years old
- Be physically and mentally healthy enough to care for a child
- Provide three references from non-relatives
- Complete fingerprint-based background checks and a criminal history background check
- Complete home visits with a social worker
- Pass a home safety inspection
- Meet state water standards
- Have a telephone where you live
What are the requirements to finalize an international adoption in Maine?
If an adoption has been finalized in a foreign country and the adoptive parents are seeking a Maine adoption to give recognition to the foreign adoption, a judge may enter an adoption decree based solely upon a judgment of adoption in a foreign country and may order a name change if requested by the adoptive parents.
Is it legal to use advertising or facilitators to adopt in Maine?
Advertising for adoption services or soliciting adoptions is prohibited, except for licensed child-placing agencies that advertise in accordance with department rules. The use of facilitators is not addressed in Maine statutes.
Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Placing a Baby for Adoption in Maine
To start the adoption process as a prospective birth parent, it can be helpful to understand state laws and your rights throughout the process. If you are living in Maine and considering an adoption plan for your baby, this section will help answer your questions about the adoption process, birth father rights, consent and more.
When and how can birth parents consent to the adoption?
Consent can be executed any time after the child’s birth. An adoption petition must be pending before consent can be given. Consent must be executed in the presence of a judge.
The court will approve the consent when the following conditions are met:
- A licensed child-placing agency or the department of Health and Human Services certifies that counseling was provided or was offered and refused
- The court has explained the individual’s parental rights and responsibilities, the effects of the consent, the right to revocation within three days, and the existence of the adoption registry
- The court determines that consent has been duly executed and was given freely
- At least three days have elapsed since the parent signed the consent and he or she has not withdrawn or revoked the consent
Who must consent to the adoption?
Written consent to the adoption must be provided by each living parent, the person or agency having legal custody or guardianship of the child, or a guardian appointed by the court when the child has no living parent, guardian, or legal custodian who may consent. If the child to be adopted is age 14 or older, he or she must give written consent to the adoption.
When is consent not needed?
Consent is not required of the following:
- A putative father or legal father who is not the biological father, if:
- He received notice and failed to respond to the notice within the required timeframe
- Waived his right to notice
- Failed to meet certain standards
- Has no parental rights regarding the child under the laws of the foreign jurisdiction where the child was born
- A parent whose rights have been terminated
- A parent who executed a surrender and release
- A parent whose parental rights have been transferred to a public agency or duly licensed private agency
- The parent of an adult who is being adopted
When does the birth parents’ consent become irrevocable?
Consent is final three days after it is executed. If the adoption petition is withdrawn or dismissed, or if the adoption is not finalized within 18 months of executing consent, a review must be held.
What rights does the father of the baby have in Maine adoptions?
If a prospective birth mother wants to consent to the adoption of her child and the putative father has not consented or waived his right to receive notice, the mother must file an affidavit of paternity with the court. The judge will give notice of the adoption proceedings to the putative father, and he will have 20 days to petition the court to grant him parental rights. The petition must include an allegation that he is in fact the biological father of the child. If, after a hearing, the judge determines that he is the biological father and he is willing and able to take responsibility for the child, and that it is in the child’s best interests, the judge will declare him the child’s legal parent. Alternatively, a signed voluntary acknowledgment of paternity is a legal finding of paternity.
Home Study and Post-Placement Requirements in Maine
The home study is one of the most important steps on any journey to becoming an adoptive family. Each state has different home study processes, qualifications and requirements to ensure an adoptive home is safe and suitable for a child.
The following information will help you understand Maine home study requirements and help you prepare your home and family for the process.
What is included in the Maine home study process?
The Maine home study includes an investigation to determine whether the home is suitable for the child. A background check must include a screening for child abuse cases in the records of the department, as well as criminal record information obtained from the state and the FBI. Each prospective parent must submit to have their fingerprints taken.
Who is included in the home study process?
A background check will be ordered for each prospective adoptive parent.
Who will conduct the home study?
The home study will be completed by the department or a licensed child-placing agency.
On what grounds will the home study not be approved in Maine?
The home study may not be approved if the prospective adoptive parent has been convicted of a child-related sexual offense or has been adjudicated of sexually abusing a minor.
When should the home study be completed?
The home study should be completed within 60 days of filing an adoption petition.
What are the post-placement study requirements for Maine adoptions?
The post-placement study is not addressed in Maine statutes.
What are the home study requirements for stepparent or relative adoptions in Maine?
If the prospective adoptive parent is a blood relative of the child, the court may waive the home study requirement.
What are the requirements to adopt a child that is currently in my care?
Foster-to-adopt placements are not addressed in Maine statutes.
To start the home study process, contact one of these trusted Maine home study providers:
- Acadia Adoption Center
Acadia Adoption Center is a licensed adoption agency assisting families with both international and domestic home studies and adoptions.
- Families and Children Together
FACT provides home studies and post-placement services for families working with an out-of-state agency or adopting a child from Maine’s child welfare system.
- Adoption Partners of Maine
Adoption Partners offers home study services to families entering its infant placement program and those contracted with another placing agency.
Maine Adoption Professionals
To start the adoption process or learn more about adoption in Maine, contact an adoption professional serving your area:
- American Adoptions
- The Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderers
- Good Samaritan Agency
- Connections Adoption Services
- A Full Circle Adoptions
For more information about foster care in Maine, visit Child and Family Services.
Things to do in Maine
If your adoption journey leads you to meet prospective birth parents or wait for ICPC approval in the Pine Tree State, be sure to take advantage of all Maine has to offer:
- Marginal Way (Ogunquit)
- Mount Desert Island (Bar Harbor)
- Cadillac Mountain (Arcadia National Park)
- Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens (Boothbay)
- Portland Head Light (Cape Elizabeth)
Find more information about traveling to Maine at http://visitmaine.com/.