Whether you are hoping to add to your family or are considering an adoption plan for your baby, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about adoption in the Bay State. Below, find Massachusetts adoption and foster care resources, agencies and information about how to adopt in Boston, Worcester, Springfield and beyond.
Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Adopting a Child in Massachusetts
Adoption processes and qualifications are determined by state laws. If you are interested in adopting a child in Massachusetts, the following guidelines will help you better understand the rules and regulations for adoption in your state.
What are the laws and qualifications for adopting a child in Massachusetts?
Any adult or married couple jointly may adopt. A married individual may be able to adopt without his or her spouse when certain provisions are met.
What adoption expenses can be paid by adoptive families in Massachusetts?
Allowable adoption expenses are not addressed in Massachusetts statutes. However, only the Department of Social Services and other authorized agents may advertise or accept payment for coordinating an adoption.
What are the laws to become a foster parent in Massachusetts?
Anyone interested in foster care in Massachusetts must complete a home study and a 10-week Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting (MAPP) training class. More information is available through the Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange.
What are the requirements to finalize an international adoption in Massachusetts?
Massachusetts gives full effect and recognition to intercountry adoptions completed in compliance with U.S. laws and the laws of the country that granted the adoption as it relates to inheritance matters.
To apply for a U.S. birth certificate, a Massachusetts resident who adopts a child from another country must present an original birth certificate or other written evidence of the birth and a certified adoption decree to the town clerk.
Is it legal to use advertising or facilitators to adopt in Massachusetts?
Massachusetts prohibits advertising by any person or entity other than the state social services department or a licensed agency. Children may only be placed by licensed agencies.
Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Placing a Baby for Adoption in Massachusetts
As a prospective birth parent, you likely have questions about the rules and regulations of placing a baby for adoption in Massachusetts. The following will help answer some of your questions about Massachusetts adoption laws.
When and how can birth parents consent to the adoption?
In Massachusetts, written consent must be executed at least four days after the child is born. Consent must be executed before a notary public and at least two competent witnesses, one of whom is selected by the consenting parent.
If the child is born out of wedlock and no person has acknowledged paternity or has been adjudicated the father by the court, the mother may provide a sworn written statement before the notary and in the presence of two witnesses that identifies the child’s father and his address. This statement will be used to notify the man of the status of the child.
Who must consent to the adoption?
In Massachusetts, consent must be given by the child’s surviving lawful parents. If the child is born out of wedlock, consent is required from the mother only. In an older child adoption, the child must consent if he or she is at least 12 years old. If the person being adopted is married, his or her spouse must also consent to the adoption.
When is consent not needed?
In Massachusetts, parental consent is not required if the person to be adopted is at least 18 years old or if the court finds that the adoption is in the best interested of the child. The court may find that a parent is unfit and that an adoption may proceed without their consent if:
- The child was abandoned
- The child or another child was abused or neglected
- The child has been residing out of the home for at least six months and the parents have not maintained meaningful contact
- The child is at least 4 years old, has been in the department’s custody for 12 of the past 15 months and cannot be returned home
- The child is younger than 4, has been in the department’s custody for six of the past 12 months and cannot be returned home
- The parent fails to properly care for the child
- The child has formed a strong, positive bond with another caregiver in the parent’s absence
- The parent has not remedied conditions that create a risk of harm to the child
- The parent has failed to visit and support a child not in their custody
- The parent suffers from alcohol or drug addiction, mental deficiency or mental illness and is unlikely to provide acceptable care
- The parent has been convicted of a felony and will be unable to provide a stable home for years
- The parent has displayed a prior pattern of neglect, misconduct or felony assault that resulted in serious injury to the child
When does the birth parents’ consent become irrevocable?
Consent is irrevocable upon signing.
What rights does the father of the baby have in Massachusetts adoptions?
In Massachusetts, a man is presumed to be a child’s father, and therefore has parental rights, if:
- He is or was married to the child’s mother and the child is/was born during the marriage or within 300 days of the end of the marriage
- He and the child’s mother attempted to legally marry each other before the child’s birth, but the marriage is or could be declared invalid, and the child is born during the marriage or within 300 days of the end of the marriage
- He married or attempted to marry the child’s mother after the child’s birth and made a voluntary written agreement to support the child or engaged in any other conduct that could be construed as an acknowledgment of paternity
- He received the child into his home and openly claimed the child as his own
- He acknowledged paternity in a parental responsibility claim and the mother, after receiving notice of his claim, has failed to object within a reasonable amount of time
A man may establish paternity by filing a voluntary acknowledgement of parentage jointly with the child’s mother. A putative father can establish the right to receive notice of adoption proceedings by filing a parental responsibility claim. Filing such a claim will constitute an acknowledgement and admission of paternity.
Home Study and Post-Placement Requirements in Massachusetts
Before an adoption or foster care placement can be made in Massachusetts, the prospective parents must complete an approved home study. The home study assesses parents’ ability to provide a stable, nurturing home to a child. Below, find more information about what to expect throughout the Massachusetts home study process.
What is included in the Massachusetts home study process?
The home study will include at least one visit to the prospective adoptive parent’s home and at least one interview with the applicants. All other members of the household will also be interviewed as appropriate to their age. During these meetings, the following information will be collected and documented:
- The parents’ motivation for adoption, their emotional stability and compatibility and their attitude toward accepting an adopted child
- Social, education and health histories and a written statement from a licensed physician for each member of the household
- Family composition, including pets
- A description of the home and community
- Parenting ability, including discipline, and the ability to meet the child’s needs
- The family’s attitude toward the child’s birth parents
- Age, sex, abilities, behavior and other characteristics of children desired and children the parents are not willing to adopt
- Birth certificates, marriage certificates and divorce decrees
- The family’s financial circumstances
- At least three references
- Criminal records checks for any household member age 14 or older
Who is included in the home study process?
The Massachusetts home study includes the adoptive parents and all household members age 14 or older.
Who will conduct the home study?
The home study must be performed by a qualified social worker.
What are the qualifications to complete a home study?
Any adult or married couple who is eligible to adopt may complete the home study. The applicants’ home must be safe, clean and able to accommodate all members of the family, including the child or children to be adopted. The home needs to have adequate lighting, ventilation, water supply, plumbing, electricity and heat, as well as working smoke detectors. Each child must have a separate bed and adequate storage space for personal belongings. If the house uses well water, water tests must be performed.
On what grounds will the home study not be approved in Massachusetts?
In order for the home study to be approved in Massachusetts, the agency must determine that each applicant and adult member of the household is able to provide for the safety and well-being of children. The agency will consider the following to determine whether the applicant’s home poses an unacceptable risk to the child’s safety and well-being:
- Previous conduct that resulted in a child being adjudicated in need of care and protection
- Use of alcohol or drugs that may impair the ability to properly care for a child
- Arrests, charges or pending criminal charges of any offense involving sexual or physical abuse, any offense involving children and violent or drug-related crimes
- Restraining orders, violations of restraining orders and other arrests, pending charges or findings of abuse of adult or child family members
When should the home study be completed? When must the home study be renewed?
Adoptive applicants should be evaluated promptly, and the agency will notify each prospective adoptive parent of the results of the assessment within one month of the last pre-placement visit.
If a child is not placed with the prospective parents within 12 months of approval, the agency may perform a limited assessment, which reviews previous assessments and verifies that the information is still current.
What are the post-placement study requirements for Massachusetts?
An assigned social worker will provide services to the adoptive family after placement until the adoption is finalized. The social worker will make monthly supervisory contacts with the family starting within two weeks of placement and continuing until the final adoption decree is issued. This contact must be face-to-face at least every other month, with at least two visits to the home with the child and parents.
During the supervisory period, the social worker will inform the adoptive parents of the finalization process and any postponements or needed actions, provide updated medical and psychological information regarding the birth family, assist the family in obtaining any necessary services and more.
What are the home study requirements for stepparent or relative adoptions in Massachusetts?
In a kinship placement, criminal records checks must be performed, and the Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner for Field Operations and General Counsel must determine that the placement is in the best interests of the child.
What are the home study requirements to adopt a child from another state?
Any interstate adoption placement is subject to the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC), an agreement between all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands that regulates adoption placements. No child will be placed outside of Massachusetts unless the home is approved and supervised by a legally authorized or licensed agency.
What are the pre-placement requirements to adopt a child that is currently in my care?
When a foster child is legally freed for adoption, the foster parents will be notified and will receive first consideration as prospective adoptive parents if the child has been in their care for at least six months. The foster parents must notify the agency of their desire to adopt within two weeks of receiving notice that the child is available for adoption.
To begin the home study process in Massachusetts, contact one of these trusted home study providers in your state:
- Adoption Resources
Adoption Resources is a licensed, nonprofit, non-sectarian adoption agency that is licensed in Massachusetts to provide a full range of professional services, including preparation of the adoption home study and post-placement services.
- Adoption Resource Associates
Adoption Resource Associates (ARA) is a licensed nonprofit adoption agency assisting families with both international and domestic home studies and adoptions.
- Adoption Options (MA)
Adoption Options is the nonprofit, nonsectarian adoption program of Jewish Family Service providing affordable adoption services to families in southeastern New England.
Visit 1800HomeStudy.com to learn more about Massachusetts home study providers.
Massachusetts Adoption Professionals
Whether you are an expectant mother making an adoption plan or hopeful parents considering adoption, your adoption professional can help guide you through the process and offer more information about adoption in Massachusetts. These adoption professionals are experienced in completing Massachusetts adoptions and can help you reach your adoption goals:
- American Adoptions
- Bright Futures Adoption Center
- The Home for Little Wanderers
- Alliance for Children
- Adoption Choices
- Adoptions with Love
For more information about foster care and foster-to-adopt in Massachusetts, visit the Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange.
Things to do in Massachusetts
If you find yourself spending some time in the Bay State, whether you are waiting for ICPC clearances so you can return to your home state, or you are visiting a prospective birth mother in her home state of Massachusetts, here are a few fun things you can enjoy during your stay:
- Fenway Park (Boston)
- Museum of Fine Arts (Boston)
- Freedom Trail (Boston)
- Tanglewood (Lenox)
- Norman Rockwell Museum (Stockbridge)
- The Clark Art Institute (Williamstown)
- Whaling Museum (Nantucket)
- Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum (Boston)
- Cape Cod National Seashore (Cape Code)
For more information about traveling to Massachusetts, visit http://www.massvacation.com/.