From Jackson to Gulfport, Southaven to Hattiesburg and everywhere in between, hundreds of families have been completed through adoption in Mississippi. Whether you are looking to adopt a child or considering adoption for your baby, this guide outlines the rules and qualifications for adopting a child in Mississippi, as well as other helpful state adoption information.
Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Adopting a Child in Mississippi
Like every state, Mississippi has laws regarding who can adopt and how they can adopt. If you are interested in adopting a child in Mississippi, the following information will help you better understand the adoption process, laws and qualifications in your state.
What are the laws and qualifications for adopting a child in Mississippi?
Unmarried adults and married people jointly with their spouse may adopt in Mississippi. Adoptive parents must be state residents for six consecutive months immediately prior to the adoption.
What adoption expenses can be paid by adoptive families in Mississippi?
In Mississippi, adoptive parents may pay legal fees approved by the court, attorney fees, reasonable and actual medical and hospital expenses, the mother’s living expenses and counseling expenses for the birth parents and/or child. Adoptive families will also pay a fee for the court-ordered home study.
What are the laws to become a foster parent in Mississippi?
Prospective foster parents in Mississippi must currently reside in the state, be between 21 and 65 years old, complete at least 15 hours of pre-service training for a child with special needs and complete the Mississippi home study.
What are the requirements to finalize an international adoption in Mississippi?
Upon receipt of a certified copy of the final adoption decree, the Director of the Bureau of Vital Statistics will prepare and record a birth certificate disclosing the child’s new name, race, sex, date and place of birth, and the names, race, ages, places of birth and occupation of the adoptive parents. The certificate will have the appearance and indicia for a “revised” certificate issued to a child born in Mississippi.
Is it legal to use advertising or facilitators to adopt in Mississippi?
Child-placing agencies may not advertise to birth mothers in Mississippi without a valid and current license. No person or organization may engage in child-placing or solicit money for child-placing without a valid license. Attorneys, physicians and others may assist a parent in identifying or locating prospective adoptive parents, but may not charge a fee or exchange of value of any kind for this service. Payment of reasonable medical, legal and other service fees are permitted.
Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Placing a Baby for Adoption in Mississippi
As a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy, you likely have many questions about the rules and regulations of placing a baby for adoption in Mississippi. The following information will help answer some of your questions about adoption laws in the Magnolia State.
When and how can birth parents consent to the adoption?
Consent can be executed 72 hours after the child’s birth. Consenting parents may file consent to the proposed adoption in the petition.
Who must consent to the adoption?
Consent is required of the parents or any two adult kin of the child within the third degree if both parents are dead. If the child has been abandoned, the guardian ad litem must consent to adoption. The person having physical custody of the child, aside from a child’s foster parents, must consent. The agent of the county department of human services that placed a child in foster care may consent to the adoption. If the child being adopted is at least 14 years old, he or she must consent to the adoption.
When is consent not needed?
For children born out of wedlock, the father does not have the right to object to an adoption unless he has demonstrated within 30 days after the child’s birth a full commitment to the responsibilities of parenthood.
Adoption may be allowed regardless of a parent’s objection when the parent:
- Has abused the child
- Has not consistently met the child’s needs for food, clothing, appropriate shelter and treatment
- Suffers from a medical or emotional illness, mental deficiency, behavior or conduct disorder, severe physical disability, substance abuse or chemical dependency that makes him or her unable or unwilling to provide an adequate permanent home for the child
- Has a history that would pose a risk of substantial harm to the child’s physical, mental or emotional health
- Has engaged in acts permitting termination of parental rights
When does the birth parents’ consent become irrevocable?
No action can be brought against a proposed adoption except within six months of consent.
What rights does the father of the baby have in Mississippi adoptions?
An unmarried mother and father may file a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity for a child born out of wedlock in Mississippi. The execution of the paternity acknowledgment form results in the same legal effect as if the parents had been married at the time of the child’s birth. The form also indicates the right of the alleged father to genetic testing within one year. The voluntary acknowledgment constitutes a full determination of the child’s legal parentage.
Upon receipt of the voluntary acknowledgment of paternity by the Bureau of Vital Statistics, the father’s name will be entered on the birth certificate.
Any person who is alleged or who claims to be a child’s father may also file a petition for determination of rights within 30 days of the child’s birth.
Home Study and Post-Placement Requirements in Mississippi
Prior to fostering or adopting a child in Mississippi, you must complete a home study. The home study is an evaluation process that assesses your ability to provide a stable, nurturing home to a child.
Below, find information about what to expect during the Mississippi home study process.
What is included in the Mississippi home study process?
Applicants must complete a group preparation process that consists of a series of training sessions. Each applicant will write a life story using an outline provided by the adoption worker, which will be submitted with the completed application to the adoption worker and will be used as a basis of discussion during individual interviews.
Prospective adoptive parents must disclose any criminal record or alleged criminal activity through a disclosure form. Criminal background checks and child abuse central registry checks will be completed. References must be submitted.
Who is included in the home study process?
The adoptive applicants must complete the home study in Mississippi.
Who will conduct the home study?
An adoption specialist within the Division of Family and Children’s Services is responsible for the home study.
When must the home study be completed?
The home study must be completed with 90 days of the initial date of the application. Studies must be kept up-to-date at all times, and an update of the study must be completed biannually.
On what grounds will the home study not be approved in Mississippi?
The agency will postpone or withdraw from the adoption home study under the following circumstances:
- Adoptive applicant’s pregnancy
- Acceptance of a child for adoption from another source
- Serious health problems of any family member
- Marital separation or divorce
- Failure to provide significant factual information on agency forms
- Any factor that appears to indicate possible inability to parent a child appropriately, including unfavorable references or financial limitations
What are the post-placement study requirements for Mississippi?
A minimum of six months of post-placement supervision is required. The supervisory period will be determined by the adjustment of the child to the new home and family. The six months may be shortened or lengthened if appropriate to stabilize the placement. The adoptive family will be required to attend adoption support group meetings.
During the supervisory visit, the adoption specialist will make one visit within two weeks of placement and a minimum of one visit each of the next three months. An additional visit is necessary at the end of the six-month period.
What are the home study requirements for stepparent or relative adoptions in Mississippi?
The six-month post-placement supervisory period is not required in stepparent or relative adoptions within the third degree. Age requirements may be waived for foster parents and relative adoption applicants.
What are the requirements to adopt a child from another state?
All out-of-state adoptive placements are subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC).
What are the requirements to adopt a child that is currently in my care?
A foster-adopt home is offered only for children whose goal or concurrent plan is adoption. The foster-adoptive family must complete application requirements for adoption to be eligible to apply for a license as a foster-adopt family. The licensing specialist and social worker will maintain at least monthly face-to-face supervisory contacts with the child and the family while the child is in placement, and the foster-adopt home will be reevaluated every 24 months as required by the licensing authority. Foster parent training requirements apply.
Foster-adopt parents will be trained in concurrent permanency planning and must be willing to work with birth parents if this is part of the child’s plan. If reunification does not occur, they must be committed to providing a permanent home for the child.
In Mississippi, you are required to obtain a home study prior to an adoption placement. Contact one of these trusted home study providers to get started:
- New Beginnings International Children’s & Family Services
New Beginnings provides quality, professional domestic and international home study services from adoptive persons in Mississippi. The agency is licensed by the Mississippi Department of Human Services and fully accredited for Hague adoptions.
- 200 Million Flowers
200 Million Flowers is licensed to perform SAFE home studies for international (non-Hague) and domestic adoption, as well as updates, post-placement and post-adoption reports.
Mississippi Adoption Agencies and Adoption Professionals
When you are ready to begin the adoption process, your adoption professional can work with you to answer your questions and arrange necessary adoption services. These adoption professionals are experienced in completing adoptions in Mississippi and can help guide you through your adoption journey:
- American Adoptions
- New Beginnings
- Catholic Charities
- Mississippi Children’s Home Services
- Acorn Adoption
For more information about foster care in Mississippi, visit the Mississippi Department of Human Services.
Things to do in Mississippi
Whether you visit the Magnolia State to meet prospective birth parents or wait for ICPC approval, there is plenty to keep you busy in Mississippi. Here are a few fun things you can enjoy during your stay:
- Vicksburg National Military Park (Vicksburg)
- Tupelo Automobile Museum (Tupelo)
- Longwood (Natchez)
- Elvis Presley Birthplace & Museum (Tupelo)
- Biloxi Lighthouse (Biloxi)
- The Delta Blues Museum (Clarksdale)
Find more information about traveling to Mississippi at http://www.visitmississippi.org/.