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How to Adopt in New Mexico

From Albuquerque to Las Cruces, Rio Rancho to Santa Fe and everywhere in between, hundreds of New Mexico families have been completed through adoption. Whether you are interested in adopting a child or considering adoption as a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy, this guide outlines the rules and qualifications for adopting a child in New Mexico, as well as other helpful state adoption information.
Dramatic sunrise as seen from a canyon near Cochiti, NM

Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Adopting a Child in New Mexico

Like every state, New Mexico has laws regarding who can adopt and how they can adopt. If you are interested in adopting a child in New Mexico, 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 New Mexico?

In New Mexico, residents who meet one of the following requirements may adopt:

  • An individual who has been approved by the court as a suitable adoptive parent
  • A married individual may adopt without their spouse if:
    • The spouse is a parent of the adopted person (stepparent adoption)
    • The couple is legally separated
    • The spouse’s failure to join in the adoption is excused by the court

Nonresidents may also adopt in New Mexico if the child being adopted is less than six months old, was born in or resides in New Mexico and was placed by the department or a New Mexico-licensed agency.

What adoption expenses can be paid by adoptive families in New Mexico?

In New Mexico, prospective adoptive parents or those acting on the prospective parents’ behalf may make payments for services relating to the adoption only to third-party vendors as is reasonably practical. These payments may include:

  • Medical, hospital, nursing, pharmaceutical, traveling or similar expenses incurred by a mother or child in connection with the birth or illness of the child
  • Reasonable counseling services
  • Living expenses of the mother and her children for a reasonable time before or after birth and placement
  • Expenses incurred for the purpose of full disclosure
  • Legal services performed for a parent consenting to the adoption
  • Other services or expenses found to be reasonably necessary by the court

Any other payments are not permitted. Living expenses may not extend beyond six weeks after the child’s birth.

What are the laws to become a foster parent in New Mexico?

New Mexico foster parents must be healthy, at least 21 years old and able to provide space, love and care to a child. Foster parents must attend an orientation program, complete parenting classes and successfully complete the New Mexico home study.

What are the requirements to finalize an international adoption in New Mexico?

Prospective adoptive parents must file and verify an adoption petition along with copies of the child’s passport and U.S. visa, as well as all documents demonstrating that the child is legally free for adoption, including a certificate from the U.S. Secretary of State that certifies whether the adoption is a convention adoption. For a convention adoption, the petition must state that the country in which the child has been residing is a party to the Hague Convention, that the agency or person providing adoption services has been approved as an accrediting entity and that the certificate issued by the U.S. Secretary of State certifies the adoption as a convention adoption and has been filed with the court.
Within 30 days of the final adoption decree, the adoptive parents must prepare an application for a birth certificate in the new name of the adopted child showing the adoptive parent as the child’s parent. The application should be submitted to the clerk of court and the state registrar of vital statistics.

Is it legal to use advertising or facilitators to adopt in New Mexico?

The use of advertising is not addressed in New Mexico adoption statutes. No person, other than an agency, may select an adoptive family for a prospective adopted child or arrange for the selection of an adoptive family. However, the exchange of information regarding the existence of a potential adoptee or adoptive family is not prohibited.

Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Placing a Baby for Adoption in New Mexico

As a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy, you likely have many questions about the rules and regulations of placing a baby for adoption in New Mexico. The following information will help answer some of your questions about adoption laws in the Land of Enchantment.

When and how can birth parents consent to the adoption?

Consent may be executed 48 hours after the child’s birth. The consent must be in writing. If the consenting person’s first language is not English, the person taking the consent must certify in writing that the document has been read and explained to the person in their first language. The certification will include the name of the person who read and explained the document and will state that the meaning and implications of the document were fully understood by the person giving consent.
A consent taken by an individual appointed to take consent by an agency must be notarized. When consent is signed in the presence of the judge, it does not need to be notarized.

Who must consent to the adoption?

In New Mexico, consent to adoption is required of the mother, the proposed adoptive parent, the presumed father, the acknowledged father, the department or agency that is placing the child for adoption, and the guardian of the child’s parent if that guardian has express authority to consent to the adoption. Consent is also required of the child if he or she is age 14 or older. In any adoption involving an Indian child, consent must be obtained from an Indian custodian as required by the Indian Child Welfare Act.

When is consent not needed?

Consent is implied if a parent has left the child without provision for the child’s identification for 14 days or if the parent left the child with others, including the other parent or an agency, without support or communication for:

  • 3 months if the child is under age 6
  • 6 months if the child is over age 6

Consent is not required from a parent:

  • Whose parental rights to the child have been terminated
  • Who has relinquished the child to an agency for adoption
  • Who is the biological father of a child conceived through rape or incest
  • Who has failed to respond to given notice
  • Who has failed to register with the putative father registry within 10 days of the child’s birth and is not otherwise the acknowledged father

When does the birth parents’ consent become irrevocable?

Consent cannot be withdrawn unless the court finds that it was obtained by fraud. In no event can a consent or relinquishment be withdrawn after the entry of the final adoption decree.

What rights does the father of the baby have in New Mexico adoptions?

In New Mexico, an “acknowledged father” is a man who acknowledges his paternity pursuant to the putative father registry, consents to be named on the child’s birth certificate, is obligated to support the child under a written voluntary promise or court order, and has openly claimed the child as his own by establishing a personal, custodial or financial relationship with the child. An “alleged father” is an individual identified by the birth mother to be the biological father but who has not acknowledged his paternity or filed with the putative father registry. A “presumed father” is the husband of the biological mother at the time of the child’s birth, an individual who was married to the mother within 300 days of the child’s birth or who attempted to marry the child’s mother before the child’s birth, even though the attempted marriage is or could be declared invalid, and the child was born during or within 300 days of the attempted marriage or cohabitation.
A notice of intent to claim paternity filed with the state’s putative father registry may be considered evidence in any proceeding in which that fact may be relevant. Alternatively, the child’s mother and natural father may complete an acknowledgment of paternity to be filed with the vital records and health statistics bureau of the Department of Health.

Home Study and Post-Placement Requirements in New Mexico

Prior to fostering or adopting a child in New Mexico, you must complete a home study. The home study is a mutual evaluation process that assesses your ability to provide a stable, nurturing home to a child.
Below, find information about what to expect during the New Mexico home study process.

What is included in the New Mexico home study process?

The New Mexico home study includes:

  • An individual interview with each prospective adoptive parent
  • A joint interview with both prospective adoptive parents
  • A home visit that includes an interview with the adoptive parents’ children and any other permanent residence of the home
  • An interview with the child being adopted, if age appropriate
  • An individual interview with each of the adoptive child’s parents
  • Full disclosure to the prospective adoptive parents
  • A discussion about the prospective adoptive parents’ philosophy concerning discussion of adoption issues with the child
  • Criminal records checks for each petitioner
  • Current medical certificates within one year of the placement assessing the petitioner’s health as it relates to his or her ability to care for the child
  • At least three reference letters
  • A statement of the petitioner’s capacity and readiness for parenthood, their emotional and physical health and their ability to provide food, shelter, clothing and education to the child
  • Verification of the prospective adoptive parent’s employment, financial resources and marital status
  • A report of a medical examination performed on the adopted child within a year of the placement
  • A statement of the results of any prior home studies
  • Fingerprint-based nationwide criminal history records checks

Who is included in the home study process?

The New Mexico home study includes the prospective adoptive parent(s), their children, and other permanent residents of their home.

Who will conduct the home study?

The home study must be completed by an agency or person certified by the department to conduct the home study.

When must the home study be completed?

The home study needs to be completed prior to placement and must be updated within one year immediately prior to the date of placement.

On what grounds will the home study not be approved in New Mexico?

The home study may be denied based on a documented professional assessment that the applicant cannot adequately provide safety, permanency and wellbeing for a child. The following information will result in denial:

  • A conviction for a felony or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude and the criminal conviction directly relates to whether the applicant can provide a responsible, safe and morally positive home
  • A conviction for a felony or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude if the department determines that the applicant has not been sufficiently rehabilitated
  • A conviction of trafficking in controlled substances, criminal sexual penetration, related sexual offenses or child abuse
  • A substantiated referral for sexual abuse or neglect characterized by a failure to protect against sexual abuse

What are the post-placement study requirements for New Mexico?

The post-placement study evaluates the proposed adoption with a recommendation as to the granting of the adoption petition. The post-placement report will include information about the interaction between the child and prospective adoptive parent, the adjustment of the child since placement, the child’s integration and acceptance into the family, the parent’s ability to meet the child’s physical and emotional needs, whether the adoptive home is suitable and in the best interests of the child and the type and frequency of post-placement services provided to the family.
The investigation for the report will be conducted by the department, an agency or an investigator, who will observe the child and interview the adoptive parents in their home within 30 days of the placement. For an adopted child younger than age 1, a written report must be filed with the court within 60 days. For children age 1 or older, the report must be filed within 120 days.

What are the home study requirements for stepparent or relative adoptions in New Mexico?

Unless directed by the court, the home study and post-placement study is not required for an adoption by a stepparent, relative, or person named in the child’s deceased parent’s will. However, counseling may be required. In all stepparent adoptions, the stepparent will obtain a criminal records check.

What are the requirements to adopt a child from another state?

Any interstate adoption is subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC).

What are the requirements for foster-to-adopt placements?

The Protective Services Division will attempt to place foster children with concurrent plans of adoption in foster homes that have been identified as concurrent families. The division will complete the pre-placement home study for foster parents who have been selected as a foster child’s adoptive parents.
In New Mexico, you are required to obtain a home study prior to an adoption placement. Contact one of these trusted home study providers to get started:

  • Adoptions Plus
    Adoptions Plus provides all adoption services with individual care and attention, reasonable rates and in a timely manner that meets the requirements for domestic and international adoptions.
  • Adoption Assistance Agency
    Adoption Assistance Agency provides home study services according to New Mexico adoption laws and regulations as well as agency policies developed from years of experience.

Visit 1800HomeStudy.com to learn more about New Mexico home study providers.

New Mexico 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 New Mexico and can help guide you through your adoption journey:

For more information about foster care in New Mexico, visit the Children, Youth and Families Department.

Things to do in New Mexico

Whether you visit the Land of Enchantment to meet prospective birth parents or wait for ICPC approval, there is plenty to keep you busy in New Mexico. Here are a few fun things you can enjoy during your stay:

For more information about traveling to New Mexico, visit http://www.newmexico.org/.

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