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How to Adopt in North Dakota

Just like any other state, the Peace Garden State has a unique set of regulations and processes regarding the adoption of a child. If you are hoping to adopt in Bismark, Fargo, or anywhere else in North Dakota, the information provided here will answer your most important questions.
North Dakota

Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Adopting a Child in North Dakota

Adoptive parents in North Dakota must adhere to the specific laws of the state, which regulate various stages of the adoption process. Read on to learn more about adoption rules and regulations in North Dakota.

What are the laws and qualifications for adopting a child in North Dakota?

In North Dakota, any unmarried adult or husband-and-wife couple may adopt a child. In certain cases, a married individual may also be able to adopt singly.

What adoption expenses can be paid by adoptive families in North Dakota?

Every state has different regulations regarding what financial aid a family can provide a birth mother. In North Dakota, adoptive families can legally pay the following expenses if they are properly reported:

  • Prenatal care and other medical expenses not covered by insurance
  • Living expenses over the course of a pregnancy
  • Costs of transportation, lodging, and any other expenses that arise as a result of the pregnancy or adoption plan

These expenses may be paid for up to 6 weeks after the mother gives birth. The law also does not allow families to pay for the costs of gifts, vacations, or education.

What are the laws to become a foster parent in North Dakota?

In order to become a foster family in North Dakota, parents must:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Show financial stability
  • Have a home or apartment and homeowner’s or renter’s insurance
  • Have a steady income
  • Complete a background check
  • Provide references

For more information, visit the North Dakota Department of Human Services.

What are the requirements to finalize an international adoption in North Dakota?

An adoption decree issued to a family in another country will be recognized by the state of North Dakota. The court will issue a validation of the adoption decree if the family submits:

  • A petition for validation that states:
    • The date and location of the adopted child’s birth (if known)
    • The name by which the adopted child will be known
    • The date the family gained custody
    • The name, age, marital status, and residence of the parent(s)
  • A stamp in the child’s passport stating that he or she was issued an IH-3 or IR-3 visa
  • The foreign adoption decree and birth certificate with English translations
  • A signed affidavit from the adoption agency

After these requirements have been fulfilled, the court will issue a validation decree.

Is it legal to use advertising or facilitators to adopt in North Dakota?

No hospital or maternity home may advertise for adoption, and individuals and foster care facilities may not advertise without being properly licensed.
Facilitators may not place a child or cause a child to be placed in an adoptive home without a license from the Department of Human Services.

Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Placing a Baby for Adoption in North Dakota

If you are considering adoption as an expecting mother, it is important that you are aware of the laws that protect your rights as a parent. See the sections below for laws that affect birth parents.

When and how can birth parents consent to the adoption?

Consent to an adoption in North Dakota may be executed any time after the child is born.

Who must consent to the adoption?

In order for an adoption to take place in North Dakota, consent must be given by:

  • The mother of the child
  • The father, if:
    • The child is the father’s by adoption or a father-child relationship has been established in another way
    • He is presumed to be the biological father of the child
  • Any individual with legal custody of the child
  • The court, if the legal guardian or custodian of the minor cannot consent to the adoption
  • The child to be adopted if he or she is 10 years of age or older
  • The spouse of the minor to be adopted

When is parental consent not needed in North Dakota?

Consent is not required for the following:

  • Any parent who has abandoned a child
  • A parent without custody who has failed to communicate or provide for the child for 1 year
  • Any parent who has relinquished his or her parental rights or had them terminated
  • The parents of the adoptee if the adoptee is an adult
  • A parent determined by the court to be in an inadequate mental state to provide consent
  • A parent, guardian, or spouse of the adoptee who does not respond to a request for consent within 60 days or is withholding consent without a justifiable reason
  • A parent of a minor if the court deems adoption to be in the best interests of the child

When does the birth parents’ consent become irrevocable? If a birth parent revokes consent, is the child automatically returned to the birth parent?

Consent to an adoption may be withdrawn before the entry of an adoption decree. In these cases, the court will determine if the revocation of consent is in the best interests of the child. After the entry of the adoption decree, consent becomes irrevocable.

What rights does the father of the baby have in North Dakota adoptions?

In North Dakota, a man is presumed to be the father of a child if he:

  • Was married to the mother of the child, or if he was married to her and the child is born within 300 days of the marriage’s termination
  • Married the mother of the child after the birth of the child, he asserted his paternity of the child
  • Lived in the household with the child for the first 2 years of his or her life and regarded the child as his

An alleged father is anyone who claims to be the father or possible father of a child, but his paternity has not been verified. In such cases, a voluntary paternity establishment may provide the mother and alleged father the opportunity to acknowledge paternity. These acknowledgments will be sent to the State Department of Health.

Home Study and Post-Placement Requirements in North Dakota

To complete a home study, you must find a provider who is licensed in your state and will meet all state requirements. To learn more about the North Dakota home study, see the following sections.

What is included in the North Dakota home study process?

All North Dakota home study assessments must include the following information:

  • Complete, fingerprint-based background checks
  • Reasons for adopting
  • Strengths and weaknesses of family members
  • Family and extended family’s feelings on adoption
  • Proof of stability of the parents’ marriage or other significant relationship
  • Understanding of racial and cultural history when adopting a minority child
  • Family’s feelings toward the birth parents
  • Family’s plan for talking to the child about adoption
  • Evidence of mental stability and maturity, including information found in background checks
  • Parenting skills
  • Attitude toward other children in the household, if applicable
  • Physical exams current within 12 months
  • Proof of financial stability
  • At least five references
  • Religious information
  • Description of the home and community
  • Plans for child care if all parents work
  • Plans for child care in the event of the death of parents
  • Recommendations of children for adoption

Who is included in the North Dakota home study process?

The adoptive parents must be studied, and any other members of the household or close extended family will also be included.

Who will conduct the home study?

The assessment must be completed by a licensed child-placing agency.

What are the qualifications to complete a home study?

In North Dakota, the following hopeful parents are qualified to adopt:

  • A husband and wife jointly, even if one or both parents are minors
  • An unmarried adult
  • The unmarried father or mother of the child to be adopted

On what grounds will the home study not be approved in North Dakota?

A home study will not be approved in North Dakota by the judgement of the home study provider. The child-placing agency is required to supply reasons for declining the home study in writing.

When should the home study be completed? When must the home study be renewed?

A child may be placed into a home when a full adoption assessment and background checks have been completed. An approved home study is valid for 2 years.

What is a post-placement study in the adoption process? What are the post-placement study requirements for North Dakota?

A post-placement study is an evaluation given by a child-placing agency after the adoption has taken place. The study will allow the home study provider to recommend a grant for petition of adoption. Post-placement services in North Dakota include:

  • Interviews of all members of the household
  • Monthly in-person visit with the child in the child’s home
  • Continued counseling and adoption support services

Once post-placement requirements have been met, families may move on to the finalization of an adoption.

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

All out-of-state adoptions are subject to the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) requirements. The state where the child will be placed must notify the adoption agency of its approval of the placement.

What are the pre-placement requirements to adopt a child that is currently in my care?

North Dakota statutes do not explicitly cover any additional requirements for foster parents. To learn more about foster care in North Dakota, visit the North Dakota State Department.
If you are ready to begin the home study process, contact one of your state-licensed providers:

  • Catholic Charities, ND
    Catholic Charities provides a wide variety of services to birth mothers and adoptive families, including assistance with home studies.
  • Christian Adoption Services
    Christian Adoption Services (CAS) is a non-profit child-placing agency

Visit 1800HomeStudy.com to learn more about North Dakota home study providers.

North Dakota Adoption Professionals

You will most likely be working with a child-placing agency located in your state. If you are interested in starting the adoption process or learning more, see the information for the following professionals:

Things to do in North Dakota

Whether you’re from another state or simply travelling to a part of the state you’ve never seen, there is plenty to see and do in North Dakota, including:

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