How to Adopt in Oklahoma

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 Oklahoma. Below, find Oklahoma adoption and foster care resources, agencies and information about how to adopt in Oklahoma City, Tulsa and beyond.

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Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Adopting a Child in Oklahoma

Adoption processes and qualifications are determined by state laws. If you are interested in adopting a child in Oklahoma, 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 Oklahoma?

To adopt in Oklahoma, you must be at least 21. An individual or husband and wife jointly may adopt, or one spouse may adopt in a stepparent or relative adoption.  A married person may adopt singly if legally separated.

What adoption expenses can be paid by adoptive families in Oklahoma?   

Adoptive parents may pay reasonable attorney fees and court costs, medical expenses, counseling expenses, and living expenses for housing, food, clothing, utilities, and other necessities of the birth mother. The adoptive parents may also pay reasonable costs for travel or transportation of the mother and child as needed for medical or adoption-related appointments.

Court approval is required for any living or transportation expenses over $500. Living expenses may be paid up to two months following placement, and counseling costs for the birth parents may not exceed past six months after placement. Payments deemed unreasonable by the court will not be allowed. The reasonable fees of a licensed agency, as well as home study costs, are permitted.

An affidavit must be attached to the adoption petition and filed prior to the final adoption decree disclosing all costs expended by the adoptive family.

What are the laws to become a foster parent in Oklahoma?

Oklahoma foster parents must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Be in reasonably good health
  • Have no history of child abuse, neglect, or sexual abuse
  • Provide sufficient space for the child
  • Be able to meet your family’s financial needs
  • Complete a home study, including background and reference checks, fingerprinting and a medical exam
  • Complete 27 hours of resource family orientation

What are the requirements to finalize an international adoption in Oklahoma?

An adoptive parent of a child adopted outside of the United States may readopt the child under Oklahoma law if one or both adoptive parents are citizens of the state. The court may grant an adoption decree when the adoptive parent files a copy of the termination of parental rights granted by the country of origin, documents from the foreign government stating that the biological parents’ rights have been terminated, the child was abandoned or relinquished. The adoptive parent should also file certified translations of any documents in a foreign language. The six month waiting period may be waived if the child has been in the adoptive home for at least six months prior to filing the adoption petition and if a post-placement report has been submitted to the court.

The adoptive parents can present an adoption decree, judgement or final order issued by a court or other authority in the foreign country, or present proof of the child’s citizenship, along with a petition for a name change, the court. The court will then order the state registrar to prepare a supplementary birth certificate for the child.

Is it legal to use advertising or facilitators to adopt in Oklahoma?

Only a licensed child-placing agency or attorney may advertise for and solicit women who are pregnant to induce them to place their children for adoption upon birth. Only the department or a licensed child-placing agency may advertise services for compensation to assist with the placement of a child for adoption. This does not prohibit a person from advertising to pregnant women to consider adoptive placement or to locate a child for adoption, provided that the person has received a favorable home study recommendation and that no money or other thing of value is offered for the adoption.

Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Placing a Baby for Adoption in Oklahoma

As a prospective birth parent, you likely have questions about the rules and regulations of placing a baby for adoption in Oklahoma. The following will help answer some of your questions about Oklahoma adoption laws.

When and how can birth parents consent to the adoption?

A mother cannot execute consent until after the child is born. Fathers of children born in wedlock cannot execute consent until after the child’s birth. Putative fathers may execute consent before or after birth. A guardian or legal custodian may execute consent any time after being authorized to do so. A child-placing agency may consent any time before or after the hearing on the adoption petition. A child whose consent is required may execute consent any time at or before the hearing on the adoption petition.

The consent must state that it is being voluntarily and unequivocally and that the person giving consent understands that consent is final upon execution unless there is proof of fraud or duress. The person giving consent must state that they are represented by counsel or have waived the right to counsel and that they have not received or been promised anything of value for the consent except payments authorized by law. If the person executing consent is a member of an Indian tribe or if the child is eligible for membership, this must be stated in the consent.

The consent may be signed before a judge. A putative father of a non-Indian child may execute an extrajudicial consent before a notary public before or after the child’s birth.

Who must consent to the adoption?

Both parents must consent to adoption, unless one parent is dead or the rights of one parent have been terminated. If both parents have died or their rights have been terminated by the court, the legal guardian or guardian ad litem must consent to the adoption. If a licensed child-placing agency has custody of the child, the executive head of the agency must consent to the adoption. If the child is age 12 or older, he or she must consent to the adoption unless the court finds that it is not in the child’s best interest to require them to consent.

When is consent not needed?

In Oklahoma, parental consent is not required if:

  • A putative father fails to prove he is the father of the child, or for a child placed within 14 months of birth, he fails to demonstrate that he has exercised his parental rights or served his duties to the child
  • For 12 consecutive months of the 14 months immediately preceding the adoption petition, the parent willfully failed, refused or neglected to support the child or maintain a substantial and positive relationship with the child
  • The parent waives in writing the right to notice of the hearing or fails to appear at the hearing
  • The parent is entitled to custody but has abandoned the minor
  • The parent has been convicted of physically or sexually abusing the child or a sibling or failed to protect the minor or a sibling from physical or sexual abuse
  • The parent has been convicted of causing the death of a child’s sibling as a result of physical or sexual abuse or chronic neglect
  • The parent has been sentenced to a period of incarceration for at least 10 years and the continuation of parental rights would harm the child
  • The parent has a mental illness or deficiency that renders the parent incapable of adequately exercising their parental rights, duties and responsibilities
  • The parent has permanently relinquished rights and responsibilities to the child
  • The parent has had his or her parental relationship legally terminated or legally determined not to exist
  • The parent has voluntarily placed the child into the care of a licensed child care institution or child-placing agency and the child has remained in out-of-home care for at least 18 months, and the parent has willfully failed to comply for 12 consecutive months with a reasonable plan of care

When does the birth parents’ consent become irrevocable?

Consent is irrevocable upon execution unless evidence exists that:

  • A petition to adopt was not filed within nine months after placement
  • Another consent or permanent relinquishment was not executed or the court decided not to terminate another individual’s parental relationship to the child
  • Before the adoption decree is issued or within three months of discovery, whichever is later, it is established that the consent was obtained by fraud or duress

An extrajudicial consent is revocable for any reason for up to 15 calendar days after execution.

What rights does the father of the baby have in Oklahoma adoptions?

In Oklahoma, an acknowledged father is a man who has established a father-child relationship by signing an acknowledgment of paternity. An adjudicated father is a man who has been adjudicated by the court to be the father of a child. An alleged father or putative father is a man who is alleged to be a possible genetic father of a child but whose paternity has not been determined. A presumed father is recognized as the father of a child until that status is rebutted or confirmed.

The Department of Human Services has established a centralized paternity registry to protect the parental rights of putative fathers who may wish to assume responsibility for children they may have fathered and to expedite adoptions of children whose biological fathers do not assume responsibility by filing with the registry or otherwise acknowledging their children.

With the centralized paternity registry, a putative father may file a notice of desire to receive notification of adoption proceedings, a notice of intent to claim paternity, an instrument acknowledging paternity, a waiver of interest, or any other claim for acknowledging or denying paternity authorized by law.

Home Study and Post-Placement Requirements in Oklahoma

Before an adoption or foster care placement can be made in Oklahoma, 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 Oklahoma home study process.

What is included in the Oklahoma home study process?

The Oklahoma home study includes at least one individual interview with each prospective parent, each school-aged child, and any other household member, as well as one joint interview, a home visit and three written references. The person conducting the home study will verify that the home is a healthy, safe environment for a child and will verify marital status, employment, income, access to medical care, and physical health and history. Criminal background checks and child abuse and neglect system checks will also be included in the home study.

Who is included in the home study process?

The prospective parents and all other household members age 18 and older will be included in the Oklahoma home study.

Who will conduct the home study?

The home study will be completed by one of the following:

  • The agency having custody of the child
  • The Department of Human Services
  • A licensed child-placing agency
  • A person designated by the court who has the proper qualifications and experience in children’s services

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

The Oklahoma home study will not be approved if a prospective parent or any other person in the home has been convicted of any of the following:

  • Physical assault, domestic abuse, battery, or a drug-related offense within the five years preceding the adoption petition
  • Child abuse or neglect
  • A crime against a child, including child pornography
  • A crime involving violence, including rape, sexual assault or homicide

A child will not be placed with an individual subject to the Oklahoma Sex Offenders Registration Act.

The home study may also be denied if the applicant lacks a stable, adequate income; the home is inadequate to accommodate a child; the applicant’s age, health or other condition would interfere with their ability to care for the child; relationships in the household are unstable or unsatisfactory; the mental health of the applicant or other household member would interfere with their ability to care for the child; references have reservations in recommending the applicant.

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

The home study must be completed before an adoption placement is made. The home study must be current within 12 months of the placement.

What are the post-placement study requirements for Oklahoma?

Prior to the final adoption decree, the investigator must observe the child in the adoptive home and report in writing to the court any circumstances that may have a bearing on the issuance of the final adoption decree.

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

The home study of a relative or stepparent is required during the pendency of a proceeding for adoption. If the home study has not been done upon filing the adoption petition, the court will order one. If it is a stepparent adoption, the court may waive the home study requirement if it finds that the waiver is in the best interests of the child, the parent and stepparent have been married for at least one year with the child living in their home, and the stepparent has no record of conviction of a felony or adjudication for child abuse or neglect or domestic violence. In all other adoptions, including foster, relative and stepparent adoptions, a home study report must be made.

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.

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

If the court determines that a foster child is to be placed for adoption and the child has lived with the foster parent for at least one year, the court may give priority to the foster parent in the adoption consideration unless there is an existing loving and emotional bond between the child and a relative who is willing, able and eligible to adopt the child.

To begin the home study process in Oklahoma, contact one of these trusted home study providers in your state:

  • Adoption Choices of Oklahoma
    405-794-7500
    Adoption Choices of Oklahoma is a licensed adoption agency that provides domestic and international home studies anywhere in the state.
  • Oklahoma Home Study
    405-341-0045
    Oklahoma Home Study is a licensed nonprofit adoption agency that exclusively provides adoptive home studies (domestic, international, relative and stepparent), guardianship studies, and post-placement reports.

Oklahoma 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 Oklahoma. These adoption professionals are experienced in completing Oklahoma adoptions and can help you reach your adoption goals:

For more information about foster care and foster-to-adopt in Oklahoma, visit the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.

Things to do in Oklahoma                  

If you find yourself spending some time in the Sooner 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 Oklahoma, here are a few fun things you can enjoy during your stay:

For more information about traveling to Oklahoma, visit http://www.travelok.com/.