How to Adopt in Utah
As a hopeful adoptive parent or pregnant mother considering adoption in the Beehive State, you may feel overwhelmed by adoption processes, laws and qualifications. If you live in Salt Lake City, Provo or anywhere else in the state, read on to learn how to adopt or place a child for adoption in Utah.
Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Adopting a Child in UtahEvery state has adoption laws regulating many aspects of the adoption process, from who can adopt to allowable adoption expenses. The following guidelines provide information on basic laws and guidelines for adopting in Utah.
What are the laws and qualifications for adopting a child in Utah?Stepparents, single adults and adults who are legally married to each other may adopt in Utah. Adoptive parents must be at least 10 years older than the child being adopted. In the case of a married couple, only one person needs to be 10 years older than the child being adopted. A married person may not adopt without his or her spouse’s consent unless they are legally separated. Unmarried, cohabiting couples may not adopt.
What adoption expenses can be paid by adoptive families in Utah?Adoption-related expenses are permitted in Utah as an act of charity. These expenses may be paid for the mother and father of the child being adopted and must be reasonably related to the adoption and incurred for a reasonable amount. Reasonable adoption-related expenses include legal, medical, maternity, counseling, travel and living expenses. Prior to the entry of the final adoption decree, the adoptive parents must sign and file a report of all fees, expenses, gifts, property and other items of value given or received in connection with the adoption.
What are the laws to become a foster parent in Utah?In Utah, foster parents must be at least 21 years old and complete a training, assessment and licensing process. More information about becoming a foster or foster-adoptive family is available through Utah Foster Care.
What are the requirements to finalize an international adoption in Utah?Parents who adopt internationally may register the adoption order in Utah. A petition for registration of a foreign adoption order may be combined with a petition for name change, and if the court finds that the order meets state requirements, the order and birth certificate will be filed by the state registrar. If the court is unable to establish the date and place of the child’s birth, a person may petition for a court order establishing these facts.
Is it legal to use advertising or facilitators to adopt in Utah?No person, agency, corporation, association, or children’s group home may place a child or solicit money or other assistance for child-placing without a valid license. An attorney, physician or other person may assist prospective birth parents in identifying or locating potential adoptive parents or vice versa. However, no payment or exchange of value of any kind may be made for that assistance. In addition, an attorney, physician, or other person may not:
- Issue a card, sign, or device to any person indicating that he or she can provide child-placing assistance
- Cause or allow any sign or marking on or in any building indicating that he or she can provide child-placing assistance
- Announce or allow a media announcement or advertisement indicating that he or she can provide child-placing assistance
- Advertise in any other way that he or she can provide child-placing assistance
Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Placing a Baby for Adoption in UtahUtah has several laws in place to protect birth parents’ rights throughout the adoption process. If you are considering adoption for your child, it is important to understand the basic rules and regulations of placing a baby for adoption in Utah.
When and how can birth parents consent to the adoption?A birth mother must wait until at least 24 hours after the birth of her child before executing consent. Any other person whose consent is required may be executed any time before or after the child’s birth. Consent must be signed before a judge with jurisdiction over adoption proceedings or a person appointed by that judge to take consent, or a person who is authorized by a licensed child-placing agency if the consent grants legal custody to an agency.
Who must consent to the adoption?Consent is required from:
- The child’s mother
- A man who is legally recognized as the father of the child
- A man who has been adjudicated to be the biological father of the child prior to the mother’s execution of consent to adoption
- A man who has filed a voluntary declaration of paternity prior to the mother’s execution of consent to the adoption
- An unmarried biological father only if he strictly complies with requirements to develop a substantial relationship with the child, openly acknowledges his paternity, initiates paternity proceedings and provides support to the child
- A child who is at least 12 years old must consent unless he or she does not have the capacity to consent
When is parental consent not needed in Utah?Parental consent is not required when the person being adopted is at least 18 years old. Parental consent is not required if parental rights have been terminated. An unmarried biological father’s consent is not necessary if:
- The court determines that his rights should be terminated based on the petition of an interested party
- A declaration of paternity declaring him to be the father of the child is revoked
- He fails to comply with requirements to initiate paternity proceedings
When does the birth parents’ consent become irrevocable?Consent is effective and irrevocable upon signing.
What rights does the father of the baby have in Utah adoptions?An unmarried biological father who wants to be notified of adoption proceedings must file a notice of the initiation of paternity proceedings with the Office of Vital Records. A man may not file a notice of initiation of paternity proceedings if another man is adjudicated or declared to be the father. The mother of a child and a man claiming to be the father of the child may sign a declaration of paternity to establish his paternity. A declaration of paternity may be completed and signed any time after the birth of the child, but not after consent to adoption has been signed.
Home Study and Post-Placement Requirements in UtahOne of the most important steps for prospective adoptive and foster parents in Utah is the home study. The home study determines whether prospective parents are able to provide a safe, nurturing home to a child. The following section answers common questions about the Utah home study process.
What is included in the Utah home study process?The Utah home study includes fingerprint-based state and national criminal records checks and a report containing all information regarding reports and investigations of child abuse, neglect and dependence for each state the person has lived in during the previous five years. The home study report will also address biographical information about the prospective adoptive parents and family members, behavioral assessments, verification of the family’s health and financial status, home safety and health assessment, assessment of parenting skills, a declaration that applicants are not cohabiting in a relationship outside of legal marriage, and a recommendation of the types of children that may be appropriate for the prospective adoptive parents.
Who is included in the home study process?Prospective adoptive parents and other adults living in the home are included in the Utah home study.
Who will conduct the home study?The home study may be completed by a court-approved expert in family relations, a certified or clinical social worker, marriage and family therapist, psychologist or professional counselor. The Department of Human Services or a child-placing agency contracted with the department may conduct the home study for a child with special needs who is in the custody of a public child welfare agency.
On what grounds will the home study not be approved in Utah?The home study may not be approved for a person who has been convicted of a felony that constitutes:
- Child abuse
- Domestic violence in the presence of a child
- Abuse or neglect of a child with a disability
- Child endangerment
- Murder or manslaughter
- Child abuse homicide
- A sex offense, including sexual exploitation f children
- Aggravated arson, burglary or robbery
- Domestic violence
When should the home study be completed? When must the home study be renewed?The home study must be completed or updated within the 12-month period immediately prior to placement. After three years as an approved prospective adoptive home, the home study will be closed unless the family reapplies for a new home study to be completed.
What is a post-placement study in the adoption process? What are the post-placement study requirements for Utah?In Utah, a post-placement evaluation must be completed prior to the final adoption hearing. The post-placement study verifies allegations contained in the adoption petition, evaluates the progress of the placement and recommends whether the adoption is in the best interests of the child. The department will develop a child and family plan within 30 days of the placement and supervise the adoptive parents and child for at least the first six months after placement until the adoption is final.
What are the home study requirements for stepparent or relative adoptions in Utah?Pre- and post-placement studies are not required in stepparent or relative adoptions unless the evaluation is requested by the court. Criminal history and child abuse registry checks will be performed.
What are the home study requirements to adopt a child from another state?All interstate adoptive placements must comply with 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 child in foster care may not be placed with any individual that would not qualify for adoptive placement. To start the home study process, contact a trusted Utah home study provider in your area:
Utah Adoption ProfessionalsFor more information about adoption in Utah or to begin the adoption process, contact one of these local adoption professionals:
- American Adoptions
- Heart to Heart Adoptions
- Children’s Service Society
- Heart and Soul Adoption
- Utah Adoption Specialists
- LDS Family Services
Things to do in UtahWhether you find yourself in the Beehive State for visits with prospective birth parents or you’re waiting for ICPC approval, here are a few fun places for adoptive families to visit in Utah:
- Bryce Canyon National Park
- The Narrows (Zion National Park)
- Arches National Park (Moab)
- Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park (Monument Valley)
- Temple Square (Salt Lake City)
- Natural History Museum of Utah (Salt Lake City)
- Cedar Breaks National Monument (Cedar City)