Louisiana

Adoption Laws

Consent to Adoption

Who Must Consent to an Adoption Citation: Ch. Code Art. 1193; 1113

Consent to the adoption of a child shall be required of the following:

  • The mother of the child
  • The father of the child, regardless of the child’s actual paternity, if any of the following apply:
    • The child is a child born of the marriage.
    • The father is presumed to be the father of the child in accordance with law.
  • The alleged father of the child who has established his parental rights in accordance with law
  • The biological father of the child whose paternity has been determined by a judgment of filiation and who has established his parental rights
  • The custodial agency that has placed the child for adoption

If a parent executing a surrender in a private adoption is a minor, the parents or tutor of the minor must join in the surrender unless the minor parent has been judicially emancipated or emancipated by marriage.

Consent of Child Being Adopted

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

When Parental Consent Is Not Needed Citation: Ch. Code Art. 1193; 1245

The consent of the parent is not required if his or her rights have been terminated in accordance with Title X or XI.

The court may grant an adoption without the consent of the agency, if the adoption is in the best interests of the child, and there is a finding that the agency has unreasonably withheld its consent.

Parental consent is not necessary when a petitioner in an intrafamily adoption has been granted custody of the child by a court of competent jurisdiction, and the parent has failed to support, visit, or communicate with the child without just cause for at least 6 months.

Parental consent is not necessary when the spouse of a stepparent petitioner has been granted sole or joint custody of the child or is otherwise exercising lawful custody of the child, and the other parent has refused to support, visit, or communicate with the child without just cause for at least 6 months.

When Consent Can Be Executed Citation: Ch. Code Art. 1122(b)(1); 1130; 1195

The act of surrender shall not be executed earlier than the 3rd day following the birth of the child if it is an agency adoption, or the 5th day following the birth of the child if the adoption is a private adoption.

A father may execute an act of surrender prior to the birth of the child or at any time after the birth. However, any surrender executed by a father earlier than the 5th day following the birth of the child shall not be irrevocable until the 5th day following the birth of the child.

An alleged or adjudicated father may execute an act of surrender prior to the birth of the child or at any time after the birth. His surrender shall be irrevocable upon execution.

How Consent Must Be Executed Citation: Ch. Code Art. 1120; 1122

Prior to the execution of any surrender, the parent shall participate in a minimum of two counseling sessions with a licensed social worker, psychologist, psychiatrist, or a counselor employed by a licensed child-placing agency.

The act of surrender shall make the following declarations:

  • The parent has no mental incapacity.
  • A minor parent is joined in the act of surrender by the parents or tutor or has the consent of the court except when surrendering to an agency.
  • The parent has been informed and understands that the act of surrender is irrevocable.
  • The parent freely and voluntarily surrenders custody of the child for the purpose of adoption and waives notice of any subsequent adoption proceedings.
  • The parent has been informed of the voluntary registration law for contact between the parent and the surrendered child upon the child’s reaching majority.
  • A surrendering parent, the agency accepting the surrender, or a prospective adoptive parent are domiciled in the State, or the child is in the custody of the Department of Social Services.
  • In an adoption arranged by the department, execution of the surrender is made without conditions of any kind.
  • The surrendering mother does or does not wish to be notified of a hearing of any opposition to the adoption filed pursuant to article 1137.
  • The surrendering parent does or does not wish the future release of identifying information in the event of a medical necessity for which information is needed in order to treat the child.
  • The parent has been informed that the Statement of Family History will be given to the adoptive parents at the time of placement and made available, upon request, to the child at age 18.
  • The parent has received the required counseling sessions or that, in the case of the father, he has waived such counseling.
  • The parent has consulted with and been fully advised by an attorney, other than the attorney of the prospective adoptive parent.

Revocation of Consent Citation: Ch. Code Art. 1123; 1147; 1195

Consent is irrevocable upon execution and acceptance by the court.

Except as noted in article 1130 above, no act of surrender shall be subject to annulment except upon proof of duress or fraud.

Criminal Background Checks for Prospective Foster and Adoptive Parents

Requirements for Foster Parents Rev. Stat. §§ 46:51.2(C); 46:282; 46:286.1(E)(1)

A Federal and State criminal records check is required for prospective foster parents, kinship foster parents, and any adult household members as a part of the investigation for licensing foster parents.

The Department of Social Services, Office of Community Services, shall investigate the background of each person who applies to be a foster parent. The investigation shall include, but shall not be limited to, a determination of whether the applicant or any adult member of the applicant’s household has been charged with a crime and, if so, the disposition of those charges.

The office shall require each applicant and adult family member to provide fingerprints and such authorization as is necessary to conduct State and national criminal history record checks and to obtain any other information required to complete the investigation.

No child shall be newly placed in a foster home for temporary care, except for emergency placement, until it is determined that no adult living in such home has been convicted of or pled nolo contendereto a crime listed in Rev. Stat. § 15:587.1(C). The crimes listed include:

  • Murder and manslaughter
  • Rape and sexual battery
  • Kidnapping
  • Incest
  • Criminal neglect of family
  • Criminal abandonment
  • Child pornography and molestation
  • Cruelty to juveniles
  • Sale of minor children
  • Manufacture and distribution of controlled dangerous drugs

Requirements for Adoptive Parents Children’s Code art. 1131(E); Rev. Stat. §§ 46.282; 46.51.2(C)

The sheriff or the State police, Louisiana Bureau of Criminal Identification and Information, shall conduct a records check for all Federal and State arrests and convictions in this and any other States in which either of the prospective adoptive parents has been domiciled. Each prospective adoptive parent shall submit a set of fingerprints to the State police.

The department shall conduct a records check for validated complaints of child abuse or neglect in this or any other State in which either of the prospective adoptive parents has been domiciled since becoming an adult, involving either prospective adoptive parent.

The investigation shall include, but shall not be limited to, a determination of whether the applicant or any adult member of the applicant’s household has been charged with a crime and, if so, the disposition of those charges.

The office shall require each applicant and adult family member to provide fingerprints and such authorization as is necessary to conduct State and national criminal history record checks and to obtain any other information required to complete the investigation.

No child shall be newly placed for adoption until it is determined that no adult living in such home has been convicted of or pled nolo contendereto a crime listed in the section above.

Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights Children’s Code art. 1015

The grounds for termination of parental rights are:

  • Conviction of murder of the child’s other parent
  • Unjustified intentional killing of the child’s other parent
  • Misconduct of the parent toward the child, another child of the parent, or any child that constitutes extreme abuse, cruel and inhuman treatment, or grossly negligent behavior below a reasonable standard of human decency, including conviction, commission, aiding or abetting, attempting, conspiring, or soliciting to commit any

of the following:

    • Murder or unjustified intentional killing
    • Aggravated incest, rape, sodomy, or sexual abuse
    • Torture or starvation
    • A felony that has resulted in serious bodily injury
    • Abuse or neglect that is chronic, life threatening, or results in gravely disabling physical or psychological injury or disfigurement
  • Abuse or neglect after the child is returned to the parent’s care when the child had previously been removed for his or her safety
  • Previous termination of the parent’s parental rights to one or more of the child’s siblings due to neglect or abuse coupled with unsuccessful attempts to rehabilitate the parent
  • Sexual exploitation or abuse
  • Human trafficking when sentenced pursuant to Rev. Stat. § 14:46.2(B)(2) or (3)
  • Abandonment of the child by placing him in the physical custody of a nonparent or the department or by otherwise leaving the child under circumstances demonstrating an intention to permanently avoid parental responsibility by any of the following:
    • For a period of at least 4 months, despite a diligent search, the whereabouts of the child’s parent continue to be unknown.
    • As of the time the petition is filed, the parent has failed to provide significant contributions to the child’s care and support for any period of 6 consecutive months.
    • As of the time the petition is filed, the parent has failed to maintain significant contact with the child by visiting him or her or communicating with him or her for any period of 6 consecutive months.
  • Failure of the parent to substantially comply with a case plan for 1 year or more and no reasonable expectation of significant improvement in the parent’s condition or conduct in the near future
  • Incarceration of the parent for an extended period of time, and despite notice by the department, the parent has refused or failed to provide a reasonable plan for the appropriate care of the child other than foster care
  • The relinquishment of an infant pursuant to Chapter 13 of Title XI
  • The commission of a felony rape by the natural parent that resulted in the conception of the child

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parental Rights

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Circumstances Allowing Reinstatement of Parental Rights Children’s Code art. 1051; 1052; 1053

If a child is in foster care and older than age 15, the child’s counsel or the department may file a motion to restore the parental rights or parental contact with a parent whose rights have been terminated.

The department shall make a diligent effort to locate a parent whose rights may be restored and notify him or her of the effects of the restoration, including the obligation to pay child support. Within 45 days after the date the motion is filed, the department shall submit a confidential report to the court that shall include the following:

  • Changes in the parent’s circumstances
  • Reasons why parental rights were terminated
  • The willingness of the parent to resume contact with the child and to have parental rights restored
  • The willingness of the child to resume contact with the parent and to have parental rights restored
  • The ability and willingness of the parent to be involved in the life of the child and to accept the physical custody of the child
  • Other relevant information

At the hearing, the court may, in the best interests of the child, order one of the following:

  • Allow contact between the parent and child, and if so, under what conditions
  • Restore the parental rights of the parent
  • Place the child in the custody of the parent with or without continuing supervision of the department

If the department, counsel for the child, CASA volunteer, and the parent stipulate that restoration of parental rights or parental contact is in the best interests of the child, the court may, after reviewing the report of the department, enter a judgment to that effect without a hearing.

The restoration of parental rights and placement of the child in the custody of the parent without supervision by the department is considered a permanent placement. Any other disposition by the court shall be made part of the case plan.

Home Study Requirements for Prospective Parents in Domestic Adoption

Who Must Be Studied Citation: Admin. Code § 67:V.7315

The home study must include the applicant(s) and all members of the household.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study Citation: Children’s Code Art. 1207; 1229

For a private or agency adoption, the department shall investigate and submit a confidential report of its findings to the court. The department may delegate the performance of this investigation to a licensed private adoption agency, but the department remains responsible for ensuring the accuracy and thoroughness of the resulting report and for the safety and welfare of the child.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents Citation: Children’s Code Art. 1198; 1221; Admin. Code § 67:V.7315

A single person who is age 18 or older or a married couple jointly may petition to adopt a child.

In regulation: Applicants must verify:

  • Their marital status, whether legally married or single
  • Their identities
  • That they are either U.S. citizens or legal aliens
  • That they are at least age 18
  • That they have sufficient income, separate from foster care reimbursement, to meet the needs of the family
  • That they and all household members:
    • Have no communicable or infectious diseases
    • Have no illness or condition that would present a health (including past and present mental health) or safety risk to a child placed in the home
    • Are physically able to provide necessary care for a child

Applicants must provide three personal references of people not related to them and one reference who is related to the applicant(s) but does not live in the home.

The adoptive parent(s) shall participate in training provided or approved by the agency to develop and enhance their skills.

The applicant’s home must meet the health and safety requirements listed in regulation.

Elements of a Home Study Citation: Admin. Code § 67:V.7315

The agency shall complete a State and national criminal background check for each adoption applicant and any member of the household. A check of the State Central Registry shall be conducted on household members age 18 and older for each State where the person has resided for the past 5 years.

The study shall include:

  • At least two home consultation visits and a third visit that may be a home or office visit
  • Separate face-to-face interviews with each age-appropriate member of the household and an interview with an adult child of the applicant, who does not live in the applicant’s home, regarding the applicant’s parenting history
  • Motivation for adoption
  • History of any previous application for adoption
  • Background and social information of all members of the household, including:
    • Personality, family background, customs, and relationships
    • Children in the family and family interaction patterns, where and how a new child will fit in and affect family relationships
    • Hobbies, interests, social and family contacts, involvement in the community, and how these will be affected by the addition of a new child
    • Religious affiliation and practices
    • The attitude of each member of the family toward the placement of a child into the home
    • Disciplinary beliefs and practices
    • The plan for child care if parent(s) work outside of the home
    • Provisions for meeting the needs of a special needs placement
    • Attitudes and capacities for parenting an adopted child
    • Attitude toward birth parent(s) and the reason the child is in need of adoption
    • Understanding and acceptance of the adopted child’s background, heritage, identity, and need for sibling and/or family contact
    • Readiness and capacity to discuss adoption with the child and deal with adoption-related issues that arise

Grounds for Withholding Approval Citation: Admin. Code § 67:V.7315

No person who is listed on the State Central Registry with a valid finding of child abuse or neglect may reside in an adoptive home.

The applicant shall be notified, in writing, within 30 days if the request to become an adoptive home parent is not recommended for one of the following reasons:

  • The applicant is unwilling to withdraw the request to become an adoption parent after receiving a recommendation to withdraw.
  • The applicant desires to adopt but is unwilling to adopt a child under the custodial control of the department.

The provider shall enter a dispositional summary in the case record clearly indicating the reason for denial of the application for certification, the manner in which the decision was presented to the family, and whether or not they agreed with the decision. If the applicant disagrees with the department’s recommendation to not accept the applicant as an adoption home, department staff shall review the request to become an adoption home parent and issue a final written determination regarding the department’s recommendation.

A home shall be decertified if:

  • The family does not meet the general requirements for an adoption home.
  • The placement is not in the best interests of a child.
  • Sexual abuse or exploitation by the parent or other resident of the home is substantiated.
  • Substantiated child abuse or neglect by a household resident occurs that is serious in nature or warrants removal of a child.
  • A serious physical or mental illness develops that may preclude adequate care of the child by the parent.
  • A child has not been placed in the home within the preceding 2 years.

If it is necessary to decertify a home, the reason shall be stated in a personal interview with the family. The provider shall confirm, in a written notice to the parent, the decision to decertify a home. The notice shall be delivered within 30 calendar days of the interview.

When Studies Must Be Completed Citation: Admin. Code § 67:V.7315

The home study must be completed prior to adoptive placement of a child in the home.

Postplacement Study Requirements Citation: Admin. Code § 67:V.7315

The agency placing a child shall remain responsible for the child until a final decree has been granted.

The child and family shall be seen within 3 weeks of placement and once every 2 months thereafter, with a visit within 30 days prior to the final decree. At least two of the supervisory visits shall be in the adoptive home and shall include both adoptive parents (if applicable) and all other members of the household.

Observations made during the visits shall be used in making recommendations for finalization of the adoption or to assist the family if problems arise that cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of the family and provider. The agency shall assist the family directly and/or refer the family to a provisional resource outside of the agency to address the problem(s).

In special needs placements, supervisory visits should be made at least once every 2 months to provide information, assistance, and support to the family.

Written reports of the supervisory visits shall be dated, sent to the department as part of the confidential report, and placed in the records of the child and adoptive parent(s).

The agency shall:

  • Be available to give the family assistance, consultation, and emotional support with situations and problems encountered in permanent placement
  • Ensure continuation of case management, visits, and telephone contacts based upon the needs of the child until the adoption is legally granted
  • Be made aware of any change in the adoptive home, including health, education, or behavior
  • Be responsible for assisting adoptive parents to finalize the adoption or, in cases where the adoption cannot be finalized, developing an alternative permanent plan and placement for the child

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions Citation: Children’s Code Art. 1243; 1243.2; 1252

A stepparent, stepgrandparent, great-grandparent, grandparent, or collaterals within the 12th degree may petition to adopt a child if all of the following elements are met:

  • The petitioner is related to the child by blood, adoption, or affinity through a parent recognized as having parental rights.
  • The petitioner is a single person older than age 18 or a married person whose spouse is a joint petitioner.
  • The petitioner has had legal or physical custody of the child for at least 6 months prior to filing the petition for adoption.

Upon the filing of a petition, the court immediately shall order:

  • That the local sheriff, State police, or Louisiana Bureau of Criminal Identification and Information conduct a fingerprint-based records check for all Federal and State arrests and convictions for each of the prospective adoptive parents
  • That the department conduct a records check for validated complaints of child abuse or neglect in this or any other State in which either of the prospective adoptive parents has been domiciled since becoming an adult

The department need not investigate a proposed intrafamily adoption except upon order of the court.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements Citation: Children’s Code Art. 1610

Any out-of-home placement of a child outside the State is subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

The child shall not be sent into the receiving State until the appropriate public authorities in the receiving State notify the sending agency, in writing, that the proposed placement does not appear to be contrary to the interests of the child.

Foster to Adopt Placements Citation: Rev. Stat. § 46:286.13; Admin. Code § 67:V.7315

Foster parents have the right for first consideration as a placement option for a child previously placed in their home and for a child placed in their home who becomes available for adoption if a relative placement is not available.

In regulation: Adoption of a child by foster parent(s) shall be considered when:

  • The foster parent(s) are interested in adopting the child.
  • An assessment indicates that foster parent adoption is the most desirable permanent plan for the child.
  • The child has lived with the foster family for a period of time and the child and family have formed affectionate and healthy ties.
  • Removal and placement would be likely to cause lasting emotional damage to the child.
  • The foster parent(s) meet certification standards for adoptive homes.

Infant Safe Haven Laws

Infant’s Age Citation: Ch. Code Art. 1150

An infant may be relinquished. The term ‘infant’ means a child not previously subjected to abuse or neglect, who is not more than 30 days old as determined within a reasonable degree of medical certainty by an examining physician.

Who May Relinquish the Infant Citation: Ch. Code Art. 1150; 1151

The terms ‘relinquish’ or ‘relinquishment’ of an infant mean to give possession or control of the infant by a parent to another with the settled intent to forego all parental responsibilities.

If a parent wishes to relinquish his or her infant, he or she may leave the infant in the care of any employee of a designated emergency care facility. If the parent is unable to travel to such a facility, he or she may call 911, and a law enforcement officer or emergency medical service provider shall immediately be dispatched to meet the parent and transport the child to a hospital.

Who May Receive the Infant Citation: Ch. Code Art. 1150

The infant may be delivered to a designated emergency care facility, including any:

  • Hospital
  • Public health unit
  • Emergency medical service provider
  • Medical clinic
  • Police station
  • Fire station
  • Pregnancy crisis center
  • Child advocacy center

Responsibilities of the Safe Haven Provider Citation: Ch. Code Art. 1152

Every designated emergency care facility shall appoint as its representative one or more employees on duty during regular business hours who is knowledgeable about the requirements of this chapter. In addition, at other times each facility shall designate a representative who can be reached by emergency telephone service.

The Department of Children and Family Services shall create a card that will be supplied to designated emergency care facilities. The card shall be given to the individual relinquishing an infant into the care of a designated emergency care facility. The card shall contain a toll-free number to the department and a section on the card for the designated emergency care facility to provide their address and contact information.

In the event that the relinquishing parent makes contact with the department or the designated emergency care facility, the relinquishing parent shall be asked to voluntarily provide information about any prenatal care and the name of the other parent. The representative shall provide to the parent written information about:

  • How to contact the department should the parent later have questions about the relinquishment or the voluntary medical and genetic history information
  • The availability of counseling services
  • The right of the parent to file a claim and be heard in accordance with articles 1156 and 1157
  • The right of the parent to use the services of the voluntary registry in accordance with chapter 15 of title XII

In the event that an infant is relinquished to a designated emergency care facility other than a hospital, the staff of the facility shall immediately transfer the child to a hospital. The representative shall immediately notify the department of the relinquishment.

Immunity for the Provider Citation: Ch. Code Art. 1152

Absent evidence of willful or intentional misconduct or gross negligence in carrying out their responsibilities, the representative and other staff of the designated emergency facility shall be immune from civil and criminal liability in any legal action arising from the examination, testing, care, and treatment of the infant.

Protection for Relinquishing Parent Citation: Ch. Code Art. 1151

Relinquishment in accordance with this law is not a criminal act of neglect, abandonment, cruelty, or crime against the child.

Effect on Parental Rights Citation: Ch. Code Art. 1154; 1156; 1157; 1158

The department shall take physical custody of the infant within 12 hours of notice that the infant is ready to be discharged from the hospital. The department shall exercise due diligence in attempting to identify and locate any nonrelinquishing parent, including but not limited to performing a missing children search.

Within 30 days after the relinquishment, the parent may seek to reclaim parental rights by filing a motion declaring his or her intention to retain his or her parental rights. The court shall order blood or tissue testing and shall also order the department to immediately conduct a home study of any parent seeking to reclaim his or her rights. A relinquishing parent may reclaim parental rights by proving by clear and convincing evidence that:

  • He or she is the parent of the child.
  • Setting aside the relinquishment and permitting the parent to reclaim the child is in the child’s best interests.

If the court finds that the relinquishment should be set aside and that the parent may reclaim his or her parental rights, then the parent shall also prove that he or she has manifested a substantial commitment to his or her parental responsibilities and is a fit parent of the child. If the court finds that the parent has established parental rights, it may also order the parent to reimburse all or part of the medical expenses incurred for the infant in connection with his or her birth and care.

If a relinquishing parent has not made a timely claim to the child and if no timely claim has been made by a nonrelinquishing father, the court shall, within 45 days after the relinquishment, terminate the rights of the parents.

No action to annul a judgment terminating parental rights shall be brought for any reason after 90 days from its signing or after a decree of adoption has been entered, whichever is earlier.

Regulation of Private Domestic Adoption Expenses

Birth Parent Expenses Allowed Citation: Children’s Code Art. 1200; Rev. Stat. § 14:286

Payments made by or on behalf of the adoptive parents for reimbursement of the following expenses are permissible:

  • Reasonable medical expenses, including hospital, testing, nursing, pharmaceutical, travel, or other similar expenses, incurred by the birth mother for prenatal care and those medical expenses incurred by the birth mother and child incident to birth
  • Reasonable medical expenses, including hospital, testing, nursing, pharmaceutical, travel, or other similar expenses, and foster care expenses incurred on behalf of the child prior to the decree of adoption
  • Reasonable expenses incurred for mental health counseling services provided to a birth parent or a child for a reasonable time before and after the child’s placement for adoption
  • Reasonable expenses incurred in ascertaining the information for the Statement of Family History required by articles 1124 and 1125
  • Reasonable living expenses incurred by a mother for a reasonable time before the birth of her child and for no more than 45 days after the birth
  • Reasonable attorney fees, court costs, travel, or other expenses incurred on behalf of a parent who surrenders a child for adoption or otherwise consents to the child’s adoption
  • Any other specific service or fee the court finds is reasonable and necessary

Birth Parent Expenses Not Allowed Citation: Children’s Code Art. 1200

Payment for the birth mother’s living expenses may not extend beyond 45 days after the birth.

If a court determines from an accounting that an amount that is going to be or has been disbursed for expenses is unreasonable, it may order a reduction in the amount to be disbursed and order the person who received the disbursement to refund that portion.

Allowable Payments for Arranging Adoption Citation: Children’s Code Art. 1200; Rev. Stat. § 14:286

Except for expenses permitted by law, the payment or receipt of anything of value for the procurement, attempted procurement, or assistance in the procurement of a party to an act of voluntary surrender of a child for adoption is strictly prohibited.

Allowable Payments for Relinquishing Child Citation: Children’s Code Art. 1200; Rev. Stat. § 14:286

The payment of allowable expenses may not be made contingent on the placement of a child for adoption, relinquishment of the child, or consent to the adoption.

Except for expenses permitted by law, it shall be unlawful for any person to sell or surrender a minor child to another person for money or anything of value, or to receive a minor child for such payment of money or anything of value.

Allowable Fees Charged by Department/Agency Citation: Children’s Code Art. 1200; Rev. Stat. § 14:286

The payment of allowable expenses may not be made contingent on the placement of a child for adoption, relinquishment of the child, or consent to the adoption.

Except for expenses permitted by law, it shall be unlawful for any person to sell or surrender a minor child to another person for money or anything of value, or to receive a minor child for such payment of money or anything of value.

Accounting of Expenses Required by Court Citation: Children’s Code Art. 1200; 1201

The petitioner shall file with the adoption petition a preliminary estimate and accounting of fees and charges. The petitioner also shall file a final Adoption Disclosure Affidavit with the court no later than 10 days prior to the date scheduled for the final hearing on the adoption. A form for the affidavit is in Children’s Code article 1201.

The court shall not issue a final decree of adoption until it has reviewed and approved the final accounting.

The Rights of Unmarried Fathers

Legal Definition of Father Children’s Code Art. 116

A ‘parent’ is any living person who is presumed to be a parent under the Civil Code or a biological or adoptive mother or father of a child.

Paternity Registry Rev. Stat. § 9:400

The Department of Health and Hospitals shall establish a putative father registry that shall record the names and addresses of the following:

  • Any person adjudicated by a court of this State to be the father of the child
  • Any person adjudicated by a court of another State or territory of the United States to be the father of an out-of-wedlock child, where a certified copy of the court order has been filed with the registry by such person or any other person
  • Any person who has filed with the registry an acknowledgment by authentic act
  • Any person who has filed with the registry a judgment of filiation rendered by a court that recognizes a father as having, either formally or informally, acknowledged a child born outside of marriage and in which the father is adjudged the parent of the child

Alternate Means to Establish Paternity Rev. Stat. §§ 9:392; 9:572

Prior to the execution of an acknowledgment of paternity, the notary shall inform the party or parties making the acknowledgment of the following:

  • Either party has the right to request a genetic test to determine if the alleged father is the biological father of the child.
  • The alleged father has the right to consult an attorney before signing an acknowledgment of paternity.
  • If the alleged father does not acknowledge the child, the mother has the right to file a paternity suit to establish paternity.
  • After the alleged father signs an acknowledgment of paternity, he has the right to pursue visitation with the child and the right to petition for custody.
  • Once an acknowledgment of paternity is signed, the father may be obligated to provide support for the child.
  • Once an acknowledgment of paternity is signed, the child will have inheritance rights and any rights afforded children born in wedlock.

The court vested with jurisdiction may provide, by local rule, that in uncontested proceedings to establish paternity, proof may be submitted by affidavit.

Required Information Rev. Stat. §§ 9:400; 9:392

A person filing a declaration to claim paternity of a child or an acknowledgment of paternity shall include therein his current address and shall notify the registry of any change of address.

An acknowledgment of a child born outside of marriage shall include the Social Security numbers of the father and mother, and, in accordance with the provisions of 42 U.S.C. 652(a)(7), shall include all minimum requirements specified by the secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Failure to recite a party’s Social Security number as required herein shall not affect the validity of the declaration.

Revocation of Claim to Paternity Rev. Stat. § 9:392

A party who executed an authentic act of acknowledgment may revoke the act, without cause, before the earlier of the following:

  • 60 days after the signing of the act, in a judicial hearing for the limited purpose of revoking the acknowledgment
  • A judicial hearing relating to the child, including a child support proceeding, wherein the affiant to the authentic act of acknowledgment is a party to the proceeding

Thereafter, the acknowledgment of paternity may be voided only upon proof, by clear and convincing evidence, that such act was induced by fraud, duress, material mistake of fact, or error, or that the person who executed the authentic act of acknowledgment is not the biological father.

Access to Information Rev. Stat. § 9:400

The Department of Health and Hospitals shall, upon request, provide the names and addresses of persons listed with the registry to any court or authorized agency. Such information shall not be divulged to any other person, except upon order of a court for good cause shown.

Use of Advertising and Facilitators in Adoptive Placements

Use of Advertisement Citation: Rev. Stat. § 46:1425(A)

It shall be unlawful for any person or organization other than a licensed child-placing agency or a Louisiana-based crisis pregnancy center to advertise through print or electronic media that it will adopt children or assist in the adoption of children.

Use of Intermediaries/Facilitators Citation: Rev. Stat. § 14:286(B)-(C)

The payment or receipt of anything of value for the procurement or assistance in the procurement of a party to an act of voluntary surrender of a child for adoption is prohibited. No petitioner, agency, attorney, or other intermediary shall make any payment in connection with an adoptive placement other than for reasonable medical, administrative, living, or other expenses.

Who May Adopt, Be Adopted, or Place a Child for Adoption?

Who May Adopt Citation: Ch. Code Art. 1198, 1221

The following persons may adopt:

  • A single person who is age 18 or older
  • A married couple jointly

Who May Be Adopted Citation: Ch. Code Art. 1198, 1221

Any child may be adopted.

Who May Place a Child for Adoption Citation: Ch. Code Art. 1169, 1170

An adoptive placement maybe made by:

  • Private placement
  • A child-placing agency

Post-Adoption Laws

Access to Adoption Records

Who May Access Information Citation: Ch. Code Art. 1126; 1270

The voluntary adoption registry may be used by:

  • The adopted person who is at least age 18
  • The birth mother and birth father
  • The parents or siblings of a deceased birth parent
  • An adoptive parent of a minor or deceased adopted person
  • The birth siblings who are age 18 or older

Nonidentifying information shall be provided to:

Access to Nonidentifying Information Citation: Ch. Code Art. 1126; 1127; 1127.1

The agency or person to whom a surrender is made shall have the duty to make a good faith effort to obtain the Statement of Family History required by Articles 1124 and 1125, to deliver it to prospective adoptive parents upon placement, and to make it available, upon request, to the adopted person at age 18 or older. If the Statement of Family History is subsequently transferred to another agency or person, the new custodian of the information assumes responsibility to the adopted person.

Any adopted person, or if still a minor, his or her legal representative, or a birth parent, may, upon written request, obtain nonidentifying medical or genetic information without the necessity of filing a motion for disclosure. Upon such a request, the agency or person shall make a good faith effort to review and abstract nonidentifying genetic or medical information from all available records and sources that are similar in content to the Statement of Family History.

After adoptive placement of the child, the agency or person to whom a surrender is made shall have a continuing duty to maintain these records and supplement them if additional nonidentifying medical or genetic information is received about the adopted child or a birth parent. Upon such a request, the agency or person shall disclose such information. In fulfilling this continuing duty, the agency or person is authorized to contact the adopted person, adoptive parents, and birth parents to provide updated nonidentifying medical and genetic information or to facilitate the exchange of information between the parties.

Mutual Access to Identifying Information Citation: Ch. Code Art. 1270

The Office of Community Services of the Department of Social Services shall maintain a voluntary registry for the matching of adopted persons and birth parents or siblings, or both. The purpose of this registry shall be to facilitate voluntary contact between the adopted person and the birth parents or siblings, or both.

The use of the registry shall be limited to the adopted person who is at least age 18, the birth mother, the birth father, parents or siblings of a deceased birth parent, an adoptive parent of a minor or deceased adopted person, and any birth sibling who is at least age 18. No registration by an adopted person shall be permitted until all birth siblings who were adopted by the same adoptive parents have reached age 18.

The registry shall not release any information from adoption records in violation of the privacy or confidentiality rights of a birth parent who has not authorized the release of any information.

The registry shall confirm for an adopted person the fact of his or her adoption and identify the court in which the adoption was finalized and the agency, firm, or lawyer facilitating the adoption when that information is known by the department. To receive this information, the adopted person shall be age 18 or older, submit the request in writing, and provide proof of identity.

Access to Original Birth Certificate Citation: Rev. Stat. § 40:73

The original birth certificate is available:

  • Upon court order to the adopted person or if deceased, the adopted person’s descendants, or the adoptive parent
  • To the agency that was a party to the adoption upon court order after a showing of compelling reasons

Where the Information Can Be Located

Louisiana Voluntary Adoption Registry, Department of Children and Family Services

Intestate Inheritance Rights for Adopted Persons

Birth Parents in Relation to Adopted Person Citation: Ch. Code Art. 1240; 1256(C); 1218

Upon adoption, the birth parents and birth relatives of the adopted person are relieved of all of their legal duties and divested of all of their legal rights with regard to the adopted person, including the right of inheritance from the adopted person.

The right of the child to inherit from his or her birth parents and other birth relatives is unaffected by the adoption.

If the adoptive parent is married to a birth parent of the adopted child, the relationship of that birth parent and his or her blood relatives to the adopted child shall remain unaltered and unaffected by the adoption.

Adoptive Parents in Relation to Adopted Person

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Adopted Persons Who Are Not Included in a Will

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Postadoption Contact Agreements Between Birth and Adoptive Families

What may be included in postadoption contact agreements? Children’s Code Art. 1269.3

Every postadoption contact agreement shall be in writing and signed by the adopting parents and by any adult granted contact. If a sibling granted contact is a minor, his or her parent or legal custodian shall sign the agreement.

If requested by the parties, the court may refer them to mediation to assist them in drafting the agreement. If necessary to ensure that the child’s best interests are taken into account, the court may also appoint independent counsel for any child involved in future continuing contact.

A continuing contact agreement may authorize the exchange of information, communication by telephone, mail, email, or other means, and direct visitation in either the adopting parents’ home or elsewhere through a mutually agreed upon intermediary.

Every agreement must declare the following:

  • The parties have freely and voluntarily entered into the agreement, and it reflects their intent to be bound by its terms, unless later modified by a replacement agreement or by court order.
  • The sibling, grandparent, parent, or other relative by blood, adoption, or affinity has been counseled and advised by the department, counsel, or other appropriate professional about the meaning of the terms and the effects of a continuing contact agreement, and each has had the opportunity to have the agreement reviewed by his or her counsel.
  • The sibling, grandparent, parent, or other relative has been informed and understands that upon the execution of the agreement, any dispute or litigation regarding its terms shall not affect the validity of any surrender, termination of parental rights, adoption, or custody of the adopted child.
  • The adopting parents have been informed and understand that the sibling, grandparent, parent, or other relative by blood, adoption, or affinity may seek enforcement of the terms of the agreement in accordance with Article 1269.8.

Who may be a party to a postadoption contact agreement? Children’s Code Art. 1264; 1269.2

In an agency adoption in which the department is the custodian of the child, the court may approve an agreement providing for continuing contact between the child to be adopted and his or his grandparent, sibling, and any parent, if both of the following conditions are met:

  • The child has an established, significant relationship with that person to the extent that its loss would cause substantial harm to the child.
  • The preservation of the relationship would otherwise be in the best interests of the child.

If there is no parental relationship that meets the requirements of the paragraph above, the court may approve an agreement providing for continuing contact between the child to be adopted and any other relative by blood, adoption, or affinity whose relationship with the child meets those requirements.

When adoption is approved by the court as the permanent plan for the child, the department shall inform any parent, grandparent, sibling, or any other relative or foster parent who meets the requirements above of the possibility of postadoption contact with the child upon agreement with the adoptive parents.

Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, the natural parents of a deceased person whose surviving child is thereafter adopted, and the parents of a person whose parental rights have been terminated, may have limited visitation rights to the adopted minor child.

What is the role of the court in postadoption contact agreements? Children’s Code Art. 1269.4; 1269.5

Within 10 days after the petition is filed, the department or attorney for the prospective adoptive parents shall file in the court in which the adoption is pending, an agreement for continuing contact. The agreement may be filed later than 10 days after execution if the court agrees upon a showing of good cause.

If either the department or counsel for the child objects to the agreement, the court may conduct a hearing before approving the agreement.

The court shall review a continuing contact agreement executed in conformity with the requirements of this chapter.

If the court finds that an agreement serves the best interests of the child, the agreement shall be incorporated into a judgment of the court. An agreement reached by the parties and approved by the department and counsel representing the child is presumed to serve the best interests of the child. The judgment shall provide that failure to comply with the terms of the agreement does not constitute grounds for annulling a surrender or the final decree of adoption.

If the court rejects the agreement, it shall make specific findings of fact in support of its conclusion that the best interests of the child would not be served by approval of the agreement. The factors to be considered shall include:

  • The duration of the child’s relationship with the parent, grandparent, sibling, or other relative by blood, adoption, or affinity seeking continuing contact
  • The strength of the psychological attachment between the child and the individual seeking continuing contact
  • The resulting harm to the child if the relationship is not preserved

If the child is age 12 or older, the court shall solicit and consider the child’s wishes in the matter.

Are agreements legally enforceable? Children’s Code Art. 1269.6

A continuing contact agreement shall be enforceable only if filed with the court and approved in accordance with article 1269.5.

Failure to comply with the terms of an agreement made pursuant to this chapter is not grounds for nullifying a surrender or an adoption decree or revocation by a biological parent of a surrender or consent to an adoption or for any action seeking the child’s custody. Failure to include this warning in the judgment as required by article 1269.5 shall not affect the adoption.

How may an agreement be terminated or modified? Children’s Code Art. 1269.8

Unless another court has jurisdiction pursuant to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, the court shall retain jurisdiction after the decree of adoption is entered for the purpose of hearing motions brought to enforce, modify, or terminate an agreement entered into pursuant to the provisions of this chapter.

Before hearing such a motion, the court shall refer the parties to mediation. Only if the court finds that the party seeking relief has participated or attempted to participate in good faith in mediating the dispute may it proceed to a determination on the merits of the motion.

If the child is age 12 or older, the court shall solicit and consider the child’s wishes in the matter.

The court shall order continuing compliance in accordance with the agreement and refuse to modify or terminate it unless it finds that there has been a change of circumstances and the agreement no longer serves the best interests of the child.

Laws Related to Intercountry Adoption

Effect and Recognition of a Foreign Adoption Decree

La. Ch. C. Art. § 1282.1

A petition must be filed with the court for recognition of a foreign adoption.

Readoption After an Intercountry Adoption

La. Ch. C. Art. §§ 1282.1; 1282.2

The adoptive parents will petition the State court for recognition of a foreign adoption decree that was issued in a foreign country. The petition will state:

  • The full name, address, age, occupation, and marital status of each petitioner, at least one of whom is a legal resident of the State of Louisiana
  • The name by which the child is known
  • The place and date of the birth of the child if known, and if not known, the approximate age of the child
  • The date and circumstances under which the child was adopted

The petition will be accompanied by:

The court will issue a judgment recognizing the foreign adoption and rendering a final decree of adoption upon finding that the conditions listed above have been met, and:

  • The original or a certified copy of the foreign adoption decree, together with a notarized transcript, has been filed and is presumed to have been granted in accord with the law of the foreign country.
  • The child has qualified as a foreign orphan and is in the United States in accordance with applicable U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service* regulations.
  • The child is either a permanent resident or a naturalized citizen of the United States.
  • The petitioners have the ability to care for, maintain, and educate the child.

[* As of March 1, 2003, the responsibility for providing immigration-related services was transferred from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a bureau of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The statutes do not yet reflect this change.]

Application for a U.S. Birth Certificate

La. Rev. Stat. § 40:79(c)

The State Registrar will prepare a new birth certificate for a foreign-born person who is adopted outside the United States by adoptive parents who are State residents at the time of the adoption, or for a foreign-born person who is adopted in the State but who is not a U.S. citizen, or who is a naturalized U.S. citizen, when it receives:

  • A certified copy of the order or decree of adoption
  • A certified copy of the original foreign birth certificate, and, if the certificate is not in English, a certified verbatim translation of the certificate
  • If the certified copy of the original birth certificate of the adoptee and certified translation are not available, the State court may make findings on the date, place of birth, and parentage of the adoptee

The State Registrar will prepare a certificate in the new name of the adoptee and will seal and file the court findings and the order or decree of adoption. The certificate will show the true or probable country, island, or continent of birth.

The certificate will state that it is not evidence of U.S. citizenship for the child. However, the certificate may be evidence of U.S. citizenship if the State Registrar receives a certified copy of a certificate of naturalization.

Source

Child Welfare Information Gateway. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families. [1]

References