Mississippi Adoption Guide

Everything you need to know about adoption in Mississippi!

Kenneth Knudson September 12, 2016

Welcome, Mississippians! This guide was written to provide you with a single place to find information about adoption within Mississippi. It will walk you through everything from laws that will impact your adoption to reviews of adoption service providers in Mississippi.

We’ve divided this guide into five parts: first, general information about adopting in MS, then sections dedicated to domestic infant adoption (starting in Slide 6), foster adoption (Slide 19),  international adoption (Slide 29), and stepparent adoption (Slide 33). And don’t miss our slide filled with links to helpful adoption resources (Slide 36).

Please Note
1. Please Note

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness, and reliability of the information provided in this slideshow guide, you should not rely on it to make decisions. Instead, you should rely on licensed professionals in making decisions relative to adoption. The information in this guide is subject to change without notice. Adoption.com is not responsible for the consequences of relying on this information. In no event shall Adoption.com be liable for any direct, indirect, special, or incidental damage resulting from, arising out of, or in connection with the use of this information.

IMAGE: Sean Pavone

Did You Know?
2. Did You Know?

-The University of Mississippi Medical Center completed the world’s first successful lung transfer in 1963

-The world’s largest cactus plantation is in Edwards, Mississippi

-Elvis Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, in 1935

-Mississippi was the first state in the nation to have constructed a system of junior colleges

-Greenville is called the Towboat Capital of the world

SOURCE: 50states.com

Adoption in Mississippi at a Glance
3. Adoption in Mississippi at a Glance

Kids in foster care waiting to be adopted in 2013: 999

Foster adoptions completed in 2013: 354

International adoptions completed in 2015: 71

SOURCE: travel.state.gov
cwla.org

Can I Adopt in Mississippi?
4. Can I Adopt in Mississippi?

Age: 21 (also 10 years older if the adoptee is a child); If the adoptee is an adult, any adult who is older than the adoptee may adopt

Marital Status: Single or married

Work: Stable income to provide for a family, enough room to house a child

Personality: Warm, trustworthy, willing to adapt to new situations

Experience: None required

Income: Sufficient to cover financial needs

Other Requirements: Must be a legal resident of Mississippi to adopt a foster care child. Must have a landline phone. Must have access to transportation at all times.

DISQUALIFYING CRIMES: Spousal or child abuse/neglect, crimes against children, and violent crimes including homicide, sexual assault

Developing a Support System
5. Developing a Support System

It’s essential to have a good network of family, friends, and neighbors to support you through your adoption process.

It’s also important to connect with other adoptive parents. You can begin making these connections in our forums. You may also want to consider joining a support group for adoptive parents.

Domestic Infant Adoption in Mississippi
6. Domestic Infant Adoption in Mississippi

Before you get started, check out our Baby Adoption Guide to learn more about the overall process of adopting an infant in the United States.

Then, because laws and processes vary from state to state, come back to get the details about adoption in Mississippi.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Get Professional Help
7. Domestic Infant Adoption: Get Professional Help

In Mississippi, you are able to work with local and private agencies or attorneys to complete an adoption.

You can browse and read reviews about adoption service providers in Mississippi here.

For more information about picking an adoption agency, learn about the Top Fifteen Things to Look for In An Adoption Agency.

Some people pursuing a private adoption (one completed without the assistance of an adoption agency) find it beneficial to work with a professional adoption facilitator, an individual or organization that matches birth parents with adoptive parents in exchange for a fee.

Paid adoption facilitators/adoption advertising is limited or restricted in many states.

Use of Advertisement
Only a child-placing agency with a current and valid license may advertise the birth mother’s wishes to place a child for adoption. Any agency, physician, or attorney who advertises in Mississippi must show their current address in the advertisement.

Use of Facilitators
No person, corporation, firm, association, agency, or children’s group home may place a child, or offer money to place a child, without a valid license. Only adoption agencies may receive payment for adoption services.

Attorneys, physicians, or other people may assist in locating a child available for adoption. However, no payment, fee, reimbursement, or exchange of value of any kind, or promise, may be made in connection with the assistance.

SOURCE: § 43-15-117

Domestic Infant Adoption: Complete a Home Study
9. Domestic Infant Adoption: Complete a Home Study

Regardless of whether you choose to adopt through an agency or adoption attorney, hopeful adoptive parents need to complete a home study to qualify for adoption.

This is different than a single home visit. The process includes completing paperwork, writing essays, obtaining letters of recommendation, completing a physical, and undergoing a criminal history background check. In a home study, a caseworker may visit multiple times in order to write a report culminating in approval for adoption.

Your home study social worker will help educate you about adoption and ensure that you (and your adoptive partner, if applicable) meet the requirements outlined on Slide Three.

Click here to learn more about the Home Study process.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Spread the Word
10. Domestic Infant Adoption: Spread the Word

One of the most important things you can do while waiting for an adoption match is to let everyone know about your hope to adopt. Many adoption connections are made through word-of-mouth referrals.

Another great way to spread the word is through social media. Creating a profile on Adoption.com Parent Profiles allows you to easily share your story with those considering placing their child for adoption. Features like videos and photos, posts, Pinterest-like favorites, and recommendations and endorsements make it easy to create a profile as unique as you are, increasing the likelihood that you will stand out and connect with that right person. Rich communication options like video chat and instant messaging make connecting easy. A mobile-responsive design means that you will never be out of reach.

What’s more, Adoption.com receives over 650,000 monthly visits, which means your profile will receive unparalleled exposure. You can even view and monitor your progress through a detailed statistics page.

Ready to get started? Visit Parent Profiles.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Relinquishment
11. Domestic Infant Adoption: Relinquishment

Without relinquishment of parental rights, no adoption in Mississippi is final.

Who is required to give consent:
-Living parents, even if under the age of 21
-If both parents are dead, any adult kin within the 3rd degree
-Guardian of an abandoned child
-Persons who have physical custody of the child, except foster parents who received custody from the Department of Human Services of the State of Mississippi
-Any person whom a court of competent jurisdiction in the state of Mississippi awarded custody of the child
-The agent of the county department of human services that has placed a child in foster care

When consent is not needed:
Adoptions may be completed at the objection of the parents when the parents:
-Abused the child
-Refused to provide reasonable and necessary food, clothing, and shelter for the child
-Suffers from a medical, emotional, or physical disability, substance abuse, or chemical dependency, that makes him or her unable or unwilling to provide a stable home and the necessities of life, based on expert opinion or past patterns of behavior
-Has a history of criminal convictions that would endanger the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health

When consent can be executed:
-Parents must wait at least 72 hours after the birth of their child to execute consent

How consent must be executed:
Consenting parties attend adoption proceedings and give consent to the proposed adoption petition. Consent may also be executed by an authorized agent from the child’s adoptive home. The child attends the petition as well.

Revocation of Consent:
This section of the Mississippi code is currently under review. The past law states that consent is irrevocable upon signing.

SOURCE: § 93-17-5

Domestic Infant Adoption: Birth Father Rights
12. Domestic Infant Adoption: Birth Father Rights

In many states a paternity registry allows unmarried fathers to register their information and receive notice of adoption proceedings.

Paternity Registry:
While Mississippi does not currently have a putative father registry, mothers & unmarried fathers at the time of the child’s birth may sign a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity. The form is required to clearly state that once signed, it provides the same legal effect as if the parent’s were married at the time of birth.

The completed form is then filed with the Bureau of Vital Statistics of the Mississippi Department of Health. Once received, the father's name is entered on the child’s birth certificate.

Revocation of claim to paternity:
Unmarried fathers have 60 days from the signing of a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity or the date of the first court hearing, whichever comes first, to revoke claim to paternity.

After this time period the acknowledgement may not be overruled unless proved in court that the acknowledgement came by fraud or duress.

SOURCE: § 93-9-28; 93-17-6

Domestic Infant Adoption: Laws about Birth Parent Expenses
13. Domestic Infant Adoption: Laws about Birth Parent Expenses

Hopeful adoptive parents and/or an adoption agency may provide certain expenses for expectant mothers. There are, however, laws governing such support.

Approved Expenses:
-Legal fees approved by court
-Attorneys fees in regards to adoption proceedings
-Reasonable medical or hospital fees in connections with the child’s birth or treatment
-Mother’s living expenses
-Counseling for parents/and or child

SOURCE: § 43-15-23(4); 43-15-117(4)

Domestic Infant Adoption: Post-Adoption Contact Agreements
14. Domestic Infant Adoption: Post-Adoption Contact Agreements

A post-adoption contact agreement is a voluntary agreement that determines the amount of contact birth and adoptive families have after the adoption becomes final.

In Mississippi, post-adoption contact agreements are not legally enforceable under the statutes reviewed.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Finalization
15. Domestic Infant Adoption: Finalization

The child must live with adoptive parents for at least 6 months in agency adoptions before the adoption becomes final. A judge can waive the 6 month period if it is in the child's best interest.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Adopting in Mississippi from Out-of-State
16. Domestic Infant Adoption: Adopting in Mississippi from Out-of-State

With private (usually domestic infant) adoptions, it is always possible to adopt a child within Mississippi, even if you live in a different state.

The Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC) was adopted in the 1960s to provide for oversight and protection of children placed for foster care or adoption between states.

If you are adopting a child from another state, you will need to receive permission from the ICPC office in the state where the child is from. Your agency or attorney will send the office copies of your home study and some other paperwork. They will need to approve your packet before you can bring your child home.

Read more about the ICPC.

IMAGE: Photo Image

Domestic Infant Adoption: Traveling to Mississippi from Out-of-State
17. Domestic Infant Adoption: Traveling to Mississippi from Out-of-State

The health of the adopted child and the length of court procedures will determine the length of your stay in Mississippi. Hotels in Mississippi average around $90 a night.

Places to visit in Mississippi:
-Elvis Presley Birthplace & Museum
-USS Cairo
-Delta Blues Museum
-Rowan Oak (William Faulkner’s home)
-Vicksburg National Military Park

IMAGE: clayton harrison

Foster Adoption in Mississippi
18. Foster Adoption in Mississippi

Before you get started, familiarize yourself with the overall process of adopting children through foster care. Then, because laws and processes vary from state to state, come back here to get the details about foster adoption in Mississippi.

Foster Adoption: Children Available for Adoption in Mississippi
19. Foster Adoption: Children Available for Adoption in Mississippi

As of 2013, there are 999 children in the Mississippi foster care system waiting to be adopted.

Click here to view a photolisting of the children.

Foster Adoption: Get Professional Help
20. Foster Adoption: Get Professional Help

In Mississippi, you can complete a foster adoption either through a licensed agency or directly through the Department of Human Services.

To find and read reviews about adoption service providers in Mississippi, visit Adoption.com’s Mississippi page.

Becoming Part of the Foster Care System
21. Becoming Part of the Foster Care System

In Mississippi, a child may be placed with hopeful adoptive parents before their biological parents’ rights have been terminated.

This is called a "legal risk" placement, meaning that is is possible that the child may return to live his/her birth family. However, these placements are not made unless the agency responsible for the child is actively pursuing the termination of his/her birth parents’ rights.

During a placement like this, you will be considered a foster parent and will need to meet all the requirements for foster parents in the state of Mississippi.

Other children are legally free and clear for adoption and would not be considered a “legal risk” placement.

Foster Adoption: Post-Adoption Contact Agreements
22. Foster Adoption: Post-Adoption Contact Agreements

A post-adoption contact agreement is a voluntary agreement that determines the amount of contact birth and adoptive families have after the adoption becomes final.

In Mississippi, post-adoption contact agreements are not legally enforceable under the statutes reviewed.

Foster Adoption: Finalization
23. Foster Adoption: Finalization

The child must live with adoptive parents for at least 6 months in agency adoptions before the adoption becomes final.

Adoption Assistance
24. Adoption Assistance

Financial aid is available for hopeful adoptive parents wishing to adopt a child with special needs. Federal (Title IV-E) and state (often called non-IV-E) adoption assistance programs are designed to help parents meet their adopted children’s varied, and often costly, needs.

The amount you receive varies greatly depending upon your child’s specific needs and circumstances. In order to be eligible, your child must meet one of the following criteria considered to be a barrier for adoption:

-Children age 6 or older
-Member of sibling group of 2 or more children to be placed together for adoption
-Physical disability
-Mental disability
-Developmental disability
-Emotional disturbance
-Medical conditions
-History of abuse that puts a child at risk for developing a disability

For monthly assistance rates and state contacts information please visit nacac.org.

SOURCE: nacac.org

Foster Adoption: Adopting in Mississippi from Out-of-State
25. Foster Adoption: Adopting in Mississippi from Out-of-State

In adopting a child from foster care, there are opportunities to adopt a child from a different state. If this is the case, you will need to comply with the requirements of The Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children.

The Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC) was adopted in the 1960s to provide for oversight and protection of children placed for foster care or adoption between states.

If you are adopting a child from another state, you will need to receive permission from the ICPC office in the state where the child is from. Your agency or attorney will send the office copies of your home study and some other paperwork. They will need to approve your packet before you can bring your child home.

Read more about the ICPC.

IMAGE: Anton Foltin

Foster Adoption: Traveling to Mississippi from Out-of-State
26. Foster Adoption: Traveling to Mississippi from Out-of-State

The health of the adopted child and the length of court procedures will determine the length of your stay in Mississippi. Hotels in Mississippi average around $90 a night.

Places to visit in Mississippi:
-Elvis Presley Birthplace & Museum
-USS Cairo
-Delta Blues Museum
-Rowan Oak (William Faulkner’s home)
-Vicksburg National Military Park

IMAGE: Zack Frank

International Adoption in Mississippi
27. International Adoption in Mississippi

Before you get started, familiarize yourself with the overall process of international adoption. Then, because laws and processes vary from state to state, come back here to get the details about international adoption in Mississippi.

IMAGE: meunierd

International Adoption: Photolisting
28. International Adoption: Photolisting

There are millions of beautiful children across the world who are hoping to find a forever family.

Meet some of them through our Photolisting.

IMAGE: SasinTipchai

International Adoption: Get Professional Help
29. International Adoption: Get Professional Help

With international adoptions, your only choice is to complete your adoption through an agency. Because of the Universal Accreditation Act, all adoption agencies completing international adoptions are required to be credentialed according to federal standards.

Make sure to check with any agency before working with them to ensure they have this accreditation in place!

In selecting an international adoption agency, there are Four Essential Criteria you should probably consider. Check out this directory to browse through reviews of adoption agencies in New Mexico.

In order to be approved to adopt internationally, you will need to complete an international adoption-specific home study.

International Adoption: Post-Adoption Requirements
30. International Adoption: Post-Adoption Requirements

In order for a child adopted from a different country to enter the United States, adoptive parents must meet all requirements set by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the country in which the child resides, and occasionally the adoptive parents’ State of residence.

As part of this process you will need to request a U.S. visa first so the child can enter the States, and then a birth certificate once a final decree of adoption comes through. Although readoption in the U.S. is not always a requirement depending upon the type of visa, many adoption professionals recommend this option to protect the child.

Application for a U.S. Visa
Depending upon the status of the child’s home country, adoptive parents will need to first fill out form I-800A(Hague Convention country) or I-600A(non Convention country). This application demonstrates that you are capable to adopt a child and consists of a USCIS form, home study, and application fee.

The type of visa you apply for depends upon the child’s country of origin. If the child is from a Hague Convention country, fill out form DS-260 to be sent to the Embassy or Consulate who issues the immigrant visa. This step comes before receiving an adoption order.

If the child is from a non Hague Convention country, adoptive parents file for either an IR-3 visa or IR-4 visa.

IR-3 visas are issued when the adoption is completed and finalized abroad, and the adoptive parents have seen the child before finalization in the child’s home country. In this case re-adoption is not required, and the child entering the States automatically becomes a U.S. citizen.

IR-4 visas are issued when an adoption is to be completed in the U.S. after the child arrives in the States. This usually occurs when parents are unable to visit the child in their home country. The child will become a citizen only when the adoption is finalized in the States and a parent-child relationship has been established.

Application for a U.S. birth certificate
The Bureau of Vital Statistics issues either a revised or a new U.S. birth certificate for children born out of this country and entering the U.S. through adoption in Mississippi.

Adoptive parents need to submit the final decree of adoption to the Bureau of Vital Statistics. Once the decree of adoption is received, the director prepares the birth certificate, which contains the following information:

-The adopted name of the child
-The child’s race, sex, DOB
-The child’s place of birth (town, district, county, except when born in penal or mental institution, then the country will suffice)

Step-by-step adoption process from Hague Convention countries

Step-by-step adoption process from non Hague Convention countries

SOURCE: § 93-17-21

Stepparent Adoption in Mississippi
31. Stepparent Adoption in Mississippi

Before you get started, familiarize yourself with the overall process of stepparent adoption. Then, because laws and processes vary from state to state, come back here to get the details about stepparent adoption in Mississippi.

Stepparent Adoption: Terminating Parental Rights
32. Stepparent Adoption: Terminating Parental Rights

In order for you to adopt the child of your spouse, the corresponding parental rights will first need to be terminated, either voluntarily or involuntarily.

You will need to consult with an adoption attorney about your desire to adopt. He/she can help you decide if it’s likely that the biological parent would be willing to relinquish rights OR if it would be feasible to pursue involuntary termination of his/her parental rights.

Stepparent Adoption: Petitioning to Adopt
33. Stepparent Adoption: Petitioning to Adopt

Once parental rights have been terminated, you can file a petition to adopt with the courts. You and your spouse will both testify in court regarding the stability of your marital relationship, the bond you’ve developed with your stepchild, and your desire to become the legal parent of your stepchild.

You will generally not be required to complete a background check or home study as part of the stepparent adoption process.

IMAGE: Sean Pavone

Works Cited
35. Works Cited

http://www.50states.com/facts/mississippi.htm

https://travel.state.gov/content/adoptionsabroad/en/about-us/statistics.html

http://www.cwla.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/2015-State-Fact-Sheet-Mississippi.pdf

http://law.justia.com/codes/mississippi/2013/title-43/chapter-15/article-3/section-43-15-117

http://law.justia.com/codes/mississippi/2013/title-93/chapter-17/in-general/section-93-17-5

http://law.justia.com/codes/mississippi/2013/title-43/chapter-15/article-1/section-43-15-23

http://law.justia.com/codes/mississippi/2013/title-93/chapter-17/in-general/section-93-17-21

https://travel.state.gov/content/adoptionsabroad/en/adoption-process/who-can-adopt/eligibility-to-adopt.html

https://travel.state.gov/content/adoptionsabroad/en/us-visa-for-your-child/immigrant-visa-process.html

https://travel.state.gov/content/adoptionsabroad/en/us-visa-for-your-child/non-hague-visa-process.html

http://www.internationaladoptionhelp.com/international_adoption/international_adoption_usa_adopting.htm

author image

Kenneth Knudson


Want to contact an adoption professional?

Love this? Want more?

Host: ws1.elevati.net