Missouri Adoption Guide

Everything you need to know about adopting in Missouri.

Kenneth Knudson June 17, 2015

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

We’ve divided this guide into five parts: general information about adopting in Maryland, then sections dedicated to domestic infant adoption (starting in slide 6), foster adoption (slide 20), international adoption (slide 30), and stepparent adoption (slide 34). And don’t miss our slide filled with links to helpful adoption resources (slide 37).

Are you interested growing your family through domestic infant adoption? Click here to connect with an adoption professional who can answer your questions.

<b>Please Note:</b>
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.

<b>Did You Know?</b>
2. Did You Know?

Captain Albert Berry jumped into the record books when he launched himself from a plane and recorded the first successful parachute jump from the sky.

Citizens of St. Louis consume more barbecue sauce per capita than any other city in America. It's about to get saucy!

<b>Adoption in Missouri at a Glance</b>
3. Adoption in Missouri at a Glance


Kids in foster care available for adoption in 2012: 11,300      

Foster adoptions completed in 2012: 1,237     

International adoptions completed in 2012: 1,087

Other adoptions completed in 2012: 175     

<b>Can I Adopt in Missouri?</b>
4. Can I Adopt in Missouri?

Adoption requirements in the state of Missouri are as follows:

Age: 18, and while there is no maximum age limit adoption agencies want to ensure that parents have the physical and mental capabilities to raise children

Marital Status: married or single

Finances: stable income with ability to meet needs of children *may vary depending on type of adoption. Foster adoption costs are usually covered by the agency.

Housing: own or rent a home, condo, mobile home, or apartment as long as it meets licensing standards

Work: full-time, part-time, retired, or no employment required as long as the parents can provide for the family

Personality: stable, nurturing, protective, basic understanding of how adoption affects children, and a strong desire to protect children

Experience: no preference

Other Requirements in State: Must have an approved home study and complete a criminal record background check. Must be a U.S. Citizen or able to prove lawful immigration status. Both the parents and the children must be in good health recognized by a physician.

DISQUALIFYING CRIMES: In Missouri, crimes against children could disqualify an individual from being eligible to adopt. To learn more about disqualifying crimes, visit Code of Regs. Tit. 13, § 40-59.030.

SOURCE:
Child Welfare.Gov

<b>Developing a Support System</b>
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 adoption forums. You may also want to consider joining a support group for adoptive parents.

<b>Domestic Infant Adoption in Missouri</b>
6. Domestic Infant Adoption in Missouri

Before you get started, click here 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 Missouri.

<b>Domestic Infant Adoption: Get Professional Help</b>
7. Domestic Infant Adoption: Get Professional Help

When considering domestic adoption, one should seek out knowledge from an adoption professional. It is also important to seek legal advice from an attorney who understands adoption laws. Adoption professionals can assist families in home study preparation, background checks, preparedness for adopting children, understanding of how adoption affects children and families, and when appropriate, working with the birth parents. In some cases, adoption professionals also provide services to the birth parents as they discern the very important decision of placing their infant for adoption.

Some people pursuing a private adoption 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. Adopting parents may use an adoption facilitator, as long as the facilitator complies with Department of Social Services’ regulations. As of this reading Missouri law does not address the use of adoption facilitators. However, adoption facilitators cannot place a child; only licensed agencies and attorneys inside the state of Missouri can place a child for adoption.

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

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

SOURCE: Ann. Stat. §§ 453.014

<b>Domestic Infant Adoption: Complete a Home Study</b>
9. Domestic Infant Adoption: Complete a Home Study

Regardless of whether you complete your adoption, you will need to complete an adoption home study.

Your home study social worker will help educate you about adoption and ensure that you (and your partner, if applicable) meet the requirements outlined on Slide Three. Missouri law requires every member of the hopeful adoptive family that lives in the household of the future adoptive child to be interviewed by a social worker. Social workers visit your home at least twice on nonconsecutive days. Medical, employment, and criminal histories are examined to ensure parents and their age appropriate children are ready for adoption.

Click here to learn more about the Home Study process.

<b>Domestic Infant Adoption: Spread the Word</b>
10. Domestic Infant Adoption: Spread the Word

In Missouri, it is legal for adoptive parents to advertise for birth parents. As far as the use of adoption facilitators go, Missouri limits those who can help place a child in a prospective adoptive home to licensed agencies, adoption attorneys, the parents in a relative adoption, or the birth parent’s clergymen. (See MO Statues Section 453.014.1)

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.

<b>Domestic Infant Adoption: Parent Profiles</b>
11. Domestic Infant Adoption: Parent Profiles

If advertising is allowed in your state, 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 adoption.com/profiles

<b>Domestic Infant Adoption: Relinquishment</b>
12. Domestic Infant Adoption: Relinquishment

The birthmother is required to give consent before her rights can be terminated and the child adopted. Birthmothers cannot give written consent via an attorney until 2 days after the baby is born.

Birthfathers are only required to give consent when they are the presumed father, have acted to establish paternity before 15 days after the birth of the child with the putative father registry, or are the legally recognized father of the child. Birthfathers can give written consent at any time.

After the consent is filed, the court must approve the birth parent's consent within three days, or set a hearing on the matter.

Written consent is irrevocable upon signature, and the burden rests with the biological parents to prove to the courts that they signed under duress or fraud took place if they desire to revoke their relinquishment.

SOURCE: adoption.com/wiki/Missouri

Section 211.444, RSMo

<b>Domestic Infant Adoption: Birth Father Rights</b>
13. Domestic Infant Adoption: Birth Father Rights

Married fathers receive full guardianship of children born to their mother. When unmarried couples have a child, the father has a 15 day window after the birth of the child to establish paternity and thus have a say on the child's adoption. The birthfather may not be recognized as the legal father unless he takes steps to establish paternity.

Three Ways to Establish Paternity in Missouri
1. Marriage before the birth of a child, or the birth falls within 300 days of divorce
2. Marriage after birth
3. Along with marriage after birth, the birth father
a. acknowledges his parenthood in writing
b. with his consent is named the birth father on the child’s birth certificate
c. is obligated to support child in writing or through court order

When an unmarried birthfather is identified under the Missouri putative father registry, notification to the birth father must occur. If the birth father is not found, then a notification must be published in a public document.

Birth fathers may consent to the adoption, or they may choose not to. Birth fathers have a right to an attorney to help with the consent.

SOURCE:Stat. §§ 210.822

<b>Domestic Infant Adoption: Laws about Birth Parent Expenses</b>
14. Domestic Infant Adoption: Laws about Birth Parent Expenses

Hopeful adoptive parents and/or an adoption agency may provide legal and living expenses for an expectant mother. Unlike in other states, Missouri law gives no time frame for when these expenses start and finish. There are, however, requirements governing such support.

Permitted Expenses

• Counseling services for the birth mother before and after the adoption for a reasonable amount of time.
• Expenses brought on by the adoption pre assessment
• Legal expenses, travel, and other governmental expenses
• Normal living expenses according to the norms for the birth mother’s community
• Any other court approved expense

Banned Expenses

• Unlawful payments for the placement of the hopeful adoptive child.
• Expenses found unreasonable by the court

Courts must approve all adoption related expenses. Missouri places no dollar amount a birth parent can receive. Instead, the amount depends upon a reasonable standard. This standard drastically varies depending upon the county where the adoption takes place and the judge over the adoption.

SOURCE: Missouri Statues § 453.075(1)

<b>Domestic Infant Adoption: Post-Adoption Contact Agreements</b>
15. Domestic Infant Adoption: Post-Adoption Contact Agreements

Post-adoption contact agreements are not addressed in the Missouri statues, and are therefore not enforceable by law. After an adoption becomes final, the court has no authority to reject contact between a birth parent and an adoptee, or a birth parent and an adoptive parent.

SOURCE: Missouri Stat. § 453.080(4)

<b>Domestic Infant Adoption: Finalization</b>
16. Domestic Infant Adoption: Finalization

In Missouri, hopeful adoptive parents can finalize the adoption after six months with the child.

Courts generally want assurance that the child has bonded with and is attached to the parents. In order to finalize, you will need to file a petition to adopt and make suitable filings with the court. An attorney can assist you with this process.

SOURCE: MO Statues 453.080.1

<b>Domestic Infant Adoption: Adopting in Missouri from Out-of-State</b>
17. Domestic Infant Adoption: Adopting in Missouri from Out-of-State

With private (usually domestic infant) adoptions, it is always possible to adopt a child within Missouri, 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 here.

<b>Domestic Infant Adoption: Traveling to Missouri from Out of State</b>
18. Domestic Infant Adoption: Traveling to Missouri from Out of State

Missouri boasts many interesting sights to see as you visit. From the famous Gateway Arch overlooking the beautiful city of St. Louis, the wild Six Flags St. Louis, the scenic Table Rock Lake, to the historic boyhood home of famous American author Mark Twain, Missouri offers a variety of places for all types of people to enjoy.

Hotels average $85 a night. Hotels closer to St. Louis are generally more expensive than hotels in the suburbs.

<b>Foster Adoption in Missouri</b>
19. Foster Adoption in Missouri

Before you get started, click here to 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 Missouri.

<b>Foster Adoption: Children Available for Foster Adoption in Missouri</b>
20. Foster Adoption: Children Available for Foster Adoption in Missouri

According to the Missouri Department of Social Services, there are 10,100 kids in the foster care system.

You can find a photolisting of waiting children here.

<b>Foster Adoption: Get Professional Help</b>
21. Foster Adoption: Get Professional Help

In the state of Missouri, private agencies licensed to provide foster care in Missouri or the Department of Social Services help complete foster adoptions.

To find adoption agencies or to read reviews of adoption service providers in Missouri, check out our Missouri reviews page.

You will still need to complete a home study as part of this process. If you are adopting through the Department of Social Services, the state will cover the costs of the home study.

<b>Becoming Part of the Foster Care System</b>
22. Becoming Part of the Foster Care System

In Missouri, the Department of Social Services can place a child before his/her biological parent's rights are actually terminated. This situation is called a legal risk placement. The term legal risk means that the child has the possibility of returning to live with their birth parents; however, agencies only make these types of placements if they are actively pursuing the termination of birth parent's rights.

During a legal risk placement, you will still be considered a foster parent and will need to meet all the guidelines for foster parents inside the state of Missouri.

<b>Post-Adoption Contact Agreements</b>
23. Post-Adoption Contact Agreements

A post-adoption contact agreement is a voluntary agreement that can be entered into by adoptive and birth families. The agreement outlines how much contact the birth and adoptive families will have after the finalized adoption.

In instances in which the child’s biological parents’ rights have been involuntarily terminated, the well-being of the child needs to be first and foremost in everyone’s minds if a post-adoption contact agreement is created. Caseworkers and therapists should be consulted in making decisions about contact after adoption.

Post-adoption contact agreements are not addressed in the Missouri statues, and are therefore not enforceable by law. After an adoption becomes final, the court has no authority to reject contact between a birth parent and an adoptee, or a birth parent and an adoptive parent.

SOURCE: Missouri Stat. § 453.080(4)

<b>Finalization</b>
24. Finalization

In Missouri, hopeful adoptive parents must care for a foster child for at least nine months before petitioning to adopt that child. In addition, biological parent's rights must be terminated before the adoption can become final. An adoption attorney can help you with this process.

Before any petition to adopt can be filed, hopeful adoptive parents must submit to a home study and a background check. Courts investigate to ensure that the parents are mentally/physically able to adopt, and that the child in question has bonded with the hopeful adoptive parents. All foster care adoptions must be approved by the courts.

SOURCE: MO Department of Social Services

MO St. § 27.4

<b>Adoption Assistance</b>
25. Adoption Assistance

Missouri offers assistance for most children adopted from foster care. This assistance comes from the Department of Social Services, Children's Division, and can include:

1. One time reimbursement (up to $2,000) of adoption related expenses
2. Medical expenses until the child is 18
3. Monthly subsidy to care for the child

For more information about what types of services are available and who to contact, click here.

<b>Foster Adoption: Adopting from Out of State</b>
26. Foster Adoption: Adopting from Out of State

It's always possible to adopt a child from Missouri, even if you live in a different state.

If you are adopting a child from a state different from the one in which you reside, 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. The ICPC will need to approve your packet before you can bring your child home.

Read more about the ICPC here.

For information about the ICPC in Missouri, click here.

<b>Foster Adoption: Traveling to Missouri from Out of State</b>
27. Foster Adoption: Traveling to Missouri from Out of State

Missouri boasts many interesting sights to see as you visit. From the famous Gateway Arch overlooking the beautiful city of St. Louis, the wild Six Flags St. Louis, the scenic Table Rock Lake, to the historic boyhood home of famous American author Mark Twain, Missouri offers a variety of places for all types of people to enjoy.

Hotels average $85 a night. Hotels closer to St. Louis are generally more expensive than hotels in the suburbs.

<b>International Adoption in Missouri</b>
28. International Adoption in Missouri

Before you get started, click here to 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 Missouri.

<b>International Adoption: Photolisting</b>
29. International Adoption: Photolisting

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

Click here to meet some of them through our Photolisting.

<b>International Adoption: Get Professional Help</b>
30. 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. Click here to browse through reviews of adoption agencies in Missouri.

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

<b>International Adoption: Post-Adoption Requirements</b>
31. International Adoption: Post-Adoption Requirements

When adoption occurs outside of the states, Missouri recognizes said adoption after it's cleared by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service.

After bringing your child home, in order to have the adopted child's name changed to your family name, parents send the adoption decree issued by the child's home country along with documentation from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to their county clerk.

The documents will be reviewed, and an order recognizing the foreign adoption will be filed and entered. You can request a copy of this order for your personal records.

You will also need to request a U.S. birth certificate for your child.

Read more about post-adoption requirements here.

<b>Stepparent Adoption in Missouri</b>
32. Stepparent Adoption in Missouri

Before you get started, click here to 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 Missouri.

<b>Stepparent Adoption: Terminating Parental Rights</b>
33. Stepparent Adoption: Terminating Parental Rights


In order for you to adopt the child of your spouse, the corresponding biological parent’s 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.

<b>Stepparent Adoption: Petitioning to Adopt</b>
34. 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.

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Kenneth Knudson


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