Montana Adoption Guide

Everything you need to know about how to adopt in Montana

Griffin Hunsaker April 01, 2016

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

We’ve divided this guide into five parts: general information about adopting in Montana, then sections dedicated to domestic infant adoption (starting in slide 6), foster adoption (slide 16),international adoption (slide 24), and stepparent adoption (slide 28). And don’t miss our slide filled with links to helpful adoption resources (slide 31).

Are you interested in growing your family through domestic infant adoption? Connect with an adoption professional who can answer your questions by clicking here.

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.

Did You Know?
2. Did You Know?

Montana's is the only state constitution to recognize the cultural heritage of the American Indians and which is committed to the preservation of their cultural integrity.

Adoption in Montana at a Glance
3. Adoption in Montana at a Glance

Kids in Foster Care available for adoption in 2013: 498
Foster adoptions completed in 2013: ???
International adoptions completed in 2013: 35
Other adoptions completed in 2013: ???

Can I Adopt in Montana?
4. Can I Adopt in Montana?

Adoption requirements in the state of Montana are as follows:

Age: You must be 18 years or older to Adopt in Montana.
Marital Status: Adoptive parents in Montana can be single, married, or divorced.
Finances: You must demonstrate that you are able to financially support your own family.
Housing: You must own or rent a safe residence that has space for a child.
Work: You can work inside or outside your home or be retired.
Personality: Must be flexible, energetic, open to learning new things, and willing to work with social workers and other support people.
Experience: No parenting experience is required to adopt.

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 adoption forums. You may also want to consider joining a support group for adoptive parents.

Domestic Infant Adoption in Montana
6. Domestic Infant Adoption in Montana

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 Montana.

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

In Montana, it is legal to complete your adoption through the Department of Health and Human Services, through a licensed adoption agency, or through a direct placement which does not require assistance from the DPHHS or an adoption agency. "Placement" services including advertising and maintaining lists of prospective parents/children, however, can only be performed by the DPHHS or a licensed adoption agency.

You can browse and read reviews about adoption service providers in Montana here. For more information about picking an adoption agency, learn about the Top Fifteen Things to Look for In An Adoption Agency.

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

An adoption home study is required for any 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: Spred the Word
10. Domestic Infant Adoption: Spred the Word

Montana law limits advertising for adoption. Only the Montana Department of Health and Human Services or a licensed adoption agency can advertise. Thus, any advertising efforts must be coordinated with an agency.

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.

Creating a listing on Adoption.com Parent Profiles is an excellent way to connect with potential birth parents across the country. If you want to maximize your exposure to potential birth parents and receive personalized coaching and support, consider using Adoption Navigators. You’ll also want to coordinate with an agency about this.

Parent Profiles
11. Parent Profiles

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.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Relinquishment
12. Domestic Infant Adoption: Relinquishment

In Montana, relinquishment of a child for and consent to adoption must be done before an authorized officer, or a representative of the Department of Health and Human Services, an agency, or the court. At that time, recognized birth parents will swear that they are freely relinquishing their parental rights.

After this has occurred, consent can only be revoked for 2 reasons:

1. Fraud or duress can be proven prior to the entry of a final adoption decree
2. Any condition of revocation in the relinquishment, if any, is met

There is a 72-hour mandatory waiting period between birth and relinquishment.

Adoption Navigators
13. Adoption Navigators

Adoption Navigators provides you with quality expertise in sharing your dream of adopting. We provide unparalleled adoption marketing and one-on-one coaching to beautifully show expectant parents who you are and tell your story. With Adoption Navigators you receive premier advertising exposure on Adoption.com, assistance building your profile and creating a video, and expanded reach through social media and search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Adoption.com has more than 16 years of experience helping families connect with potential birth parents.

Let us help you increase your exposure to potential birth parents and decrease your adoption wait time.

Click here to get started.

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

A birth father’s consent to adoption is required if he is married to the birth mother or has commenced proceedings to establish paternity. If an unmarried biological father of an infant has not initiated efforts to establish paternity by the time placement has occurred, a court may find he has no legal rights to the child. However, Montana law encourages birth mothers to identify the birth father and his agreement to the adoption process is strongly encouraged.. Montana maintains a putative father registry which allows fathers to make known their efforts to establish paternity.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Laws About Birth Parent Expenses
15. Domestic Infant Adoption: Laws About Birth Parent Expenses

Adoptive parents are permitted to provide payment to the birth parent for an adoption petition, medical care, prenatal care, counseling, travel or temporary living costs, legal fees related to the placement of the child, a preplacement evaluation, foster care, and other reasonable costs related to adoption.

Costs that are not considered adoption-related and are therefore not allowed are expenses related to education, vehicles, salary or wages, vacations, or permanent housing for the birth parent.

Adoptive parents are not entitled to reimbursement if the adoption is not completed unless a contract was signed requiring it.

Read more here.

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

A post-adoption contact agreement is a voluntary agreement that can be entered into by adoptive and birth families. The contract outlines details about how much contact the birth and adoptive families would have after the adoption is finalized. Contact agreements are enforceable in Montana unless a court orders otherwise.

Read more here.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Finalization
17. Domestic Infant Adoption: Finalization

Montana has a 6-month waiting period from the time of the child's placement until the adoption can be finalized. During that time, a licensed social worker will visit with the family and prepare a report and recommendation for the judge. 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.

Domestic Infant Adoption: A Word About the ICPC
18. Domestic Infant Adoption: A Word About the ICPC

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.

It is not generally recommended that adoptive families contact the ICPC office directly, as it tends to delay or disrupt the process. Your attorney or agency will manage the ICPC process for you.

Read more about the ICPC here.

Foster Adoption in Montana
19. Foster Adoption in Montana

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 Montana.

Foster Adoption: Children Available for Adoption in Montana
20. Foster Adoption: Children Available for Adoption in Montana

Adoption.com currently has nine children from Montana listed in its photolisting.

Foster Adoption: Get Professional Help
21. Foster Adoption: Get Professional Help

In Montana, you can complete a foster adoption through either a licensed agency or directly through the state’s Department of Health and Human Services.

To find an adoption agency in Montana and to read reviews of the agency’s service, check out our Montana Reviews page.

You will still need to complete a home study as part of this process.

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

In Montana, a child can be placed with you for adoption by the Department of Health and Welfare before his/her biological parent’s rights have been terminated. This is called a “legal risk” placement, which means it is possible the child may return to live with 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 Montana.

Post-Adoption Contact Agreements
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 contract outlines details about how much contact the birth and adoptive families would have after the adoption is finalized. Contact agreements are enforceable in Montana unless a court orders otherwise.

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.

Finalization
24. Finalization

Montana has a 6-month waiting period from the time of the child's placement until the adoption can be finalized. During that time, a licensed social worker will visit with the family and prepare a report and recommendation for the judge. 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.

Adoption Assistance
25. Adoption Assistance

Montana offers financial assistance programs for most children adopted from the foster care program. This assistance can include:

- Reimbursement (up to $2,000) for adoption-related costs.
- A monthly subsidy for the ongoing care of the child.
- A Medicaid card to assist with medical expenses until the child is 18 years of age.

Foster Adoption: A Word About the ICPC
26. Foster Adoption: A Word About the ICPC

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.

It is not generally recommended that adoptive families contact the ICPC office directly, as it tends to delay or disrupt the process. Your attorney or agency will manage the ICPC process for you.

Read more about the ICPC here.

International Adoption in Montana
27. International Adoption in Montana

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 Montana.

International Adoption: Photolisting
28. 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.

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 consider. Click here to browse through reviews of adoption agencies in Montana.

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

You will not need to attend a court hearing to finalize your child’s adoption in Montana.

After you have brought your child home, you will need to submit the adoption decree issued by your child’s country of origin, along with a certified English translation, if necessary, to your 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.

Stepparent Adoption in Montana
31. Stepparent Adoption in Montana

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 Montana.

Stepparent Adoption: Terminating Parental Rights
32. 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.

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.

Works Cited
35. Works Cited

Adoption.com Wiki (Montana Adoption Laws)
Montana Department of Health and Human Services
Child Welfare Information Gateway
Kids Count Data Center
MontanaLawHelp.org

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Griffin Hunsaker


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