New Mexico Adoption

What you need to know about adopting in New Mexico.

Sara R. Ward March 21, 2019
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If you are interested in New Mexico adoption, then this is the place to get information on how to adopt from your state. Adoption is an exciting journey no matter which route you choose: foster to adopt, domestic, or international. When you become an adoptive parent, a child becomes legally part of your family and is given the same rights as a child who is born to you. In order to begin the process, you need to choose what New Mexico adoption program you’d like to pursue.

Qualifications to Adopt

Before you choose which adoption journey is right for you, you need to make sure you meet the basic qualifications for a New Mexico adoption. You must be over the age of 18 years old in order to adopt from New Mexico and can be single or married. There are no income requirements, but you need to be able to provide a stable income, a room for a child in your home, and pass all background criminal checks.

Home Study

Your home study is an exciting time of completing paperwork and meeting with a caseworker who will write up a detailed written report on your family. A home study on your family must be completed by a licensed adoption agency or caseworker who will cover your background, family, employment, criminal history, finances, and health history. The home study includes an interview with each parent and three reference letters. It’s designed to give a complete overview of your family situation and provide the state with assurance that you will be able to care for your child after the adoption finalization. As part of the home study, you need to complete a criminal background check, which includes a check for spousal or child abuse/neglect, crimes against children, and violent crimes. The home study must be completed before a child is placed in your home.

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Domestic Adoption

If you are interested in adopting a baby in the United States, then domestic adoption might be right for you. Domestic adoption, also known as private infant adoption, can take place in New Mexico or across state lines. You can use a private agency or use an adoption lawyer to complete your adoption. Although domestic adoption is more expensive than foster adoption, there are ways to make adoption affordable, including raising funds or financing your adoption.

Finding a birth parent is part of the process of domestic adoption. It’s important to let friends and family know that you are adopting because word-of-mouth can connect you to a birth mother considering adoption for her child. Other ways to find birth parents include through your agency or our online Parent Profiles where you can share information and pictures about your family for birth parents to see. You can also advertise for birth parents in New Mexico. However, using an adoption facilitator is only allowed when using a child-placing adoption agency. An adoption facilitator is someone who matches you with a birth parent for a fee and is restricted in some states, including New Mexico. If you adopt a child from across state lines, you will need to follow the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC) guidelines in order to receive permission to bring your child into New Mexico.

Birth Parent Expenses

For a New Mexico adoption, you are allowed to pay for birth parent expenses. These include medical expenses, counseling services, living expenses for the birth mother (up to six weeks after the birth), legal expenses, and other expenses that are reasonably necessary for the adoption. Be sure to check with an adoption attorney or agency before you provide any expenses for birth parents.

Open Adoption

An open adoption is also called a post-adoption contract agreement. As you pursue your adoption, one question to consider is whether you are comfortable with an open adoption. Your agreement will specify the amount of contact your child will have with their birth parents through letters, pictures or visits after the birth of the baby. These visits can take place either at a neutral location or in your home. It’s important to decide what you’re comfortable with ahead of time since these agreements are legally enforceable for a New Mexico adoption.

Agencies encourage adoptive parents to consider an open adoption since there can be positive benefits for the child to have a connection to their biological family. Communicating expectations regarding your open adoption plan will help everyone to know ahead of time what to anticipate so that no one is disappointed.

Consent

In order to complete a New Mexico adoption, you must have the birth parents’ consent to adopt which releases a child for adoption. The earliest a birth mother can sign her consent forms is 48 hours after the birth of her baby for a New Mexico adoption. If the adoption involves an Indian or Native American child, then according to the Indian Child Welfare Act, consent needs to be obtained from an Indian custody.

Consent forms must contain the date, time, and place of the consent as well as the birth date, and names of the adoptive parents. Birth fathers must also sign consents when known. When a birth parent signs, they acknowledge they are waiving further notice to adoption proceedings. Once consents are signed, they cannot be withdrawn unless there is proof of fraud.

New Mexico also has a Putative Father Registry, which allows men who have fathered a child out of wedlock to file a claim of paternity. When they file for paternity, their name and address are recorded in the state paternity registry database. After receiving notice of an adoption, birth fathers have ten days to file for paternity. Additionally, birth fathers can revoke their claim to paternity.

Family hiking in the mountains on vacation, New Mexico,USA.

Foster Child Adoption

Foster care provides temporary homes for children who cannot safely reside with their parents. Although many children are reunited with their biological parents, some children become available for adoption once the parents have relinquished their rights, whether voluntarily or involuntarily.

In order to determine if foster adoption is right for you, there are a few things to consider before you begin this program. The first question to ask is whether you can handle fostering a child who does not become available for adoption. Fostering carries some risk since the goal is reunification with parents. Can you handle bringing a child into your home who might return to their parents? The second question to consider is what age child you are open to parenting. Many times, children in foster care are older than children adopted through domestic adoption. Additionally, you’ll want to consider whether you can handle a sibling group since foster adoption offers the opportunity to adopt biological siblings. The last question to consider is whether you are comfortable parenting a child with special needs. Many waiting children are available for adoption in New Mexico, and these children are typically older or may have special needs.

In order to adopt from foster care, you will need to complete a home study with a licensed caseworker from the Children, Youth, and Families Department of the state of New Mexico.

In order to become a foster parent, you need to be 21 years old, in good health, and show that you can provide a safe home for a child. Fingerprint background checks will need to be completed, and you will also have to attend foster parent training classes. This includes a local adoptive parent orientation program as well as attending 32 hours of preservice training. All foster parents are required to attend this training in order to be licensed.

For those concerned about the cost, fostering and foster adoption are typically free. In addition, you can receive some assistance to provide for your foster child’s needs as well as subsidies for adoption to help cover additional expenses like attorney fees, court costs, transportation, lodging for visits with your foster child, and health exams not covered by insurance. These subsidies are available for children from foster care who meet certain criteria, including one of the following: a child who is five years or older, from a minority ethnic background, part of a sibling group of three or more, or has a diagnosed developmental, physical, or psychological condition. If a child meets one of those criteria, you may be eligible to receive a subsidy. Always check with your caseworker concerning adoption subsidies and your specific foster situation.

The timing of when a foster child can become adopted is unique for every family. A biological parent’s rights must be terminated before an adoption can proceed, and the child must reside with the adoptive parents for six months before the adoption can be finalized. The rest is determined by whether you have met all the legal requirements and how quickly the state can act upon your petition to adopt.

International Adoption

International adoption shares many of the same steps as domestic adoption, but there are several key differences as well. If you are at least 25 years old and interested in adopting internationally, you will want to look into what adoption programs are available and whether you meet all requirements before starting any programs.

You can only pursue one international adoption at a time, so selecting a country is your first step. It’s important to choose an agency that works with your specific country since not all agencies work in countries that have adoption programs. In order to gather the research you need to make this decision before committing to a program, be sure to attend an informational meeting at an agency.

There are several factors to consider including the timing, cost, and requirements, which all vary depending on the country you choose. First, you will want to check both your agency and country’s requirements and make sure you meet the qualifications. Second, be sure to check what children are available for adoption, how much it costs, and how long the typical wait is. Most international adoption programs have waiting children who are living in orphanages or foster care. Since these countries may have children who are older or have special needs, it’s important to ask what ages you are comfortable with and if you are open to children with special needs.

Some countries require a short residency before you can adopt. You may need to make arrangements to be out of the country for several weeks or more when you travel to pick up your child.

To begin an international adoption, you will need to complete a home study through an agency that is licensed to do international adoptions. The Universal Accreditation Act requires that adoption agencies who perform international adoptions are required to complete accreditation. Your home study will cover the same requirements as a domestic adoption home study and will require you to get fingerprint background checks. After completing your home study, you will need to submit the I-600A: Application for Advancing Processing of Orphan Petition.

Once you have finished these steps, your agency will prepare a dossier to send to your child’s birth country. Upon approval, you will receive the child’s information and will be matched with a child. When the country is ready for the adoption finalization, you may be required to travel to your child’s birth country where you will finalize your adoption. Keep in mind that travel expenses are not included in the adoption fees you pay your agency.

When you arrive home, a foreign adoption decree is recognized automatically in the state of New Mexico. Adoptive parents will need to request a birth certificate within 30 days after the adoption decree is finalized. The State Registrar of Vital Statistics will issue your child’s birth certificate once they receive proof of the child’s birth date and place of birth.

We hope you have great success pursuing a New Mexico adoption. If you are looking for other parents to connect with from New Mexico, check out our parenting forums.

If you decide to pursue domestic adoption, our parenting Parent Profiles are a great place to connect with birth parents who are choosing adoption for their child.

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Sara R. Ward

Sara R. Ward is a writer, adoption advocate, and mom to three children through adoption. Her passion is helping adoptive parents and those who struggle with infertility and grief on her blog PoetsandSaints. Sara writes about parenting, marriage, and faith and has a book coming out in 2019. Follow Sara on Facebook or Instagram @SaraRWard.


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