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Adoption Laws

Notice: The information contained on this website is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional legal advice. Always seek the advice of a licensed and qualified professional. While the content of this website is frequently updated, information changes rapidly and therefore, some information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies, omissions or typographical errors.

Consent to Adoption

Who Must Consent to an Adoption [1]

A petition to adopt a minor may be granted only if written consent to a particular adoption has been executed by:

  • The mother of the minor
  • The father of the minor if the father was married to the mother at the time the minor was conceived or at any time after conception, the minor is the father’s child by adoption, or the father has otherwise legitimated the minor
  • Any person lawfully entitled to custody of the minor or empowered to consent
  • The court having jurisdiction to determine custody of the minor if the legal guardian or custodian of the person of the minor is not empowered to consent to the adoption
  • The spouse of the minor to be adopted

Consent of Child Being Adopted [2]

A child age 10 or older must consent to the adoption unless, in the child’s best interests, the court dispenses with consent.

When Parental Consent Is Not Needed[3]

Consent to adoption is not required of:

  • A parent who has abandoned a child for a period of at least 6 months
  • A parent of a child in the custody of another if the parent, for a period of at least 1 year, has failed significantly without justifiable cause, including but not limited to indigence:
    • To communicate meaningfully with the child
    • To provide for the care and support of the child as required by law or judicial decree
  • The father if the father’s consent is not required by § 25.23.040(a)(2)
  • A parent who has relinquished the right to consent
  • A parent whose parental rights have been terminated by order of the court
  • A parent judicially declared incompetent or mentally defective if the court dispenses with the parent’s consent
  • A parent of the adopted person if the adopted person is age 18 or older
  • A guardian or custodian who has failed to respond in writing to a request for consent for a period of 60 days or who, after examination of the guardian’s or custodian’s written reasons for withholding consent, is found by the court to be withholding consent unreasonably
  • The spouse of the adopted person if the requirement of consent to the adoption is waived by the court by reason of prolonged unexplained absence, unavailability, incapacity, or circumstances constituting an unreasonable withholding of consent

When Consent Can Be Executed [4]

The required consent to adoption shall be executed at any time after the birth of the child.

How Consent Must Be Executed [5]

The required consent to adoption shall be executed in the presence of the court or a person authorized to take acknowledgments. The consent is not valid unless the consent form states that the person consenting to the adoption has the right to withdraw that consent as provided in § 25.23.070(b) and unless the person consenting to the adoption acknowledges receipt of a copy of the consent form.

The person giving consent shall state in the consent form whether the child is a member of an Indian Tribe or the biological child of a member of an Indian Tribe, so that the court may determine whether the provisions of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 apply.

Revocation of Consent [6]

A consent to adoption may not be withdrawn after the entry of a decree of adoption.

A consent to adoption may be withdrawn before the entry of a decree of adoption, within 10 days after the consent is given, by delivering written notice to the person obtaining the consent. Consent may be withdrawn after the 10-day period if the court finds, after notice and opportunity to be heard is afforded to the petitioner, the person seeking the withdrawal, and the agency placing the child for adoption, that the withdrawal is in the best interests of the person to be adopted, and the court orders the withdrawal.


Criminal Background Checks for Prospective Foster and Adoptive Parents

Requirements for Foster Parents

[7]

The applicant must request a criminal history check, or provide proof of a valid fingerprint-based criminal history check, for each individual to be associated with the applicant. This requirement applies to all individuals age 16 or older who are not recipients of services and who wish to reside with the applicant. This requirement applies to each individual who, on or before April 10, 2007:

  • Does not have a valid criminal history check
  • Passed a criminal history check conducted before February 9, 2007, that was not fingerprint-based or was fingerprint-based and conducted more than 6 years before February 9, 2007

An application for licensure will not be approved if:

  • The applicant’s name appears on the centralized registry.
  • The applicant has a physical health problem or behavioral health problem that poses a significant risk to the health, safety, or well-being of children.
  • The applicant was the subject of prior adverse licensing action.
  • The individual has been convicted of any of the barrier crimes listed in 7 AAC 10.905.

In addition to the criminal history check, the department will review its child protection records and previous licensing records with respect to the applicant.

For the purpose of determining whether the home of a relative meets the requirements for placement of a child, the department shall conduct a criminal background check from State and national criminal justice information available under ch. 12.62. The department may conduct a fingerprint background check on any member of the relative’s household who is age 16 or older when the relative requests placement of the child.

Requirements for Adoptive Parents

[8]

This issue is not addressed in statute. The following information is from the Alaska Administrative Code.

An agency shall conduct a home study for all applicants in the family being considered as an adoptive or guardianship home by the agency. The agency shall obtain the results of a check for a history of abuse, violence, or criminal background for all adults living in the home, and an evaluation shall be made of the suitability of the home in light of any finding of such history.

Except when placing a child under emergency conditions, an adoption or guardianship home may not be approved if a person in the prospective adoption or guardianship home has a disqualification described in 7 AAC 56.210(b). An individual may be disqualified if:

  • The individual’s name appears on the centralized registry of child abuse and neglect.
  • The individual has a physical health problem or behavioral health problem that poses a significant risk to the health, safety, or well-being of children.
  • The individual was the subject of prior adverse licensing action.

The agency shall review the Alaska Sexual Offender Registry before placement of a child and shall make a check of local court records before placement or on the first day that the court is open following the placement of a child.

An agency shall request a State and Federal report of criminal history record information for each adult member of an applicant’s household. The individual may be disqualified if he or she has been convicted of a barrier crime, as described in 7 AAC 10.905.

Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights [9]

The parent’s parental rights may be terminated if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that:

  • The child has been subjected to conduct or conditions described below.
  • The parent has not remedied the conduct or conditions in the home that place the child at substantial risk of harm.
  • The department has complied with requirements concerning reasonable efforts.

Any of the following may be grounds for termination:

  • The parent has abandoned the child.
  • The parent is unable to discharge his or her parental duties due to:
    • Emotional illness, mental illness, or mental deficiency
    • Use of alcohol or controlled substances
    • A conviction and incarceration for a felony, and the parent has not arranged for the child’s care
  • The parent has subjected the child to circumstances that pose a substantial risk of harm, including, but not limited to, abandonment, torture, chronic mental injury, chronic physical harm, or sexual abuse.
  • The parent’s conduct or neglect has resulted in serious physical or mental injury to the child.
  • The child has been in foster care for 15 of the most recent 22 months, and reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have failed.
  • The parent has been convicted of:
    • Homicide of a parent of the child or a child
    • Aiding, abetting, attempting, or soliciting to commit a homicide of a parent of the child or a child
    • A felony assault that resulted in serious bodily injury to a child
  • The child has been sexually abused as a result of the parent’s conduct or failure to protect the child.
  • The parent has willfully failed to provide the child with needed medical treatment.
  • The child has committed an illegal act as a result of pressure, guidance, or approval from the parent.
  • Parental rights to another child of the parent have been involuntarily terminated and conditions that led to the termination have not been corrected.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parental Rights [10]

The Department of Health and Social Services shall file a petition for termination of parental rights when the child has been in foster care for at least 15 of the most recent 22 months unless:

  • The department has documented compelling reasons why termination of parental rights would not be in the best interests of the child. This may include the child being cared for by a relative.
  • The department is required to make reasonable efforts according to the case plan and has not provided to the parent the family support services that the department has determined are necessary for the safe return of the child to the home.

Circumstances Allowing Reinstatement of Parental Rights [11]

After a termination order is entered and before the entry of an adoption or legal guardianship decree, a person who voluntarily relinquished parental rights to a child under this section may request a review hearing, upon a showing of good cause, to vacate the termination order and reinstate parental rights relating to that child. A court shall vacate a termination order if the person shows, by clear and convincing evidence, that reinstatement of parental rights is in the best interests of the child and that the person is rehabilitated and capable of providing the care and guidance that will serve the moral, emotional, mental, and physical welfare of the child.

Home Study Requirements for Prospective Parents in Domestic Adoption

Who Must Be Studied [12]

An agency shall conduct a home study for all applicants in the family being considered as an adoptive home.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study [13]

The investigation of the petitioner shall be made by the Department of Health and Social Services or any other qualified agency or person designated by the court.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents [14]

Any husband and wife together or unmarried adult may adopt a child.

In regulation: The application for adoption must include evidence that the applicant has completed any orientation or training required by the agency.

Elements of a Home Study [15]

The home study must include at least the following:

  • One face-to-face interview with all individuals living in the home
  • One onsite home visit
  • An assessment of the capabilities, willingness, and readiness of the prospective adoptive parent to properly parent a child not born to the parent
  • A State and Federal criminal history record check for each adult member of the household
  • At least three positive written references on the applicant, at least two of which are from persons unrelated to the applicant

The agency shall obtain all available information about each adoptive applicant regarding the following:

  • Motivation and level of preparedness for adoption
  • Current residence and the suitability of the family to provide a safe and healthy living environment for a child
  • Physical, mental, and emotional health status of all persons living in the home
  • The quality of marital and family relationships
  • The attitude of the extended family and friends regarding adoption
  • The applicant’s feelings about his or her childhood and parents, including any history of abuse or neglect
  • Values, feelings, and practices in regard to parenting, child discipline, and care
  • Sensitivity to different socioeconomic, cultural, and ethnic groups in relation to the family’s ability to properly parent an adoptive child and to maintain the cultural or ethnic identity of the child
  • Behavior, background, special needs status, or other characteristics of a potential adoptive child that the family can and cannot accept and why, and a discussion of the prospective adoptive parent(s)’ preparation, willingness, and ability to provide proper care for such a child
  • Financial status and ability to support a child, including income, financial resources, debts, expenses, employment history, insurance coverage, and the family’s ability to address possible ongoing needs of the child

Grounds for Withholding Approval [16]

Except when placing a child under emergency conditions, an adoption home may not be approved if a person in the home has a disqualification described below. In an emergency placement, an agency shall complete required clearances on persons in the home as soon as possible following the placement. However, the agency shall review the Alaska Sexual Offender Registry before placement of a child and a check of local court records before placement or on the first day that the court is open following the placement of a child.

A person may not be approved as an adoptive parent if:

  • The person has record of having committed a barrier crime.
  • The person’s name appears on the central registry.
  • The person has a physical or behavioral health problem that poses a significant risk to the health, safety, or well-being of children.
  • The person was the subject of prior adverse licensing action.

When Studies Must Be Completed [17]

A written report of the investigation shall be filed with the court by the investigator before the petition is heard as long as the report is filed within 30 days of the designation by the court of the department, agency, or person to make the investigation.

In regulation: If a child has not been placed with the adoptive applicants within 1 year of the time the home study is completed, the home study must be made up-to-date within the 30-day period before a child is placed in the home. The written update must include:

  • A review and any required updating of each category of information in the adoptive home study
  • Documentation of at least one additional visit within the past 6 months to the home when all individuals living in the home were present

Postplacement Study Requirements [18]

During the postplacement period, the agency shall document any changes in the adoptive family in health, financial condition, or composition that may affect the child.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions [19]

Unless directed by the court, an investigation and report is not required in cases in which a stepparent is the petitioner or the adopted child is within the fourth degree of lineal or collateral consanguinity to the petitioner.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements [20]

Placement of children in or from another State for possible adoption are subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

Foster to Adopt Placements

This issue is not addressed in the statutes and regulations reviewed.

Infant Safe Haven Laws

Infant’s Age [21]

An infant who is younger than 21 days of age may be surrendered.

Who May Relinquish the Infant

Alaska Stat. § 47.10.013'

An infant may be surrendered by his or her parent.

Who May Receive the Infant [22]

The infant may be left in the physical custody of:

  • A person the parent reasonably believes would provide for the health and safety of the infant and who would act appropriately to care for the infant
  • A peace officer, community health aide, physician, or hospital employee
  • A person who is employed by or is a volunteer for a fire department or emergency medical service, if the person is acting within the scope of the person’s fire department or emergency medical service duties

Responsibilities of the Safe Haven Provider [23]

A person to whom an infant is surrendered shall:

  • Act appropriately to care for the infant
  • Inform the parent that the parent may, but is not required to, answer any questions regarding the name, identity, and medical history of the infant and parents of the infant
  • Ask the parent if the parent wishes to relinquish the parent’s parental rights and release the infant for adoption
  • Immediately notify the nearest office of the Department of Health and Social Services that the infant has been surrendered

If the parent indicates that he or she does wish to relinquish the child for adoption, the person shall contact the department so that the parent can discuss that option with the department.

Immunity for the Provider [24]

An individual, agency, facility, or entity that receives a safely abandoned infant under this section is not liable for civil damages for failure to discharge the duties listed above.

Protection for Relinquishing Parent [25]

A parent may not be criminally prosecuted for surrendering a child of the parent if the child:

  • Is an infant who is younger than 21 days of age
  • Is surrendered in the manner described in § 47.10.013(c)
  • Is not the subject of a court order affecting custody of the child

There must be no evidence that the infant has been physically injured before abandonment.

Effect on Parental Rights[26]

When an infant is surrendered as described in this section, the infant’s parent is considered to have abandoned the infant safely. The parent’s legal duty to support the infant is extinguished if the parent, without expressing an intent to return for the infant, leaves the infant in the physical custody of a designated safe haven entity.

Regulation of Private Domestic Adoption Expenses

Birth Parent Expenses Allowed[27]

Payments in connection with the following expenses are permitted:

  • Expenses incurred in connection with the birth of the child
  • Medical or hospital care received by the mother or minor during the mother’s prenatal care and confinement
  • Services related to the adoption that were received by the petitioner, either natural parent, or any other person

Birth Parent Expenses Not Allowed

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Allowable Payments for Arranging Adoption

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Allowable Payments for Relinquishing Child

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Allowable Fees Charged by Department/Agency[28]

Before placing the child into a home, the child-placing agency must have a written agreement with the adoptive parents. The agreement must specify the fees and schedule of payments.

The reasonable fee for a service will not exceed the actual cost to the Department of Health and Social Services of providing the service. The adoptive parents’ ability to pay all or part of an established fee will be determined according to the formula set out in regulation. A full discount on a fee will be allowed to adoptive parents whose income is insufficient to allow payment of any amount toward the fee.

Accounting of Expenses Required by Court[29]

The petitioner must file a full accounting report, in a manner acceptable to the court, of all disbursements of anything of value to be made in connection with the adoption. The report is to be verified and signed by the petitioner.

The Rights of Unmarried Fathers

Legal Definition of ‘Father’

Alaska Stat. § 39.50.200(7)

‘Mother’ or ‘father’ includes a biological parent, an adoptive parent, and a stepparent.

Paternity Registry

Alaska Stat. §§ 18.50.165; 25.20.055

The State registrar shall prepare a form for use in acknowledging paternity under § 25.20.055.

When a birth occurs to an unmarried woman in a hospital, or en route to a hospital to which the woman is later admitted, the hospital shall ensure that a staff member:

  • Meets with the woman before her release from the hospital
  • Attempts to meet with the father of the unmarried woman’s child, if possible
  • Presents to the mother and, if possible, the father, a pamphlet or statement regarding the rights and responsibilities of a natural parent
  • Provides to the mother and, if possible, the father, all forms, statements, or agreements necessary to voluntarily establish a parent and child relationship, including an acknowledgment of paternity form prepared under § 18.50.165
  • On request of the mother and father, assists the father in completing specific forms, statements, or agreements necessary to establish a parent and child relationship between the father and the child
  • On request of the mother and father, mails a completed voluntary acknowledgment of paternity form to the State registrar for filing

When a birth occurs to an unmarried woman who is not in a hospital for the birth nor admitted to a hospital immediately after the birth, and the birth is attended by a physician, nurse-midwife, or direct-entry midwife, the physician, nurse-midwife, or direct-entry midwife shall perform the duties described above or ensure that an agent performs those duties.

When a birth occurs in a situation that is not covered by either situation described above, any adult may, upon request of the father and mother, assist them in filing a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity form with the State registrar under § 18.50.165.

Alternate Means to Establish Paternity [30]

A child born out of wedlock is legitimated and considered the heir of the putative parent when:

  • The putative parent subsequently marries the undisputed parent of the child.
  • For acknowledgments made before July 1, 1997, the putative parent acknowledges, in writing, being a parent of the child.
  • For acknowledgments made on or after July 1, 1997, the putative father and the mother both sign a form for acknowledging paternity under § 18.50.165.
  • The putative parent is determined, upon sufficient evidence, by a superior court without a jury or by another tribunal, to be a parent of the child. Acceptable evidence includes:
    • Evidence that the putative parent’s conduct and bearing toward the child, either by word or act, indicates that the child is the child of the putative parent
    • The results of a genetic test that is of a type generally acknowledged as reliable

A genetic test that establishes a probability of parentage at 95 percent or higher creates a presumption of parentage that may be rebutted only by clear and convincing evidence.

Required Information [31]

The form must include:

  • A statement that the man who signs the form is acknowledging that he is the natural father of the child named in the form and that he assumes the parental duty of support of that child
  • The address and Social Security number of both parents of the child named in the form
  • Signature lines for both parents
  • A signature line for either a witness or notary public
  • On and after July 1, 1997, a statement that sets out the legal consequences to and the rights and responsibilities of the mother and the man acknowledging paternity of signing the form

Revocation of Claim to Paternity[32]

The mother and the man acknowledging paternity must be notified that, unless fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact is shown in accordance with § 25.20.050, the acknowledgment may only be rescinded by the earlier of the following dates:

  • 60 days after the date of the person’s signature
  • The date of initiation of an administrative or judicial procedure to establish support of the child in which the person is a party

Access to Information

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Use of Advertising and Facilitators in Adoptive Placements

Use of Advertisement

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Use of Intermediaries/Facilitators

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

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

Who May Adopt [33]

The following persons may adopt:

  • A husband and wife together
  • An unmarried adult
  • The unmarried mother or father of the person to be adopted
  • A married person without his or her spouse joining as a petitioner if the person to be adopted is not the spouse, and if:
    • The spouse is a parent of the person to be adopted and consents to the adoption.
    • The petitioner and his or her spouse are legally separated.
    • The spouse fails to join in the petition or to agree to the adoption due to prolonged unexplained absence, unavailability, incapacity, or circumstances constituting an unreasonable withholding of consent.

Who May Be Adopted

Ann. Stat. § 25.23.010

Any person may be adopted.

Who May Place a Child for Adoption [34]

A child may be placed for adoption by any of the following:

  • The mother or father
  • Any person lawfully entitled to custody of the minor or empowered to consent, including a licensed agency

Post-Adoption Laws

Access to Adoption Records

Intestate Inheritance Rights for Adopted Persons

Postadoption Contact Agreements Between Birth and Adoptive Families

Source

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

References

  1. Alaska Stat. § 25.23.040
  2. Alaska Stat. § 25.23.040
  3. Alaska Stat. § 25.23.050
  4. Alaska Stat. § 25.23.060
  5. Alaska Stat. § 25.23.060
  6. Alaska Stat. § 25.23.070
  7. Alaska Stat. § 47.14.100(j); Admin. Code Tit. 7, §§ 56.070; 56.210
  8. Ala. Code §§ 38-13-3(2) & (5); 38-13-2(30)
  9. Alaska Stat. §§ 47.10.011; 47.10.080; 47.10.086; 47.10.088
  10. Alaska Stat. § 47.10.088
  11. Alaska Stat. § 47.10.089
  12. Admin. Code Tit. 7, § 56.660
  13. Alaska Stat. § 25.23.100
  14. Alaska Stat. § 25.23.020; Admin. Code Tit. 7, § 56.650
  15. Admin. Code Tit. 7, § 56.660
  16. Admin. Code Tit. 7, §§ 56.660; 56.210
  17. Alaska Stat. § 25.23.100; Admin. Code Tit. 7, § 56.660
  18. Admin. Code Tit. 7, § 56.620
  19. Alaska Stat. § 25.23.100
  20. Alaska Stat. § 47.70.010
  21. Alaska Stat. §§ 11.81.500; 47.10.013
  22. Alaska Stat. § 47.10.013
  23. Alaska Stat. § 47.10.013
  24. Alaska Stat. § 47.10.013
  25. Alaska Stat. § 11.81.500
  26. Alaska Stat. § 47.10.013
  27. Alaska Stat. § 25.23.090
  28. Admin. Code Tit. 7 §§ 56.600; 80.100
  29. Alaska Stat. § 25.23.090
  30. Alaska Stat. § 25.20.050
  31. Alaska Stat. § 18.50.165
  32. Alaska Stat. § 18.50.165
  33. Ann. Stat. § 25.23.020
  34. Ann. Stat. §§ 25.23.040; 25.23.240