Delaware

Adoption Laws

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Consent to Adoption

Who Must Consent to an Adoption Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 13, §§ 908

The consent to the adoption shall be granted by the department or by the licensed or authorized agency in whom the parental rights are vested.

In the case of an adoption by a stepparent or blood relative, the consent to the adoption shall be granted by the mother of the child and the birth father and any presumed father of the child.

If the individual with the right to consent is under age 18, this fact shall not be a bar to the giving of consent nor render the consent invalid.

Consent of Child Being Adopted Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 13, § 907

A child age 14 or older must provide written consent unless the court finds it in the child’s best interests to waive consent.

When Parental Consent Is Not Needed Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 13, § 1103(a)

The parent’s consent is not required when his or her parental rights have been involuntarily terminated, it appears to be in the child’s best interests, and one or more of the following grounds exist:

  • The parent has abandoned the child.
  • The parent is unable to discharge parental duties due to mental incompetence.
  • The parent has been convicted of a felony in which a child has been harmed or endangered.
  • The parent is unable or has failed to plan adequately for the child’s needs.
  • Parental rights over a sibling of the child have been involuntarily terminated.
  • The parent has subjected a child to torture, chronic abuse, sexual abuse, and/or life threatening abuse.
  • A child has suffered unexplained serious physical injury, near death, or death that resulted from the intentional or reckless conduct or willful neglect of the parent.

When Consent Can Be Executed Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 13, § 1106(c)

A mother whose consent to the termination of parental rights is required may execute a consent only after the child is born. Consent by the father or presumed father may be executed either before or after the child is born.

How Consent Must Be Executed Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 13, §§ 907; 1106(c)

A petition for adoption shall contain a consent to the proposed adoption. The consent shall be in writing, notarized, and attached to the petition as an exhibit. If consent is obtained or given outside this State, it must be executed in accordance with this section and § 908 of this title.

A consent executed by a parent or guardian must be signed or confirmed in the presence of:

  • A judge of a court of record
  • An individual designated by a judge to take consents
  • An employee designated by an agency to take consents
  • A lawyer other than a lawyer who is representing an adoptive parent or the agency to which parental rights will be transferred
  • A commissioned officer on active duty in the military service of the United States if the individual executing the consent is in military service
  • An officer of the foreign service or a consular officer of the United States in another country if the individual executing the consent is in that country

Revocation of Consent Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 13, § 909

In any case in which consent has been given in accordance with the provisions of § 907 of this title and the person, department, licensed agency, authorized agency, or child over age 14 giving the consent desires to withdraw the consent, he or she shall file, within 60 days from the date of the filing of the adoption petition containing the consent, a petition asking the court to revoke his or her consent and dismiss the adoption petition. The family court shall refer the petition to revoke and dismiss to the department or licensed agency, and the department or licensed agency shall, within 30 days, make a formal report to the court. Promptly upon receipt of the report, the court shall rule upon the petition.

Criminal Background Checks for Prospective Foster and Adoptive Parents

Requirements for Foster Parents [1]

All prospective foster parents are required to submit fingerprints and other necessary information in order to obtain:

  • The person’s entire criminal history record from the Delaware State Police or a statement that the State Police Central Repository contains no information relating to that person
  • The person’s entire Federal criminal history record
  • A certification from the department as to whether the individual is named in the Central Register as the perpetrator of reported child abuse

Costs associated with obtaining the above information shall be borne by the State.

All information required above shall be forwarded to the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families (DSCYF), which will assess the information and make a determination of suitability based upon the types of offenses, recency, record since the offenses, and responsibilities of the position that the individual is seeking to obtain. DSCYF must exercise case-by-case judgment on the results.

Persons convicted of a sexually related offense or other offenses against children shall be prohibited from foster care without consideration of other criteria. The prohibited offenses include:

  • Incest, unlawful sexual contact, or rape
  • Continuous sexual abuse, solicitation, or exploitation of a child
  • Abandonment of a child
  • Unlawfully dealing in material depicting a child engaging in a prohibited sexual act
  • Murder of a child
  • Endangering the welfare of a child

The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 prohibits individuals from becoming foster parents if they have the following felony convictions:

  • Child abuse or neglect; spousal abuse; crimes against children, including child pornography; and crimes involving violence, including rape, sexual assault, and homicide committed at any time
  • Physical assault, battery, and drug-related offenses committed within the past 5 years

Requirements for Adoptive Parents Ann. Code Tit. 31, § 309; Admin. Code § 9-300-301, Rule 26 & 27

All prospective adoptive parents are required to submit fingerprints and other necessary information in order to obtain:

  • The person’s entire criminal history record from the Delaware State Police or a statement that the State Police Central Repository contains no information relating to that person
  • The person’s entire Federal criminal history record
  • A certification from the department as to whether the individual is named in the Central Register as the perpetrator of reported child abuse

Costs associated with obtaining the above information shall be borne by the State.

All information required above shall be forwarded to DSCYF, which will assess the information and make a determination suitability based upon the types of offenses, recency, record since the offenses, and responsibilities of the position that the individual is seeking to obtain. DSCYF must exercise case-by-case judgment on the results.

Persons convicted of a sexually related offense or other offenses against children shall be prohibited from adopting without consideration of other criteria. The prohibited offenses include:

  • Incest, unlawful sexual contact, or rape
  • Continuous sexual abuse, solicitation, or exploitation of a child
  • Abandonment of a child
  • Unlawfully dealing in material depicting a child engaging in a prohibited sexual act
  • Murder of a child
  • Endangering the welfare of a child

The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 prohibits individuals from becoming adoptive parents if they have the following felony convictions:

  • Child abuse or neglect; spousal abuse; crimes against children, including child pornography; and crimes involving violence, including rape, sexual assault, and homicide committed at any time
  • Physical assault, battery, and drug-related offenses committed within the past 5 years

Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights Ann. Code Tit. 13, § 1103

The procedure for termination of parental rights may be initiated whenever it appears to be in the child’s best interests and that one or more of the following grounds exist:

  • The child has been abandoned.
  • The parent has abandoned a baby in accordance with Tit. 16, § 907A and failed to manifest an intent to exercise parental rights within 30 days.
  • The parent is found by the court to be mentally incompetent and, from evidence of two qualified psychiatrists selected by the court, found to be unable to discharge parental responsibilities in the foreseeable future.
  • The parent has been found by a court of competent jurisdiction to have:
    • Committed a felony-level offense against the person in which the victim was a child
    • Aided, abetted, attempted, conspired, or solicited to commit an offense described above
    • Committed or attempted to commit the offense of Dealing in Children, as set forth in Tit. 11, § 1100
    • Committed the felony-level offense of endangering the welfare of a child
  • The parent’s parental rights over a sibling of the child have been involuntarily terminated in a prior proceeding.
  • The parent has subjected a child to torture, chronic abuse, sexual abuse, and/or life-threatening abuse.
  • The child has suffered unexplained serious physical injury, near death, or death under such circumstances that indicate that such injuries, near death, or death resulted from the intentional or reckless conduct or willful neglect of the parent.

A procedure to terminate parental rights may also be initiated when it is found that the parent has failed to plan adequately for the child’s physical needs or mental and emotional health and development, and one or more of the following conditions are met:

  • In the case of a child in the care of the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families:
    • The child has been in the care of the department for 1 year, or for 6 months in the case of a child who comes into care as an infant, or there is a history of previous placement or placements of the child.
    • There is a history of neglect, abuse, or lack of care of the child.
    • The parent is incapable of discharging parental responsibilities due to extended or repeated incarceration.
    • The parent is not able or willing to assume prompt legal and physical custody of the child, and to pay for the child’s support in accordance with the parent’s financial means.
    • Failure to terminate the relationship of parent and child will result in continued emotional instability or physical risk to the child.
  • In the case of a child in the home of a stepparent, guardian, permanent guardian, or blood relative:
    • The child has resided in the home of the stepparent, guardian, permanent guardian, or blood relative for a period of at least 1 year or for a period of 6 months in the case of an infant.
    • The court finds the parent is incapable of discharging parental responsibilities, and there appears to be little likelihood that the parent will be able to discharge such parental responsibilities in the near future.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parental Rights Ann. Code Tit. 13, § 1103

The court shall not terminate a parent’s rights solely because the parent, in good faith, provides for his or her child, in lieu of medical treatment, treatment by spiritual means alone through prayer.

Circumstances Allowing Reinstatement of Parental Rights

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Home Study Requirements for Prospective Parents in Domestic Adoption

Who Must Be Studied Citation: Code of Regs. 9-200-201, Rule 188

The adoptive parents and other members of the household must be included in the study.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 13, § 904

The preplacement evaluation must be completed by the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families (DSCYF) or a licensed agency.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 31, § 903; Code of Regs. 9-200-201, Rules 190, 191

A person who is at least age 21 may adopt. The person may be single, married, divorced, or legally separated.

In regulation: The adoptive parent(s) must have sufficient income to meet the needs of the family.

Members of the household must be free of communicable diseases, specific illnesses, or disabilities that would either endanger the health of the children or interfere with the capability of the household to provide care for the child. Disabilities of adoptive parent(s) or household members are considered only as they affect the ability of the household to care for the child.

Elements of a Home Study Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 31, § 309; Code of Regs. 9-200-201, Rules 189, 192 through 196

All prospective adoptive parents are required to submit fingerprints and other necessary information in order to obtain:

  • A report of the individual’s entire criminal history record from the Delaware State Police
  • A report of the individual’s entire Federal criminal history record
  • A certification from DSCYF as to whether the individual is named in the central register as the perpetrator in a report of child abuse

In regulation: An agency shall have three written references for the adoptive parent(s) or telephone notes on such references. At least two of these references shall be persons not related to the adoptive parent(s) by blood or marriage.

The agency shall conduct at least one home visit and meet with each person who lives in the adoptive home.

The agency shall require that:

  • A single adoptive parent or an adoptive parent couple who both work outside the home have a plan for caring for children during their absence.
  • Adoptive parent(s) who conduct a business in their home demonstrate that the activities related to this business will not interfere with the care of the children.
  • An adoptive home is reasonably safe, in good repair, and at least comparable in appearance and maintenance to other family homes in the community.
  • The home and the exterior around the home are free from objects, materials, and conditions that constitute a danger to the children served.
  • An adoptive home shall be in compliance with State and local standards, ordinances, and regulations for residential use.

Grounds for Withholding Approval Citation: Code of Regs. 9-200-201, Rule 188

Approval of an application will be denied if the adoptive parent(s) or other members of the household have convictions, current indictment, or substantial evidence of involvement in any criminal activity involving violence against a person, child abuse or neglect, serious sexual misconduct, gross irresponsibility, disregard for the safety of others, or serious violations of accepted standards of honesty or ethical conduct.

The agency may, at its own discretion, make exemptions to the above requirement when the agency documents that the health, safety, and well-being of children would not be endangered.

When Studies Must Be Completed Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 13, § 904; Code of Regs. 9-200-201, Rules 199

An adoptive placement shall not be made until a preplacement evaluation that complies with the Delaware Requirements for Child Placing Agencies has been completed.

In regulation:An agency shall not approve an adoptive home unless a final written evaluation has been completed. A child shall not be placed in a home without a current written evaluation completed within 1 year prior to the date of placement.

Postplacement Study Requirements Citation: Code of Regs. 9-200-201, Rule 205

An agency shall arrange regular postplacement visits to the adoptive family, including home or office contacts. The initial visit shall occur within the first 4 weeks of placement and a minimum of two subsequent visits shall be made. Each member of the household shall be interviewed during the period of supervision.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 13, § 904

No petition for adoption shall be presented unless prior to the filing of the petition the child sought to be adopted has been placed for adoption by DSCYF or a licensed, and the placement has been supervised by DSCYF or the agency. No such placement or supervision shall be necessary in the case of:

  • A child sought to be adopted by a stepparent or a blood relative
  • A child sought to be adopted by a guardian as long as guardianship has been granted for at least 6 months prior to filing the adoption petition

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements Citation: Code of Regs. 9-200-201, Rule 66

A child-placing agency shall, when accepting for placement any child who resides in another State or placing a child in another State, comply, as appropriate, with the terms 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 Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 16, §§ 902; 907A

A baby may be relinquished to a safe haven provider. ‘Baby’ shall mean a child not more than 14 days old, except that for hospitals and their employees and volunteers, ‘baby’ shall mean a child reasonably believed to be not more than 14 days old.

Who May Relinquish the Infant Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 16, § 907A

A person may voluntarily surrender a baby.

Who May Receive the Infant Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 16, § 907A

A baby may be surrendered directly to an employee or volunteer of the emergency department of a Delaware hospital inside of the emergency department provided that said baby is surrendered alive, unharmed, and in a safe place therein.

Responsibilities of the Safe Haven Provider Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 16, § 907A

A Delaware hospital shall be authorized to take temporary emergency protective custody of the baby who is surrendered pursuant to this section. The hospital shall either make reasonable efforts to directly obtain pertinent medical history information pertaining to the baby and the baby’s family or attempt to provide the person with a postage-paid medical history information questionnaire.

The hospital shall attempt to provide the person leaving the baby with the following:

  • Information about the Safe Arms program
  • Information about adoption and counseling services, including information that confidential adoption services are available and information about the benefits of engaging in a regular, voluntary adoption process
  • Brochures with telephone numbers for public or private agencies that provide counseling or adoption services

The hospital shall attempt to provide the person surrendering the baby with the number of the baby’s identification bracelet to aid in linking the person to the baby at a later date, if reunification is sought. Such an identification number is an identification aid only and does not permit the person possessing the identification number to take custody of the baby on demand.

If a person possesses an identification number linking the person to a baby surrendered at a hospital and parental rights have not already been terminated, possession of the identification number creates a presumption that the person has standing to participate in an action. Possession of the identification number does not create a presumption of maternity, paternity, or custody.

Immunity for the Provider Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 16, § 908

A hospital, hospital employee, or hospital volunteer who accepts temporary emergency protective custody of a baby is absolutely immune from civil and administrative liability for any act of commission or omission in connection with the acceptance of that temporary emergency protective custody or the provision of care for the baby when left at the hospital while said baby is in the hospital’s temporary emergency protective custody, except for negligence or intentional acts.

Protection for Relinquishing Parent Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 16, § 907A; Tit. 11, § 1102A

The person who surrenders the baby shall not be required to provide any information pertaining to his or her identity, nor shall the hospital inquire as to same. If the identity of the person is known to the hospital, the hospital shall keep the identity confidential.

When the person who surrenders a baby manifests a desire to remain anonymous, the division shall neither initiate nor conduct an investigation to determine the identity of such person, and no court shall order such an investigation unless there is good cause to suspect child abuse or neglect other than the act of surrendering such baby.

In any prosecution for an offense of abandoning or endangering a child, it is a defense if the person surrendered care or custody of a baby directly to an employee or volunteer of a hospital emergency department inside of the emergency department provided that said baby is surrendered alive, unharmed, and in a safe place therein.

Effect on Parental Rights Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 16, § 907A

Any hospital taking a baby into temporary emergency protective custody shall immediately notify the division and the State Police of its actions. The division shall obtain ex partecustody and physically appear at the hospital within 4 hours of notification unless there are exigent circumstances. Immediately after being notified of the surrender, the State Police shall submit an inquiry to the Delaware Missing Children Information Clearinghouse.

The division shall notify the community that a baby has been abandoned and taken into temporary emergency protective custody by publishing notice to that effect in a newspaper of statewide circulation. The notice must be published at least three times over a 3-week period immediately following the surrender of the baby unless the division has relinquished custody. The notice, at a minimum, shall contain the place, date, and time where the baby was surrendered; the baby’s sex, race, approximate age, identifying marks, and any other information the division deems necessary for the baby’s identification; and a statement that such abandonment shall be:

  • The surrendering person’s irrevocable consent to the termination of all parental rights, if any, of such person on the ground of abandonment
  • The surrendering person’s irrevocable waiver of any right to notice of, or opportunity to participate in, any termination of parental rights proceeding involving such child, unless such surrendering person manifests an intent to exercise parental rights and responsibilities within 30 days of such abandonment

Regulation of Private Domestic Adoption Expenses

Birth Parent Expenses Allowed Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 13, § 928

The only payments permitted are court costs and legal fees.

Birth Parent Expenses Not Allowed Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 13, § 928

No other payment is allowed.

Allowable Payments for Arranging Adoption Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 13, § 928

No person or organization shall receive any remuneration in connection with an adoption.

Allowable Payments for Relinquishing Child Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 13, § 928

No birth parent shall receive any contribution, fee, subsidy, or compensation from any person or organization for the placement of a child for adoption.

Allowable Fees Charged by Department/Agency Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 13, §§ 916; 928; Code of Reg., 9-200-201, 2.11.16.1

Court costs shall be paid by the petitioner. The Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families or a licensed agency may charge a service fee in the amount not to exceed the cost of services rendered.

In regulation: When fees are charged, an agency shall have a policy, clearly written in common language, describing its fee structure. This policy shall include a description of all fees for services and of the conditions under which fees are charged, reduced, waived, or refunded.

Accounting of Expenses Required by Court Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 13, § 906(10)

An affidavit is to be attached to the adoption petition stating the amount of service fees charged by all agencies and other expenses paid and attesting that no intermediary assisted in locating the child.

The Rights of Unmarried Fathers

Legal Definition of Father Ann. Code tit. 13, § 8-102

An acknowledged father is a man who has established a father-child relationship under subchapter III of this chapter. An adjudicated father is a man who has been adjudicated by a court of competent jurisdiction to be the father of a child.

An alleged father is a man who alleges himself to be, or is alleged to be, the genetic father or a possible genetic father of a child, but whose paternity has not been determined. The term does not include:

A presumed father is a man who, by operation of law under § 8-204 of this title, is recognized as the father of a child until that status is rebutted or confirmed in a judicial proceeding.

The term ‘determination of parentage’ means the establishment of the parent-child relationship by the signing of a valid acknowledgment of paternity under subchapter III of this chapter or adjudication by the court.

Paternity Registry Ann. Code tit. 13, §§ 8-401; 8-402; 8-405

A registry of paternity is established in the Office of Vital Statistics.

Except as otherwise provided in § 8-405 [see below], a man who desires to be notified of a proceeding for adoption of, or termination of parental rights regarding, a child that he may have fathered must register with the registry of paternity before the birth of the child or within 30 days after the birth of the child. A man is not required to register if:

  • A father-child relationship between the man and the child has been established under this chapter or other law.
  • The man commences a proceeding to adjudicate his paternity before the court has terminated his parental rights.

If a child has attained 1 year of age, notice of a proceeding for adoption of or termination of parental rights regarding the child must be given to every alleged father of the child, whether or not he has registered with the Office of Vital Statistics.

Alternate Means to Establish Paternity Ann. Code tit. 13, §§ 8-201; 8-204

The father-child relationship is established between a man and a child by:

  • An unrebutted presumption of the man’s paternity of the child under § 8-204
  • An effective acknowledgment of paternity by the man, unless the acknowledgment has been rescinded or successfully challenged
  • An adjudication of the man’s paternity
  • Adoption of the child by the man
  • The man’s having consented to assisted reproduction by a woman that resulted in the birth of the child

A man is presumed to be the father of a child if:

  • He and the mother of the child are married to each other, and the child is born during the marriage.
  • He and the mother of the child were married to each other, and the child is born within 300 days after the marriage is terminated by death, annulment, declaration of invalidity, or divorce.
  • Before the birth of the child, he and the mother of the child married each other in apparent compliance with law, even if the attempted marriage is or could be declared invalid, and the child is born during the invalid marriage or within 300 days after its termination by death, annulment, declaration of invalidity, or divorce.
  • After the birth of the child, he and the mother of the child married each other in apparent compliance with law, whether or not the marriage is or could be declared invalid, and he voluntarily asserted his paternity of the child, and:
    • The assertion is in a record filed with the Office of Vital Statistics.
    • He agreed to be and is named as the child’s father on the child’s birth certificate.
    • He promised in a record to support the child as his own.
  • For the first 2 years of the child’s life, he resided in the same household with the child and openly held out the child as his own.

Required Information Ann. Code tit. 13, § 8-411

The Office of Vital Statistics shall prepare a form for registering with the agency. The form must require the signature of the registrant. The form must state that the form is signed under penalty of perjury. The form must also state that:

  • A timely registration entitles the registrant to notice of a proceeding for adoption of the child or termination of the registrant’s parental rights.
  • A timely registration does not commence a proceeding to establish paternity.
  • The information disclosed on the form may be used against the registrant to establish paternity.
  • Services to assist in establishing paternity are available to the registrant through the support-enforcement agency.
  • The registrant should also register in another State if conception or birth of the child occurred in the other State.
  • Information on registries of other States is available from the Office of Vital Statistics and the support enforcement agency.
  • Procedures exist to rescind the registration of a claim of paternity.

Revocation of Claim to Paternity Ann. Code tit. 13, § 8-413

A registrant may rescind his registration at any time by sending to the registry a rescission in a record signed or otherwise authenticated by him and witnessed or notarized.

Access to Information Ann. Code tit. 13, § 8-412(b)

Information contained in the registry is confidential and only may be released on request to:

  • A court or a person designated by the court
  • The mother of the child who is the subject of the registration
  • An agency authorized by other law to receive the information
  • A licensed child-placing agency
  • A support-enforcement agency
  • A party or the party’s attorney in a proceeding under this chapter, or in a proceeding for adoption, or for termination of parental rights regarding a child who is the subject of the registration
  • The registry of paternity in another State

Use of Advertising and Facilitators in Adoptive Placements

Use of Advertisement Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 13, § 930

Only the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families or a licensed agency may advertise in this State regarding the availability of adoption services or for the placement of a child for the purpose of adoption.

Use of Intermediaries/Facilitators Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 13, §§ 904; 906; 928

No placement for an identified adoption in which an intermediary has been involved shall be approved. All petitions for adoption shall have attached an affidavit attesting that no intermediary assisted in locating the child.

No person or organization that is in any way connected with an adoption shall receive any remuneration in connection therewith, except for court costs and legal services; provided, however, that the department, licensed agency, or authorized agency may charge a service fee for each adoption in an amount not exceeding the cost of services rendered, to be paid by the adopting parent(s).

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

Who May Adopt Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 13, §§ 903; 951

The following persons may adopt:

  • An unmarried person
  • A husband and wife jointly
  • A divorced or legally separated person

The petitioners must be residents of the State at the time of filing and over age 21.

In the case of an adopted person who is age 18 or older, any person or husband and wife jointly may adopt.

Who May Be Adopted Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 13, §§ 908; 951; 953

The child who is to be adopted must be legally free for adoption.

Persons who are age 18 or older may be adopted, subject to their consent to the adoption and their appearance at the adoption hearing.

Who May Place a Child for Adoption Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 13, § 904

Any child sought to be adopted must be placed for adoption by the Department of Children, Youth, and Their Families or a licensed or authorized agency, and the placement must be supervised by the department or licensed agency. Such placement or supervision shall not be necessary in the case of:

  • Adoption by a stepparent
  • Adoption by a blood relative
  • Adoption by a guardian or permanent guardian as long as guardianship or permanent guardianship has been granted for at least 6 months prior to filing the adoption petition

No placement for an identified adoption in which an intermediary has been involved shall be approved or permitted by the department or a licensed agency.

In any case in which the child to be adopted is from out of State, pursuant to § 926 of this title, the placement must be approved and supervised by the department or a licensed agency.

Post-Adoption Laws

Access to Adoption Records

Who May Access Information Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 13, § 924

Family information may be available to the following persons:

  • The adopted person who is age 21 or older
  • All other parties to an adoption

Access to Nonidentifying Information Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 13, § 924

The department or agency may release nonidentifying information in its records to the parties to the adoption.

Mutual Access to Identifying Information Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 13, §§ 924; 929; 962

Identifying information shall not be released except by order of the court or with the consent of all parties when it is deemed by the agency to be in the adopted person’s best interests. In cases where the adopted person’s health or the health of any blood relative is concerned and the adoption agency has refused to release the health information, the court may, through petition by the adopted person, permit the party to inspect only that part of the adoption agency or court record containing medical information if it is needed for the health of the person or of any blood relative of the person.

As part of the adoption planning process, the department or agency may provide information to the birth parents and to the adoptive parents as follows:

  • In preplacement planning, identifying information shall be limited to the viewing of photographs, provided that such viewing is with the consent of birth parents and adoptive parents and that no additional identifying information is contained in the photographs.
  • After a placement has been completed, and prior to finalization of the adoption, identifying information may include, but is not limited to, the exchange of names, addresses, photographs, and face-to-face meetings, provided that:
    • The birth parents and adoptive parents request the exchange of information in writing.
    • The birth parents, adoptive parents, and the department or agency agree to the exchange of information as specified in writing.
    • The birth parents and adoptive parents acknowledge in writing their understanding that no legal right or assurance of continuing contact after finalization of the adoption exists.

An adopted person who is age 21 or older may request an agency to assist in locating a birth relative. When the relative is located, he or she may make a no-contact declaration. If the declaration is not made, the agency may release the birth parent or sibling’s current name, address, and telephone number to the adopted person.

Access to Original Birth Certificate Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 13, § 923

An adopted person who is age 21 or older may request a copy of the original birth certificate unless the birth parent has filed an affidavit denying release of identifying information.

Where the Information Can Be Located

  • Adoption Registry, Delaware Office of Vital Statistics
  • The agency involved in the adoption

Intestate Inheritance Rights for Adopted Persons

Birth Parents in Relation to Adopted Person Citation: Ann Code Tit. 13, § 920; Tit. 12, § 508

Upon the issuance of an adoption decree, the adopted child shall lose all rights of inheritance from his or her birth parents and their relatives. The rights of the birth parents or relatives to inherit from the child also shall cease. Adoption of the child by the spouse of a birth parent has no effect on the relationship between the child and that birth parent for purposes of intestate succession.

Adoptive Parents in Relation to Adopted Person Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 13 § 920

Upon the issuance of the adoption decree, the adopted child shall acquire the right to inherit from his or her adoptive parent(s) and their relatives, and the adoptive parent(s) and their relatives shall at the same time acquire the right to inherit from the adopted child.

Adopted Persons Who Are Not Included in a Will Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 13, § 920; Tit. 12, § 301

The rights of a child adopted after the making of a will by the adopting parent(s), shall be the same as the rights of an after-born child, as prescribed in Title 12, § 301.

A child born after his or her parent has made a last will and testament and for which such parent made no provision, vested or contingent, specifically or as member of a class, by will or otherwise, shall inherit the same portion of his or her parent’s estate, both real and personal, that the child would have been entitled to if such parent had died intestate unless the testator has provided in the last will and testament that the birth of any child or children subsequently shall not affect the will.

Postadoption Contact Agreements Between Birth and Adoptive Families

What may be included in postadoption contact agreements? Ann. Code Tit. 13, § 929

After the placement selection process has been completed, and prior to the finalization of the adoption, identifying information may be exchanged, including, but not limited to, the exchange of names, addresses, photographs, and face-to-face meetings, provided that:

  • The birth parent or parents and adoptive parent or parents request the exchange of identifying information in writing.
  • The birth parent or parents and adoptive parent or parents and the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families or licensed agency agree to the exchange of identifying information as specified in writing.
  • The birth parent or parents and adoptive parent or parents acknowledge in writing their understanding that no legal right or assurance of continuing contact after finalization of the adoption exists.
  • The birth parent or parents and adoptive parent or parents acknowledge in writing and under oath that there has been no violation of § 928 of this title.

Who may be a party to a postadoption contact agreement? Ann. Code Tit. 13, § 929

Written consent to the exchange of identifying information must be given by the birth parent(s), adoptive parent(s), and any child age 14 or older unless the department or licensed agency deems it to be in the best interests of the child that such consent be waived.

What is the role of the court in postadoption contact agreements?

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Are agreements legally enforceable?

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

How may an agreement be terminated or modified?

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Laws Related to Intercountry Adoption

Effect and Recognition of a Foreign Adoption Decree

Ann. Code Tit. 13, § 927(a)-(b)

An adoption that is finalized by a court with appropriate jurisdiction in a foreign country is valid if it was issued in accord with the laws of that country and if the child was not brought into the United States until after the adoption was finalized abroad.

A proceeding or decree issued in a foreign country is not valid if the child was brought into the United States before the adoption was finalized abroad unless the adoption proceedings were in substantial compliance with the adoption laws of Delaware. This subsection does not apply to adoption proceedings or orders initiated in a foreign country as to persons who are not Delaware residents when the adoption proceedings commenced.

Readoption After an Intercountry Adoption

Ann. Code Tit. 13, § 927(c)

Adoptive parents seeking an order certifying the validity of their foreign adoption decree shall file the decree with the family court in the county in which they reside. An affidavit shall be filed with the decree indicating that the decree was issued in accordance with the laws of the issuing jurisdiction and that the adopted child was not brought into Delaware until the adoption was finalized. The name by which the child is to be known shall be included in the affidavit.

The court shall review the affidavit, decree, and other documents, and if the adoption meets the requirements of this section, the court shall issue an order certifying the validity of the adoption that will include the child’s American name.

Application for a U.S. Birth Certificate

Upon the issuance of a final decree of adoption or of an order certifying the validity of a foreign adoption, the clerk of the court in which the decree of adoption was made, or filed in the case of a foreign adoption under title 13, § 927, shall immediately file in the office of the State Registrar a report setting forth the information required by title 13, § 921, together with a certified copy of the final decree of adoption.

Upon receipt of the information, the State Registrar shall file a new certificate setting forth the adopted name and sex of the child, together with the names of the adopting parents and the actual birth date and birthplace of the child. Certificates may be issued in accordance with § 3110 of this title.

In the event of a child born outside of the United States who is adopted in Delaware and for whom no certificate of birth can be secured from the nation of birth, the State Registrar may file and issue a special certificate of birth in accordance with this chapter, provided the adopting parents can furnish evidence considered satisfactory by the State Registrar of the facts and circumstances surrounding the birth of the child.

Source

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

References

  1. Ala. Code §§ 38-13-3(2) & (5); 38-13-2(30)