- 1 Adoption Laws
- 1.1 Consent to Adoption
- 1.2 Criminal Background Checks for Prospective Foster and Adoptive Parents
- 1.3 Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights
- 1.4 Home Study Requirements for Prospective Parents in Domestic Adoption
- 1.5 Infant Safe Haven Laws
- 1.6 Regulation of Private Domestic Adoption Expenses
- 1.7 The Rights of Unmarried Fathers
- 1.8 Use of Advertising and Facilitators in Adoptive Placements
- 1.9 Who May Adopt, Be Adopted, or Place a Child for Adoption?
- 2 Post-Adoption Laws
- 3 Laws Related to Intercountry Adoption
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the content of this website is frequently updated, information changes rapidly and therefore, some information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies, omissions or typographical errors.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 Citation: Rev. Stat. § 170-B:5
- The birth mother, provided that if she is under age 18, the court may require the assent of her parents or legal guardian
- The legal father, provided that if he is under age 18, the court may require the assent of his parents or legal guardian
- The birth father, provided that he was found to be entitled to notice and that if he is under age 18, the court may require the assent of his parents or legal guardian
- The legal guardian of the child if both birth parents are deceased or have surrendered their rights
- The department or any licensed child-placing agency that may been given the care, custody, and control of the child
Consent of Child Being Adopted Citation: Rev. Stat. § 170-B:3
If the child is age 14 or older, he or she must assent to the adoption unless the court determines that it is not in the best interests of the child to require assent. Such an assent shall be executed by the child in writing and signed in the presence of the court in which the petition for adoption has been filed.
When Parental Consent Is Not Needed Citation: Rev. Stat. § 170-B:7
- The alleged father who has not met the requirements of § 170-B:5(I) or § 170-B:6
- A parent whose parental rights have been voluntarily or involuntarily terminated by a court in another State
- An alleged father who is found not to be the father
- Any parent of the adopted person if the adopted person is an adult
- A parent whose parental rights have been terminated
- An alleged father who is convicted of an offense under §§ 632-A:2, 632-A:3, 632-A:4, or 639:2 that resulted in the conception of the child
- Parents whose parental rights have been determined to be voluntarily or involuntarily terminated by the proper authorities in another country, such determination to be evidenced by documentation issued by the U.S. Department of Justice or the U.S. Department of State and deemed acceptable by probate court rule
When Consent Can Be Executed Citation: Rev. Stat. § 170-B:8
No surrender shall be taken until a passage of a minimum of 72 hours after the birth of the child.
How Consent Must Be Executed Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 170-B:9; 170-B:10
A surrender by a parent shall be executed in writing and signed by the parent in the presence of the court of the county in which the parent resides. If the parent is under age 18, the court may require the assent of the minor’s parents or legal guardian. If the parent is a nonresident, the surrender may be taken in the State in which the parent resides.
A surrender executed by the department or an agency shall be in writing and signed by the executive head or other authorized representative in the presence of a person authorized to take acknowledgments.
A surrender shall state that the person executing the surrender document acknowledges that the person’s parental rights over the child will cease upon the court’s approval of the surrender. A surrender shall further state:
- An acknowledgment that after the surrender is executed, it is final and, except as noted below, may not be revoked for any reason, including the failure of an adoptive parent to comply with an arrangement with the birth parent for postsurrender contact
- An acknowledgment that the surrender will extinguish all parental obligations except the obligation to pay any accrued unpaid child support
- That the parent has been informed of counseling services and been provided legal counsel
- That the parent has not received or been promised any money or anything of value for the surrender except for permissible payments
- Whether the parent has been informed of the identity of the adoptive parents
- Whether the child is an Indian child
- Whether the parent wishes to be notified that a final decree of adoption has been entered
- That the parent has read and understands the content of the document and wishes the surrender to take effect
Revocation of Consent Citation: Rev. Stat. § 170-B:12
A parent wishing to withdraw a surrender shall notify in writing the court where the surrender was taken. Notification shall be prior to the entry of the final decree. A surrender may not be withdrawn unless the court finds that:
- The parent seeking to withdraw his or her surrender has proven by a preponderance of evidence that the surrender was obtained by fraud or duress.
- The withdrawal of the surrender is in the best interests of the child. In making this determination, the court may consider every facet of each parent’s life.
The court shall notify any other party that has surrendered rights to the child of the issuance of its order granting the withdrawal of such surrender. The party shall have 30 days from the date of the register’s notice of decision to request in writing to the court that his or her surrender be withdrawn as well. The 30-day time period to file such a request shall not be extended by the court absent a showing of good cause.
Criminal Background Checks for Prospective Foster and Adoptive Parents
Requirements for Foster Parents Rev. Stat. Ann. § 170-E:29; Admin. Rules §§ He-C 6446.07; He-C 6446.27
For an initial application for a foster family home license, the department shall conduct a background check of the prospective foster parents and all household members age 17 or older. The background check shall consist of a fingerprint-based criminal record check of national crime information databases for the prospective foster parents and a central registry check for the prospective foster parents and all household members age 17 or older.
The central registry check shall include a check of the department’s central registry of founded reports of child abuse and neglect and a check of the child abuse and neglect registries in any other State in which the prospective foster parents or other adult living in the home has resided in the preceding 5 years.
In regulation:The department may deny an application for or revoke a foster family care license if the applicants are the subject of a founded report of child abuse or neglect in New Hampshire or any other State.
The department shall deny an application for a foster family care license if the applicant:
- Has been convicted of a felony for child abuse or neglect, spousal abuse, any crime against children, child pornography, rape, sexual assault, or homicide, but not including other physical assault or battery
- Has been convicted of a felony for physical assault, battery, or a drug-related offense within the past 5 years
- Has been convicted of a violent or sexually related crime against a child or of a crime that shows the person might be reasonably expected to pose a threat to a child, such as a violent crime or a sexually related crime against an adult
- Has a motor vehicle record or is the subject of a report from another source that, following assessment, shows that the applicant might reasonably be expected to pose a threat of harm to a child
Requirements for Adoptive Parents Rev. Stat. Ann. § 170-B:18(VI-VII); Admin. Rules § He-C 6448.13
A background check is required for all private adoptions. The background check shall include both a criminal records check conducted by the New Hampshire State police and a search of the abuse and neglect registry maintained by the department. If the petitioner has lived in another State, the court also may request a search of that State’s abuse and neglect registry.
The court shall require a background check in all adoption proceedings initiated by the department or by another child-placing agency. The background check shall consist of a fingerprint-based criminal record check of national crime information databases for all prospective adoptive parents and a central registry check for all prospective adoptive parents and any other adult living in the home.
The central registry check shall include a check of the central registry of founded reports of child abuse and neglect and a check of the child abuse and neglect registries in any other State in which the prospective adoptive parent or other adult living in the home has resided in the preceding 5 years.
In regulation:The minimum requirements for acceptance of the adoptive parent applicants shall include:
- The adoptive parent applicant shall not have been convicted of child abuse or neglect or any other serious crime that would affect the ability to care for children.
- The adoptive parent applicants and all household members shall be screened by the Department of Health and Human Services for any founded reports of child abuse or neglect.
- If a founded report is on file for any member of the adoptive parent applicant's household, department staff in cooperation with staff from the child-placing agency shall conduct a complete review of the circumstances surrounding the report.
- After review, if the department determines that the household member poses no further threat to any child, the child-placing agency shall proceed with the application process.
Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights
Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights Rev. Stat. §§ 169-C:24-a; 170-C:5
A petition for termination of parental rights shall be filed when any one or more of the following circumstances exist:
- The child has been in an out-of-home placement for 12 of the most recent 22 months.
- The child has been abandoned.
- The parent has been convicted of:
- Murder of another child of the parent, a sibling or stepsibling of the child, the child’s other parent, or other persons related by consanguinity or affinity, including a minor child who resided with the defendant
- Manslaughter of another child of the parent
- Attempt, solicitation, or conspiracy to commit any of the offenses listed above
- Felony assault that resulted in injury to the child, a sibling or stepsibling of the child, the child’s other parent, or other persons related by consanguinity or affinity, including a minor child who resided with the defendant
- The parent, although financially able, has substantially and continuously neglected to provide the child with necessary subsistence, education, or other necessary care.
- The parent has failed to correct the conditions leading to the child’s out-of-home placement within 12 months, despite reasonable efforts under the direction of the district court to rectify the conditions.
- Because of mental deficiency or mental illness, the parent is and will continue to be incapable of giving the child proper parental care and protection for a longer period of time than would be wise or prudent.
- The parent knowingly or willfully caused or permitted another to cause severe sexual, physical, emotional, or mental abuse of the child.
- The parent’s conduct toward the child has resulted in severe harm to the child.
- The parent’s conduct toward the child has continued despite the reasonable efforts of authorized agencies in obtaining or providing services for the parent to reduce or alleviate such conduct.
- The parent, as a result of incarceration for a felony offense, is unable to discharge his or her responsibilities for the child and, in addition, has been shown to have abused or neglected the child. The court may review the conviction of the parent to determine whether the felony offense is of such a nature, and the period of incarceration imposed of such duration, that the child would be deprived of proper parental care and protection and left in an unstable or impermanent environment for a longer period of time than would be prudent.
Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parental Rights Rev. Stat. § 169-C:24-a
The State may not be required to file a petition for termination of parental rights if one or more of the following conditions exist:
- The child is being appropriately cared for by a relative.
- A State agency has documented in the case file a compelling reason for determining that filing a petition for termination of parental rights would not be in the best interests of the child.
- The State has not provided to the family of the child such services and reasonable efforts as the State deems necessary for the safe return of the child to the child’s home.
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: Admin. Code, HE-C 6448.13
The adoptive parent applicants and all household members shall be included in the family assessment.
Agency or Person Conducting the Study Citation: Admin. Code, HE-C 6448.13
The child-placing agency shall conduct the assessment.
Qualifications for Adoptive Parents Citation: Admin. Code, HE-C 6448.13; 6448.14
The minimum requirements for acceptance of the adoptive parent applicants shall be as follows:
- Each adoptive parent applicant shall be at least age 18.
- Each prospective adoptive parent shall confirm their commitment to adopt.
- The adoptive parent applicant shall not have been convicted of child abuse or neglect or any other serious crime that would affect the ability to care for children.
- Adoptive parent applicants, whether married or single, shall have established a stable and consistent home life in that the applicant is self-sufficient and has adequate support systems such as extended family and friends in the community who are able to assist the family.
- The applicants shall demonstrate good physical and emotional health, with a reasonable expectation that the good health will continue throughout the minority of the child.
- Sufficient physical space and accommodations in the home shall exist for the adoptive child.
- The applicants shall have sufficient income to support the family and the child they wish to adopt.
The adoptive parent applicant must complete at least 8 hours of preadoptive training during the family assessment process, prior to finalization of the adoption. The training shall cover:
- The adoption process
- Understanding a child’s behavior
- Grief and loss
- Developmental stages
- The family unit from which the child entered the adoptive process
- The impact of adoption on the family and community
- Race and culture
Elements of a Home Study Citation: Rev. Stat. § 170-B:18; Admin. Code HE-C 6448.13
The court shall require a background check in all adoption proceedings. The background check shall consist of a fingerprint-based criminal record check of national crime information databases for all prospective adoptive parents and a central registry check for all prospective adoptive parents and any other adult living in the home.
In regulation: During the application process, the agency shall obtain:
- A signed application
- A signed medical statement from a licensed physician on each applicant based on an examination given within 1 year of the application
- A financial statement that includes monthly income, monthly expenses, and assets
- Information on the applicants’ religious preferences, if any
- A minimum of five personal references provided by persons who have known the applicants for at least 2 years, one of whom is a relative and the remaining four unrelated to the applicant
The family assessment shall:
- Include at least one visit made to the home
- Consist of individual and joint meetings, when applicable, with the couple
- Involve all adults and children of sufficient understanding in the household
- Include consideration of the following factors to assess the adoptive parent applicant’s compatibility with a child and any problems the adoptive parent applicants might encounter following the adoption:
- The applicants’ motivation to adopt
- If applicable, how the applicants have dealt with issues of their infertility
- The applicants’ expectations of the child and preferred child characteristics
- The applicants’ feelings about adoption and how adoption will be explained to the child
Grounds for Withholding Approval Citation: Admin. Code, HE-C 6448.13
If a founded child abuse or neglect report is on file for any member of the adoptive parent applicant’s household, staff of the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) in cooperation with staff from the child-placing agency shall conduct a complete review of the circumstances surrounding the report. After review, if DCYF determines that the household member poses no further threat to any child, the child-placing agency shall proceed with the application process.
When Studies Must Be Completed Citation: Admin. Rules, HE-C 6448.15; HE-C 6448.13
A child shall not be placed in an adoptive home until the home has been approved by a licensed child-placing agency or the department.
Approved adoptive families who have waited a year for a placement shall have an annual home visit and family assessment update that includes:
- Any changes to the original family assessment
- Updated criminal checks for all household members
- Updated child protective services checks for child abuse or neglect
Postplacement Study Requirements Citation: Admin. Rules, HE-C 6448.15
Following placement of the child, the caseworker shall:
- Contact the adoptive family, by phone or in person, within 3 weeks of placement
- Meet in person with the adoptive family and the child(ren) at least once every 2 months until the adoption is finalized
- Conduct at least two of the meetings in the home of the adoptive family
Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions Citation: Rev. Stat. § 170-B:18; Admin. Rules, HE-C 6448.14
In regulation: Preadoptive training shall be optional when the adoptive parent applicant is a relative of the child who has lived with the child for at least 6 months.
Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements Citation: Rev. Stat. § 170-A:1
Any out-of-home placement of a child outside the State is subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.
The child shall not be sent into the receiving State until the appropriate public authorities in the receiving State notify the sending agency, in writing, that the proposed placement does not appear to be contrary to the interests of the child.
Foster to Adopt Placements
This issue is not addressed in the statutes and regulations reviewed.
Infant Safe Haven Laws
Infant’s Age Citation: Rev. Stat. § 132-A:2
A child who is no more than 7 days old may be surrendered.
Who May Relinquish the Infant Citation: Rev. Stat. § 132-A:2
The child may be relinquished by his or her parent.
Who May Receive the Infant Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 132-A:1; 132-A:2
The child may be left at a hospital or a safe haven. A safe haven may be:
- A church that is attended by a person
- A police or fire station that is attended by a person
- A 911 responder at an agreed transfer location
Responsibilities of the Safe Haven Provider Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 132-A:2; 132-A:3
A hospital or safe haven that takes temporary care and control of a child shall ensure the provision of any medical services necessary to protect the physical health or safety of the child.
Within 24 hours, the hospital or safe haven shall notify the Department of Health and Humanh Services and law enforcement officials that the hospital or safe haven has assumed temporary care and control of the child.
Immunity for the Provider Citation: Rev. Stat. § 132-A:4
No person or entity subject to the provisions of this chapter shall be liable for any claim at law or in equity as a result of action taken pursuant to the requirements of this chapter.
Protection for Relinquishing Parent Citation: Rev. Stat. § 132-A:2
The parent is not required to reveal personally identifiable information.
Effect on Parental Rights Citation: Rev. Stat. § 132-A:3
The department assumes temporary care and control of the infant.
Within 24 hours, the department shall request law enforcement officials to investigate the incident using all resources available, including the National Crime Information Center database, to determine if the child is a missing child.
Regulation of Private Domestic Adoption Expenses
Birth Parent Expenses Allowed Citation: Rev. Stat. § 170-B:13(I)
In any adoption of an unrelated minor child, an intended adoptive parent or anyone acting on his or her behalf shall pay only the following expenses of the birth parent:
- Reasonable counseling, medical, and legal fees that shall be paid directly to the provider of the services
- Reasonable expenses for transportation, lodging, clothing, and meals incurred for the placement of the minor
- Reasonable living expenses of the birth mother to maintain an adequate standard of living when the mother is unable to due to loss of wages caused by the pregnancy or delivery
- Reasonable expenses for adoption services provided by an agency at the request of the birth parent that shall be paid directly to the agency
Birth Parent Expenses Not Allowed Citation: Rev. Stat. § 170-B:13(I)(d)
Payments for living expenses may cover expenses incurred during the pregnancy-related incapacity but not for a period longer than 6 weeks following delivery. Reasonable living expenses shall not include gifts in excess of $50, educational expenses, or other payments for the monetary gain of the birth parent.
Allowable Payments for Arranging Adoption
This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.
Allowable Payments for Relinquishing Child Citation: Rev. Stat. § 170-B:13(II)
A contract cannot be made to require reimbursement of payments when the birth parent refuses to or withdraws consent to adoption.
Allowable Fees Charged by Department/Agency Citation: Rev. Stat. § 170-B:13(I)
An agency may charge reasonable fees for any services provided.
Accounting of Expenses Required by Court Citation: Rev. Stat. § 170-B:19(V)
Before a final decree of adoption is issued in the adoption of a minor child not related to the petitioner or one of the petitioners, the petitioners shall file with the court on forms supplied by the department an affidavit listing the amount of fees or other charges, whether in the form of cash, gifts, or other thing of value, paid to or on behalf of birth parents, physicians, attorneys, or any other person in connection with the adoption, including, but not limited to, fees for medical, legal, or assessment services conducted pursuant to § 170-B:18, or board and care for the birth mother or minor child.
The Rights of Unmarried Fathers
Legal Definition of Father Rev. Stat. § 170-B:2
The term ‘birth father’ means a person or persons other than a legal father who has been named, pursuant to § 170-B:6, as the father of the child, or who is the subject of a pending paternity action, or who has filed an unrevoked notice of intent to claim paternity of the child pursuant to § 170-B:6.
The term ‘legal father’ means:
- The person designated as the father pursuant to § 5-C:24 on that child’s birth certificate
- The person designated as the father pursuant to a court order resulting from a paternity action
- The person designated as the father upon legitimation pursuant to § 457:42
- The person who was determined by the court to be married to the birth mother at the time of conception, birth, or any time between conception and birth
Paternity Registry Rev. Stat. § 170-B:6
A person who claims to be the father and who has registered his claim of paternity with the Office of Child Support Services in what shall be known as the New Hampshire Putative Father Registry or in the putative father registry of the State where the child was born shall be given notice by the court of an adoption and shall have the right to request a hearing to prove paternity.
The registration form filed with the appropriate putative father registry may be filed prior to the birth of the child but shall be filed prior to the birth mother’s parental rights being surrendered or involuntarily terminated. Failure to register with the appropriate putative father registry prior to this time shall bar the alleged father from thereafter bringing an action to establish his paternity of the child and shall constitute an abandonment of said child and a waiver of any right to a notice of hearing in any adoption proceeding concerning the child.
Any person entitled to notice from the court shall have 30 days from the date of the court’s notice to request a hearing at which he shall have the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that he is the legal or birth father of the child. The failure to request such hearing within 30 days from the date of the court’s notice shall result in a forfeiture of all parental rights and any right to notice by the court of any adoption proceedings concerning the child.
Alternate Means to Establish Paternity Rev. Stat. §§ 168-A:2; 5-C:24
Paternity shall be established upon the filing of:
- A petition to the superior court by the mother, putative father, child, or public authority chargeable by law with the support of the child and the granting of such petition by the court
- An affidavit of paternity with the clerk of the town where the birth of the child occurred. The affidavit of paternity shall have the legal effect of establishing paternity without requiring further action pursuant to this chapter, unless rescinded pursuant to § 5-C:28.
In the case of a child born in the State of New Hampshire whose paternity has not been established by means of an affidavit of paternity, the mother or the natural father may initiate a request for an acknowledgment of paternity.
When an unwed mother applies to the clerk of a town or city wishing to add the name of a father to her child’s birth record the following shall apply:
- The affidavit of paternity shall be executed prior to the child’s 18th birthday.
- The natural father to be named shall personally sign the affidavit.
- If signed separately, each signature shall be separately notarized.
Required Information Rev. Stat. § 5-C:25
- Information about the child, including:
- The child’s first, middle, and last names
- The child’s city or town and State of birth
- The child’s date of birth
- The child’s name as it appears on the birth record
- The child’s Social Security number, if known
- Whether the child is living
- The child’s date and place of death, if applicable
- Information about, and signature of, the child’s natural father, including:
- His full name and date of birth
- His State of birth, Social Security number, and address
- His signature and date signed, unless the natural father is a minor, in which case his parent or guardian’s signature
- Information about, and signature of, the child’s mother, including:
- Her maiden name
- Her Social Security number
- Her address
- If the mother is a minor, her parent or guardian’s signature
- The date signed
- When the mother’s husband agrees that he is not the child’s natural father, the following information, and signature of, the mother’s husband, including:
- The husband’s name
- His Social Security number
- His address
- His signature and date signed, unless the husband is a minor, in which case his parent or guardian’s signature shall be obtained
- The notarized signatures of the child’s natural father, mother, and, if he is not the child’s father, her husband, including the date signed and the date the notary’s commission expires
- Certification of the hospital or birthing center, including the name and signature of the preparer and date signed, and the name and the address of the hospital or birthing facility
A parent or legal guardian may request to rescind an affidavit of paternity from the clerk of the city or town where the birth occurred within 60 days of the filing of an affidavit of paternity unless an administrative or judicial proceeding related to the child results in an earlier date.
Once the completed rescission of paternity form is filed, the clerk of the town or city shall remove the name of the father from the birth record and insert ‘not stated’ in the space provided for the father’s name or, if the original birth record was filed prior to the completion of an affidavit of paternity, change the child’s name on the birth record back to the name stated on the original record before the affidavit of paternity was filed.
Access to Information Rev. Stat. § 5-C:28
The clerk of the city or town where the birth occurred shall distribute the rescission of paternity to:
- The birth mother
- The father named on the affidavit of paternity
- The parent or legal guardian of the minor signatory as stated on the affidavit of paternity
- The division
- The Department of Health and Human Services
- The husband, if a three-party affidavit of paternity was completed
- The hospital that was the originator of the affidavit of paternity, if applicable
Use of Advertising and Facilitators in Adoptive Placements
Use of Advertisement Citation: Rev. Stat. § 170-E:39
A child-placing agency licensed or operating under a permit issued by the department may publish advertisements of the services for which it is specifically licensed or issued a permit under this subdivision.
No person who is required to obtain a license or permit under this subdivision may advertise or cause to be published an advertisement soliciting or offering a child for placement unless the person has obtained the requisite license or permit.
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 Citation: Rev. Stat. § 170-B:4
Any of the following adults may adopt:
- A husband and wife together
- A married person without his or her spouse joining as a petitioner if any one of the following circumstances apply:
- The petitioner is the stepparent.
- The petitioner and his or her spouse are legally separated.
- The failure of the petitioner’s spouse to join in the petition is excused by the court by reason of prolonged unexplained absence, unavailability, or circumstances constituting an unreasonable withholding of assent.
- The petitioner’s spouse assents to the adoption, and the adopted person is over age 18.
- An unmarried adult
- The unmarried parent of the adopted person
Who May Be Adopted Citation: Rev. Stat. § 170-B:3
Any individual may be adopted.
Who May Place a Child for Adoption Citation: Rev. Stat. § 170-B:5
- The parents
- The child’s legal guardian
- The Department of Health and Human Services
- A licensed child-placing agency
Access to Adoption Records
Who May Access Information Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 170:B-23; 170:B-24
Nonidentifying information is available to:
Identifying information is available to:
- The adopted person
- The birth parents
- Blood relatives
Access to Nonidentifying Information Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 170:B-23; 170:B-24
The department or the licensed child-placing agency may share with the adoptive parents all information it has available about the minor child being placed for adoption. The department or the licensed child-placing agency shall delete any information that would tend to identify a birth parent.
When any person listed above submits a request for nonidentifying social or medical information, the department or agency shall disclose such information relating to the adopted person, the birth parents, or the blood relatives. The department or the agency shall delete any information from the health history or background that would tend to be identifying. Court approval is not required for information disclosed under this paragraph.
Mutual Access to Identifying Information Citation: Rev. Stat. § 170:B-24
If the parties mutually agree to the release of identifying information, it shall be released as provided in this paragraph. Only the following people may authorize the disclosure of identifying information about an adopted person, a birth parent, or a blood relative:
- An adopted person who is age 18 or older
- The adoptive parents of an adopted person under age 18
- A birth parent at the time of surrender or later
Any release may be revoked or amended at any time. The person signing the release or its revocation shall file a copy with the department or licensed child-placing agency. The department or licensed child-placing agency shall then file a copy of the release with the court that heard the adoption petition. Court approval is not required for release of identifying information when a release has been signed, and the person affirms his or her desire to be contacted.
Court approval shall be required if the parties do not agree, if they cannot be contacted, or if the department or agency questions the safety of releasing information.
Access to Original Birth Certificate Citation: Rev. Stat. § 170:B-23
The original birth certificate is subject to inspection only upon written order of the court for good cause shown.
Where the Information Can Be Located
New Hampshire Department of State, Division of Vital Records
Intestate Inheritance Rights for Adopted Persons
Birth Parents in Relation to Adopted Person Citation: Rev. Stat. § 170-B:25
Upon the issuance of a final decree of adoption, all reciprocal rights of inheritance between the adopted person and the adopted person’s birth parents and their respective collateral or lineal relatives shall contemporaneously cease.
When the adoptive parent is a stepparent, married to a birth parent, the child’s relationship to such child’s birth parent shall in no way be altered by reason of the adoption.
Upon the issuance of a final decree of adoption, all reciprocal rights of inheritance between the adopted person and the adoptive parent(s) and their respective collateral or lineal relatives shall contemporaneously begin.
Adopted Persons Who Are Not Included in a Will Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 170-B:25; 551:10
Every child born after the death of the testator, and every child or issue of a child of the deceased parent not named or referred to in his or her will, and who is not a devisee or legatee, shall be entitled to the same portion of the estate, real and personal, as he or she would be if the deceased parent were intestate.
Postadoption Contact Agreements Between Birth and Adoptive Families
What may be included in postadoption contact agreements? Rev. Stat. § 170-B:14
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed as encouraging, discouraging, or prohibiting arrangements or understandings reached between prospective adoptive parents, birth parents, or the child-placing agency with respect to the postsurrender exchange of identifying or nonidentifying information, communication, or contact.
In adoptions involving a child who is under either the legal custody of the department, a voluntarily mediated agreement shall be enforceable as provided in this paragraph. The purpose of this paragraph is to facilitate the timely achievement of permanency for children who are in the custody of the department by providing an option for the parties to enter into a voluntarily mediated agreement for ongoing communication or contact that is in the best interests of the child, that recognizes the parties’ interests and desires for ongoing communication or contact, that is appropriate given the role of the parties in the child’s life, and that is legally enforceable by the courts.
An affidavit made under oath shall accompany the agreement affirmatively stating that the agreement was entered into knowingly and voluntarily and is not the product of coercion, fraud, or duress.
To be approved by the court, the agreement shall contain the following statements:
- The agreement is entered into pursuant to the provisions of § 170-B:14.
- Any breach, modification, or invalidation of the agreement, or any part of it, shall not affect the validity of the surrender of parental rights or the decree of adoption.
- The parties acknowledge that either the birth or prospective adoptive parents who have entered into the agreement have the right to seek enforcement.
- The parties have not relied on any representations other than those contained in the agreement.
The agreement shall be signed by the parties and acknowledged before a notary public as the free act and deed of the parties.
Who may be a party to a postadoption contact agreement? Rev. Stat. § 170-B:14
Prior to the entry of any adoption decree, the department, prospective adoptive parents, and birth parents may voluntarily participate in a court-approved mediation program in order to reach a voluntarily mediated agreement.
If the department is the only party unwilling to participate in mediation, the department shall provide a written explanation of its position to the court, the birth parents, and the prospective adoptive parents.
Other people may be invited to participate in the mediation by mutual consent of the department, birth parents, and prospective adoptive parents. However, these invitees shall not be parties to any agreement reached during that mediation.
If the child who is the subject of the agreement is age 14 or older, the agreement also shall contain the written assent of the child.
What is the role of the court in postadoption contact agreements? Rev. Stat. § 170-B:14
The court shall approve the voluntarily mediated agreement if the court determines that:
- The agreement is in the best interests of the child. In making this determination, the court may consider:
- The length of time that the child has been under the actual care, custody, and control of any person other than a birth parent
- The desires of the child's birth parents and the child as to the child's custody or residency
- The interaction and interrelationship of the child with birth parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interests
- The adjustment to the child's home, school, and community
- The willingness and ability of the birth parents to respect and appreciate the bond between the child and the adoptive parents
- The willingness and ability of the adoptive parents to respect and appreciate the bond between the child and the birth parents
- Any evidence of abuse or neglect of the child
- The recommendations of any guardian ad litem
- An affidavit made under oath shall accompany the agreement stating that the agreement was entered into knowingly and voluntarily and is not the product of coercion, fraud, or duress.
The court issuing final approval of the agreement shall have continuing jurisdiction over enforcement of the agreement until the child reaches his or her 18th birthday.
Are agreements legally enforceable? Rev. Stat. § 170-B:14
Except in cases involving the department, no such arrangement or understanding shall be binding or enforceable. In adoptions involving a child who is under either the legal custody or guardianship of the department, a voluntarily mediated agreement shall be enforceable as provided in this paragraph.
To be enforceable, a voluntarily mediated agreement shall be in writing, approved by the court prior to the date for entry of any adoption decree, incorporated but not merged into any adoption decree, and shall survive as an independent agreement.
A voluntarily mediated agreement need not disclose the identity of the parties to be enforceable, but if an identity is not disclosed, the unidentified person shall designate a resident agent for the purpose of service of process.
A voluntarily mediated agreement shall cease to be enforceable on the date the child turns age 18.
How may an agreement be terminated or modified? Rev. Stat. § 170-B:14
A party to a court-approved voluntarily mediated agreement may seek to modify, enforce, or discontinue the agreement by commencing an equity action in the court that approved the agreement. However, before a court may enter an order requiring modification of, compliance with, or discontinuance of the agreement, the moving party shall certify that he or she has participated, or attempted to participate, in good faith in mediating the dispute giving rise to the action prior to filing the action. A court order for modification, enforcement, or discontinuance of the terms of the voluntarily mediated agreement shall be the sole remedies for breach of the agreement.
The court may modify the terms of the voluntarily mediated agreement if the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that there has been a material and substantial change in the circumstances and that the modification is in the best interests of the child.
A court-imposed modification of a previously approved agreement may limit, restrict, condition, decrease, or discontinue the sharing of information and/or contact between the birth parents and the child, but in no event shall a court-imposed modification serve to expand, enlarge, or increase the amount of contact between the birth parents and the child or place new obligations on the parties to the agreement. The court also may impose appropriate sanctions consistent with its equitable powers but not inconsistent with this section, including the power to issue restraining orders.
Nothing in this section shall be construed so as to abrogate the rights of the adoptive parents to make decisions on behalf of the child, except as provided in the court-approved voluntarily mediated agreement.
Laws Related to Intercountry Adoption
Effect and Recognition of a Foreign Adoption Decree
Rev. Stat. § 170-B:29
A decree of court establishing the relationship of parent and child by adoption issued pursuant to due process of law by a court of any other jurisdiction within or without the United States shall be recognized in this State, and the rights and obligations of the parties as to matters within the jurisdiction of this State shall be determined as though the decree was issued by a court of this State.
Readoption After an Intercountry Adoption
Rev. Stat. § 170-B:27(II)
The court may validate and issue an adoption decree for an adoption finalized in another jurisdiction, provided that evidence satisfactory to the court is produced to demonstrate the validity of such adoption. For the purposes of this paragraph, satisfactory evidence includes documentation from the U.S. Department of Justice or the U.S. Department of State that a legal adoption has been completed in another country. Probate court rules shall specify such acceptable documentation.
Application for a U.S. Birth Certificate
The registrar shall establish a New Hampshire certificate of foreign birth for a person born in a foreign country and for whom a final decree of adoption has been issued by a court of competent jurisdiction in New Hampshire. This certificate of foreign birth shall be established and registered and a certified copy of such certificate issued when the registrar receives a request from the adoptive parents or adoptee if he or she is age 18 or older.
A completed application shall include:
- The county of the probate court
- The name of the child prior to adoption
- The names of the adoptive parents
- The date the adoption was approved by the probate court
- The full name of the child after adoption
- The child's sex and date of birth
- The city or town, the state or local equivalent, and the country of the child's place of birth
- Information from both adoptive parents, or one parent in the case where only one parent is adopting, including each parent's full name, the full maiden name of the adoptive mother, if applicable, each parent's date and place of birth, each parent's residence address, each parent's signature, and the date signed
- The signature of a justice of the peace or the signature and seal of a notary public
The applicant shall attach the following documents to the completed application:
- A report of adoption, as required by § 170-B:22
- A certified copy of the original adoption decree
- The child's alien registration card
- The documents used to establish the date and place of birth, such as an English translation of the original birth certificate, a copy of an adoption report from the adoption agency, or any report issued by the government of the country of birth describing facts known regarding the origin of the child
Child Welfare Information Gateway. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families.