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Wyoming

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the content of this website is frequently updated, information changes rapidly and therefore, some information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies, omissions or typographical errors.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 Citation: Ann. Stat. § 1-22-109

The consent to adoption shall be signed by:

  • Both parents, if living
  • The surviving parent
  • The mother and putative father of the child if the name of the putative father is known
  • The mother alone if she does not know the name of the putative father, in which case she shall sign and file an affidavit so stating, and the court shall determine whether the putative father has registered and if so, shall require notice to be given to the putative father
  • The legal guardian of the person of the child if neither parent is living or if parental rights have been judicially terminated
  • The executive head of the agency to whom the child has been relinquished for adoption
  • The person having exclusive legal custody of the child by court order
  • The legally appointed guardian of any parent or putative father who has been adjudged mentally incompetent

Consent of Child Being Adopted Citation: Ann. Stat. § 1-22-109

If the child to be adopted is age 14 or older, his or her written consent to adoption shall also be filed with the petition to adopt.

When Parental Consent Is Not Needed Citation: Ann. Stat. § 1-22-110

The adoption of a child may be ordered without the written consent of a parent or the putative father if the court finds that the nonconsenting parent or putative father is unknown and that the putative father has not registered, and the affidavit required by § 1-22-109(a)(iv) has been filed with the petition to adopt or if the court finds that the putative father or the nonconsenting parent or parents have:

  • Been given notice of the hearing and have failed to answer or appear at the hearing
  • Been judicially deprived of parental rights of the child for any reason
  • Willfully abandoned or deserted the child
  • Willfully failed to contribute to the support of the child for a period of 1 year immediately prior to the filing of the petition to adopt and has failed to bring the support obligation current within 60 days after service of the petition to adopt
  • Willfully permitted the child to be maintained in or by a public or private institution or by the Department of Family Services for a period of 1 year immediately prior to the filing of the petition without substantially contributing to the support of the child
  • Failed, within 30 days after receiving notice of the pending birth or birth of the child, to advise or notify the agency that gave the putative father the notice of his interest in or responsibility for the child or his declaration of paternity
  • Been adjudged by a court to be guilty of cruelty, abuse, neglect, or mistreatment of the child
  • Caused the conception of the child born out of wedlock as a result of sexual assault or incest for which he has been convicted
  • Willfully failed to pay a total dollar amount of at least 70 percent of the court-ordered support for a period of 2 years or more and has failed to bring the support obligation 100 percent current within 60 days after service of the petition to adopt

When Consent Can Be Executed Citation: Ann. Stat. § 1-22-109

The consent to adoption shall be signed any time after the birth of the child.

How Consent Must Be Executed Citation: Ann. Stat. § 1-22-109

A written relinquishment of custody of the child to be adopted and written consent to adoption shall be filed with the petition to adopt. The consent shall be acknowledged or may be approved in the following manner:

  • The consent shall be acknowledged by a:
    • Person authorized to take acknowledgments
    • Representative of the department of family services
    • Representative of a certified agency to whom the custody of the child is being relinquished for adoption
  • If not acknowledged as provided above, the consent to adoption may be approved by the court after:
    • The person giving the consent has appeared before the court in an informal hearing in court chambers.
    • The court finds that the consent is knowingly and voluntarily given.

The consent to adoption and the relinquishment of custody of a child for adoption may be contained in a single instrument.

Revocation of Consent Citation: Ann. Stat. § 1-22-109(d)

Consent to adoption and the relinquishment of a child for adoption are irrevocable unless obtained by fraud or duress except that if the court should deny the adoption on account of a claim or objection of the putative father of the child, the court may also allow the mother of the child to withdraw her consent and relinquishment. The consent or relinquishment by a parent who is a minor is valid and may not be revoked solely because of minority.

Criminal Background Checks for Prospective Foster and Adoptive Parents

Requirements for Foster Parents Code of Wyo. Rules § 049-080-003

This issue is not addressed in statute. The following information is from the Code of Wyoming Rules.

Licensure of family foster homes requires documentation from at least one of the following:

  • Inspection and/or investigation reports
  • Protective services reports and/or police reports
  • Arrest and/or conviction records
  • Mental health, medical, or treatment reports
  • Department of Family Services field office files

Reasons for the denial, revocation, or suspension of certification include, but are not limited to:

  • Any staff being convicted of an act of child abuse, neglect, or sexual offense, or being the subject of a substantiated abuse or neglect investigation
  • Any staff being convicted of a crime against children, including a misdemeanor
  • Any staff being convicted within the preceding 5 years of any felony classified as an offense against the person or family, public indecency, or the Wyoming Controlled Substance Act

Requirements for Adoptive Parents Ann. Stat. § 1-22-104; Code of Wyo. Rules § 049-040-001

Each petitioner shall file an affidavit with the adoption petition that states:

  • All felony convictions of the petitioner within the preceding 10 years
  • All misdemeanor convictions of the petitioner within the preceding 5 years
  • The current parole or probation status of the petitioner, if any

In regulation:When so ordered by the court, the department shall conduct an adoption home study. Information that may be required for the study includes criminal history checks, psychological evaluations from a licensed psychologist, and central registry checks.

Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights Ann. Stat. § 14-2-309

The parent-child legal relationship may be terminated if any one or more of the following facts is established by clear and convincing evidence:

  • The child has been left in the care of another person without provision for the child’s support and without communication from the absent parent for a period of at least 1 year.
  • The child has been abandoned with no means of identification for at least 3 months, and efforts to locate the parent have been unsuccessful.
  • The child has been abused or neglected by the parent, and reasonable efforts have been unsuccessful in rehabilitating the family or the family has refused rehabilitative treatment, and the child’s health and safety would be seriously jeopardized by remaining with or returning to the parent.
  • The parent is incarcerated due to the conviction of a felony, and the parent is found unfit to have the custody and control of the child.
  • The child has been in foster care for 15 of the most recent 22 months, and the parent is unfit to have custody and control of the child.
  • The child was abandoned at less than age 1 and has been abandoned for at least 6 months.
  • The child was relinquished to a safe haven provider, and neither parent has affirmatively sought the return of the child within 3 months from the date of relinquishment.
  • The parent was convicted of murder or homicide of the other parent of the child.
  • The parent has been convicted of any of the following crimes:
    • Murder or voluntary manslaughter of another child of the parent or aiding and abetting, attempting, conspiring to commit, or soliciting such a crime
    • A felony assault that results in serious bodily injury to a child of the parent
  • The parental rights of the parent to any other child have been terminated involuntarily.
  • The parent abandoned, chronically abused, tortured, or sexually abused the child.
  • Other aggravating circumstances exist indicating that there is little likelihood that services to the family will result in successful reunification.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parental Rights Ann. Stat. § 14-3-431

When a child has been placed in foster care under the responsibility of the State for 15 of the most recent 22 months, the State shall file a petition to terminate parental rights unless:

  • The child is in the care of a relative.
  • The State agency has documented in the case plan a compelling reason for determining that filing the petition is not in the best interests of the child.
  • The State agency has not provided services to the child’s family deemed necessary for the safe return of the child to the home, if reasonable efforts are required to be made.

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: Ann. Stat. § 1-22-104

The petitioners for adoption may be ordered by the court to undergo a home study.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study Citation: Code of Rules § 049-040-001

The Department of Family Services shall take applications for adoption services for prospective adoptive families only when ordered to do so by a court of competent jurisdiction or through an Interstate Compact request. All other individuals and families requesting adoptive home study services are to be referred to child-placing agencies.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents Citation: Ann. Stat. § 1-22-103

Any adult person who has resided in the State during the 60 days immediately preceding the filing of the petition for adoption and who is determined by the court to be fit and competent to be a parent may adopt in accordance with this act.

Elements of a Home Study Citation: Ann. Stat. § 1-22-104; Code of Rules § 049-040-001

Adoption proceedings shall be commenced by a petition filed in district court. An affidavit from each petitioner shall be attached to the petition setting forth:

  • Any previous or current diagnosed psychiatric disorders of the petitioner
  • All felony convictions of the petitioner within the preceding 10 years
  • All misdemeanor convictions of the petitioner within the preceding 5 years
  • The current parole or probation status of the petitioner, if any

In regulation: If the department is ordered by the court to conduct an adoptive home study, the applicant is to provide the following:

  • Names, addresses, age, sex, race and nationality; education, work, and employment records; physical description; verification of marriage(s) and divorce(s); financial statement of assets, liabilities, and income; family members and others living within the home
  • Names and addresses of five references who have known the applicant for a minimum of 2 years
  • A general physical examination, completed within the year, including fertility/infertility studies
  • Autobiographies of each applicant
  • A statement as to the motivation to adopt and the types of children the applicant would consider

Applicants must document that they are residents of the State.

Following the receipt of the above, interviews both at the department field office and the applicant’s home shall be conducted to provide the information needed to complete an adoptive home study and to assist in the evaluation of the suitability of placement of a child for adoption in that home. Such interviews shall be conducted within the timeframe specified by the court order, but in no case shall the process exceed 6 months from date of application.

Further information may be required such as criminal history checks, psychological evaluations from a licensed psychologist, and central registry checks.

Grounds for Withholding Approval Citation: Ann. Stat. § 1-22-111

The adoption petition may be denied if the court finds that the best interests and welfare of the child will be served by such denial.

When Studies Must Be Completed Citation: Code of Rules § 049-040-001

The study must be completed within the timeframe specified by the court order.

Infant Safe Haven Laws

Infant’s Age Citation: Ann. Stat. § 14-11-102

A newborn child may be relinquished. The term ‘newborn child’ means a child who is 14 days old or younger, as determined within a reasonable degree of medical certainty.

Who May Relinquish the Infant Citation: Ann. Stat. § 14-11-103

A parent or a parent’s designee may relinquish a newborn child to a safe haven provider in accordance with the provisions of this act and retain complete anonymity.

Who May Receive the Infant Citation: Ann. Stat. §§14-11-102; 14-11-103

The child may be left at any safe haven provider. A safe haven provider may be any of the following that is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week:

  • A fire station
  • A hospital
  • A police department or sheriff’s office
  • Any other place of shelter and safety identified by the Department of Family Services that meets the requirements of rules and regulations

The term ‘fire station’ means a fire station that is open and operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and that is continually staffed with full-time, paid firefighters who have emergency medical services training.

The term ‘hospital’ means a general acute hospital that is:

  • Equipped with an emergency room
  • Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Employs full-time health-care professionals who have emergency medical services training

Responsibilities of the Safe Haven Provider Citation: Ann. Stat. § 14-11-103

A safe haven provider shall accept a newborn child who is relinquished pursuant to the provisions of this act and may presume that the person relinquishing is the child’s parent or parent’s designee.

The parent or parent’s designee may provide information regarding the parent and newborn child’s medical histories, and identifying information regarding the nonrelinquishing parent of the child, but the safe haven provider may not require that any information be given.

A safe haven provider may provide any necessary emergency medical care to the newborn child and shall deliver custody of the newborn child to the nearest hospital as soon as possible.

A hospital receiving a relinquished newborn child may provide any necessary medical care to the child and shall notify the local child protective agency as soon as possible but no later than 24 hours after receiving the child.

Immunity for the Provider Citation: Ann. Stat. § 14-11-108

Any person, official, institution, or agency participating in good faith in any act required or permitted by this act is immune from any civil or criminal liability that might otherwise result by reason of the action. For the purpose of any civil or criminal proceeding, the good faith of any person, official, institution, or agency participating in any act permitted or required by this act shall be presumed.

Protection for Relinquishing Parent Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 14-11-103; 14-11-106

A parent or a parent’s designee relinquishing a newborn child may retain complete anonymity. The safe haven provider may not require that any information be given.

Relinquishment of a newborn child shall not, in and of itself, constitute abuse or neglect and the child shall not be considered an abused or neglected child, as long as the relinquishment is carried out in substantial compliance with provisions of this act.

If the person relinquishing a newborn child is the child’s parent or the parent’s designee, relinquishment of a newborn child in substantial compliance with the provisions of this act is an affirmative defense to any potential criminal liability for abandonment or neglect relating to that relinquishment.

Effect on Parental Rights Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 14-11-103; 14-11-104; 14-11-105

The local child protective agency shall assume care and custody of the child immediately upon notice from the hospital. After receiving custody, the local child protective agency shall assist in placement of the newborn child.

Unless reliable and sufficient identifying information relating to the newborn child has been provided, the Department of Family Services shall work with law enforcement agencies in an effort to ensure that the newborn child has not been identified as a missing child.

The Department of Family Services shall immediately place or contract for placement of the newborn child in a potential adoptive home. If neither parent of the newborn child affirmatively seeks the return of the child within 3 months after the date of delivery to a safe haven provider, the department shall file a petition for the termination of the parent-child legal relationship. Prior to filing a petition for termination, the department shall conduct a search of the putative father registry for unmarried biological fathers, and if the putative father is identified, he shall be given notice of the petition.

Regulation of Private Domestic Adoption Expenses

These issues are not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

The Rights of Unmarried Fathers

Legal Definition of Father Ann. Stat. § 1-22-101

A ‘parent’ is the child’s father or mother whose parental rights have not been judicially terminated.

A ‘putative father’ is the alleged or reputed father of a child born out of wedlock, whether or not the paternity rights and obligations of the father have been judicially determined.

Paternity Registry Ann. Stat. § 1-22-117

The Department of Family Services shall establish a putative father registry that shall record the names and addresses of:

  • Any person adjudicated by a court of this State to be the father of a child born out of wedlock
  • Any person who has filed with the registry before or after the birth of a child out of wedlock, a notice of intent to claim paternity of the child
  • Any person adjudicated by a court of another State or territory of the United States to be the father of an out-of-wedlock child, when a certified copy of the court order has been filed with the registry by that person or any other person
  • Any person who has filed with the registry an instrument acknowledging paternity

An unrevoked notice of intent to claim paternity of a child may be introduced in evidence by any party, other than the person who filed such notice, in any proceeding in which such fact may be relevant.

Alternate Means to Establish Paternity Ann. Stat. § 1-22-108

The putative father has no right to assert paternity in adoption, dependency, or termination of parental rights proceedings unless:

  • He is known and identified by the mother or agency.
  • He has lived with or married the mother after the birth of the child and prior to the filing of the petition to adopt.
  • Prior to the interlocutory hearing of the adoption proceedings, he has acknowledged the child as his own by affirmatively asserting paternity or registered as a putative father.

Required Information Ann. Stat. § 1-22-117

A person filing a notice of intent to claim paternity of a child or an acknowledgment of paternity shall include therein his current address and shall notify the registry of any change of address pursuant to procedures prescribed by regulations of the department.

Revocation of Claim to Paternity Ann. Stat. § 1-22-117

A person who has filed a notice of intent to claim paternity may at any time revoke a notice of intent to claim paternity previously filed therewith and, upon receipt of the notification by the registry, the revoked notice of intent to claim paternity shall be deemed a nullity nunc pro tunc.

Access to Information Ann. Stat. § 1-22-117

The department shall, upon request, provide the names and addresses of persons listed with the registry to any court or authorized agency, and such information shall not be divulged to any other person, except upon order of a court for good cause shown.

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 Citation: Ann. Stat. § 1-22-103

Any adult person who has resided in the State at least 60 days and has been determined to be fit and competent may adopt.

Who May Be Adopted Citation: Ann. Stat. § 1-22-102

Any child may be adopted who is present within the State when the petition is filed.

Who May Place a Child for Adoption Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 1-22-109; 1-22-101

The following persons may consent to the adoptive placement:

  • The child’s parent(s)
  • The child’s legal guardian or custodian
  • An agency
  • The legal guardian of any parent who is adjudged mentally incompetent

Post-Adoption Laws

Access to Adoption Records

Who May Access Information Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 1-22-116; 1-22-203

Nonidentifying medical information may be provided to:

Identifying information may be accessed by:

All parties must be age 18 or older.

Access to Nonidentifying Information Citation: Ann. Stat. § 1-22-116

To the extent available, the medical history of the adoptive child and his or her birth parents, with information identifying the birth parents eliminated, shall be provided to the child’s adoptive parent any time after the adoption decree or to the child after he or she attains the age of majority. The history shall include but not be limited to all available information regarding conditions or diseases believed to be hereditary, any drugs or medication taken during pregnancy by the birth mother, and any other information that may be a factor influencing the child’s present or future health.

Mutual Access to Identifying Information Citation: Ann. Stat. § 1-22-203

Any person listed above may petition the court to appoint one or more confidential intermediaries for the purpose of determining the whereabouts of an unknown birth relative, except that no one shall seek a relative who is a minor. Any information obtained by the intermediary shall be kept strictly confidential and shall be utilized only for the purpose of arranging a contact between the individual who initiated the search and the sought-after birth relative.

When a sought-after relative is located:

  • Contact shall be made between the parties only when written consent for such contact has been obtained from both parties and filed with the court.
  • If consent for personal communication is not obtained from both parties, all relinquishment and adoption records and any information obtained by any confidential intermediary during the course of his or her investigation shall be returned to the court and shall remain confidential.

Access to Original Birth Certificate Citation: Ann. Stat. § 35-1-417

The original birth certificate is not subject to inspection except by court order.

Where the Information Can Be Located

Wyoming Department of Family Services

Intestate Inheritance Rights for Adopted Persons

Birth Parents in Relation to Adopted Person Citation: Ann. Stat. § 2-4-107

An adopted person is the child of an adopting parent and of the birth parents for inheritance purposes only. The adoption of a child by the spouse of a birth parent has no effect on the relationship between the child and that birth parent.

Adoptive Parents in Relation to Adopted Person Citation: Ann. Stat. § 2-4-107

An adopted person is the child of an adopting parent and of both the natural parents for inheritance purposes only.

An adopted person shall inherit from all other relatives of an adoptive parent as though he or she was a child who was born to the adoptive parent, and the relatives shall inherit from the adoptive person’s estate as if they were his or her relatives.

Adopted Persons Who Are Not Included in a Will

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Postadoption Contact Agreements Between Birth and Adoptive Families

These issues are not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Laws Related to Intercountry Adoption

Effect and Recognition of a Foreign Adoption Decree

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Readoption After an Intercountry Adoption

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Application for a U.S. Birth Certificate

Ann. Stat. § 35-1-417(e)

The State Registrar of Vital Records shall establish a new certificate of birth, on a form he or she prescribes, for a person born in a foreign country upon receipt of a certified copy of the decree of adoption entered pursuant to § 1-22-111(a)(iii) and a request for a new certificate by the court decreeing the adoption, the adoptive parents, or the adoptee.

Source

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

References

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