Minnesota Adoption Basics

Considering Adoption? Considering a Minnesota Stepparent Adoption? Considering a Minnesota International Adoption? Adoption is a judicial proceeding that has the effect of transferring all rights and responsibilities of a natural parent, if known, to an adoptive parent. Below are some of the highlights in the adoption process.

Commencement of the Minnesota Adoption Proceeding: A Minnesota adoption proceeding is commenced by the petitioner filing a petition for adoption in the juvenile court of the county in which the petitioner resides. The proceeding may be transferred to a juvenile court of another county if the petition changes residence and the transfer is in the child’s best interests.

Consent Required: The court will not grant an adoption unless the child’s parents and guardian, if there is one, consent to the adoption. Generally, consent is not required in the following instances [1]:

  1. If the parent is not entitled to notice of the proceedings;
  2. If the parent has abandoned the child or lost custody through a divorce decree or decree of dissolution, provided that the parent s served with notice of the adoption hearing;
  3. If the parent has had the parental rights to the child terminated by a juvenile court or lost custody of the child through a final commitment of juvenile court or through a decree in a prior adoption proceeding;
  4. If there is no parent or guardian qualified to consent to the adoption, in which case the consent may be given by the commissioner of human services; and
  5. If the commissioner or the agency having authority to place a child for adoption has exclusive right to consent to the adoption of the child. However, the commission may delegate the right to consent to the adoption or separation of siblings, if it is in the child’s best interest, to a local social services agency.

Notice of Adoption Hearing: Minnesota Statutes requires that notice of a hearing on an adoption petition be given to certain individuals. See your attorney for details or refer to Minnesota Statutes Section 259.49 for the full list.

Father’s Adoptive Registry: In 1997, the legislature created the father’s adoption registry requiring a parent to file notice of retention of parental rights in order to protect parental rights and to be entitled to notice of termination, adoption or other proceedings affecting the child.

A “putative father” is a male who may be a child’s father but who is not married to the child’s mother on or before the date the child was or is to be born and has not been adjudicated the father of the child. The putative fathers’ adoption registry is maintained by the commissioner of health. The registry includes information about the putative father, the mother, and the child.

The commissioner of health is required to notify the mother of the child whenever a putative father has registered with the father’s adoption agency, by sending notice to the name and address submitted by the putative father.

Investigations: After a petition for adoption is filed, the court is required to forward a copy of the petition to the commissioner of human services. The commissioner then will immediately refer the petition to the appropriate agency for a post-placement assessment and report to be completed within 90 days. The commissioner is required to submit a written report to the court, with a recommendation as to whether the adoption petition should be granted. The court may waive the requirements of an investigation and three-month residence in the proposed home if the petition is submitted by a stepparent or in other situations if good cause is shown.

Hearings and Decree: All adoption proceedings are confidential, and the hearings are closed to the public. If after the hearing the court finds it is in the best interests of the child that the petition be granted, a decree of adoption is entered ordering that henceforth the child shall be the child of petition. The court may change the name of the child if requested in the petition. After the decree is issued, the petitioner may order a new birth certificate showing the adoptive parents as the parents of the child.

For more information about this and other Minnesota family law related matters, contact Chris Banas at 651-492-1069.

[1] Minnesota Statutes Section 259.49

Categories: Adoption, Family Law