Adoption is a wonderful process in which a child becomes a member of your family. The laws of adoption in Massachusetts are different in some ways from those in other states. So, how does adoption work in Massachusetts?
Adoption in Massachusetts
Under Massachusetts law, any adult, or married couple is legally allowed to adopt. Additionally, a married person may adopt without the consent or knowledge of their spouse under certain circumstances, such as if the other spouse is incarcerated or unable to give consent due to incapacity.
To adopt a child under the age of 14, Massachusetts law asserts the following situations must exist:
- The child was placed with the person by either the Department of Children and Families (DCF) or a licensed adoption agency.
- DCF or an authorized agency approves the adoption in writing.
- The child is a blood relative.
- The person is a stepparent of the child.
- The person was named in a will by the deceased parents as the guardian or adoptive parent.
The process for adoption occurs over several stages. Once the decision is made to pursue an adoption, they must prove to DCF that they should be allowed to adopt. This proof may include a home study investigation, in which a DCF agent will ensure that the proposed living arrangements are adequate and offer a safe home for the child. This process may not be required in all circumstances, especially if the child has been living with the prospective family for more than six months.
Who Must Consent for Adoption?
Under Massachusetts law, a child may be put up for adoption provided written consent is given at least four days after the birth of the child. This consent must be signed in the presence of a public notary and at least two witnesses, one of which is chosen by the consenting parent. The child’s surviving lawful parents must grant this consent. If the child is born out of wedlock, however, and no father is known or claimed, only the mother is required to grant permission.
Consent for adoption is not required under certain circumstances. Consent is not required if the person up for adoption is over the age of 18, or if the family law court rules that adoption is in the best interests of the child. These instances include when the child:
- Was abandoned
- Is the victim of abuse or neglect
- Has not had meaningful contact with the parents for at least six months
- Has been in the custody of the state for 12 of the previous 15 months
- Forms a strong bond with a caregiver in the father’s absence
Additionally, a child may be put up for adoption if the parent:
- Suffers from drug or alcohol abuse problems
- Fails to care for the child adequately
- Has not remedied conditions which pose a risk to the child
- Displays a pattern of neglect
- Is a convicted felon and fails to provide a stable home for years
What Happens if Consent is Not Given for Adoption?
If consent is not given for adoption by either the birth parent(s) or the court, it is in the prospective adopter’s best interest to speak with an experienced family law attorney to evaluate their situation. Make sure you talk with the Shapiro Law Group today. Pick up the phone and dial 339-200-9933 to talk with a knowledgeable and caring family lawyer.