A Primer on Alabama Adoptions

By Jonathan A. Griffith

Previously published by The Alabama Lawyer.

 

Many attorneys love the idea of connecting a loving family with a child in need of a forever home, but are intimidated by the adoption process. This article is designed to help those lawyers.

Overview – Statutory Nature of the Adoption Process

The adoption process is statutory, and it demands strict compliance with Alabama’s Adoption Code, all of which is located in §§ 26-10A-1 to -35.

Pre-Placement Investigation (“Home Study”)

The adoption process begins when you file a petition for adoption. More about the petition is below.

However, when possible, the first step should be a pre-placement investigation (“home study”).[1] While it is ideal to complete this step before filing the petition, sometimes there is simply no time to complete a pre-placement home study, and the court may waive the requirement, or it may order a post-placement home study instead.[2]

The purpose of the pre-placement home study is to determine the suitability of the petitioners’[3] home (which is the adoptee’s future home), and it includes a criminal background investigation. The statute allows the petitioners to initiate the home study by a direct request through DHR or a licensed child-placing agency, or by filing a request with the probate court.[4] The petitioners should include a copy of the home study report with the petition for adoption.[5] By statute, the home study must be performed by DHR or a licensed individual or agency.[6]

However, the statute does not require a pre-placement home study for adoptions by stepparents or by relatives falling within one of several statutory categories.[7]

 

Read the whole article onThe Alabama Lawyer.

 

Need adoption advice or other family law matters? Contact the attorneys in our Christian Conciliation practice group today.

 

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