Adoptions in Massachusetts

​Private, Post-Home Study legal advice

Massachusetts is an "agency" state, meaning that a private adoption between parties is not allowed. Rather, in virtually every adoption there is a requirement that either DSS or a licensed agency be involved and approve the adoption. However, there are some occasions when this requirement can be waived.
Most adoptions will be filed in the Probate and Family Court of the county where the adoptive parents reside. After all the necessary papers are filed, a hearing will be held in which a judge will review the papers. If everything is in order, the judge will approve the adoption. A more detailed description of each of these steps is provided below. It is important that all steps are followed to comply with each of the requirements. (Visit the "Resources" page to view the Adoption Checklist).


In Massachusetts, it must be a U.S. citizen who is eighteen(18) years of age. The adopted child must be younger than him or her, unless the person to be adopted is the spouse, brother, sister, uncle, or the aunt of the person seeking to adopt. Additionally, the child to be adopted must have lived with you for a least six(6) months. Although, under some circumstances, the 6 month requirement can be waived. For married couples, both spouses' names must be included on the adoption petition.

Unmarried couples may also adopt, whether same-sex or not.

(NOTE: You are still legally married if your divorce has not reached Judgement or you are separated. Therefore, you should first finalize your divorce so that you can pursue the adoption in your name only if that is your preference)


  1. Petition for Adoption
  2.  Affidavit of Petitioner for Adoption
  3.  Birth Certificate of child
  4. (if married) Marriage Certificate 
  5. (if divorced) Certified Copy of Divorce Judgment
  6.  CARI - Criminal Record Check
  7. "Home Study" completed by DSS or licensed agency
  8.  Affidavit of Care and Custody
    Other forms sometimes necessary:
  9.  Affidavit from DSS Regarding a Search of the Parental Responsibility Claims 
  10. Federal and Central Registers of Missing Children Search Request
  11.  Surrender Forms
  12.  Judgments from other Legal Proceedings
  13.  Affidavit of Indigency and Requests for Waiver of Fees and Costs and Motion to Request Court to Pay Costs

No filing fee required at the Probate and Family Court.

The adoption is final when the Court has granted the adoption and declared you as the child's lawful parent. See Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 210, s. 6.
This happens after all the required papers are filed with the appropriate court and your hearing has been scheduled. Depending on the Court, a hearing could be 30 - 60 days after filing the petition.

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