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).
WHO CAN ADOPT?
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)
WHAT DO I NEED TO FILE?
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