Blount County Probate


Adoption of Minors in Alabama

What is an adoption?
Adoption is the legal procedure through which a minor is recognized by law as being the son or daughter of the adopting adult(s) and as having all of the rights and duties of such relationship including the right of inheritance.  The adoptee takes the name designated by the petitioner.

Who may adopt?
Any adult or husband and wife jointly.  The Adoption Code specifically prohibits discrimination in granting adoptions on the basis of marital status or age.

Who can be adopted?
A minor, defined as being a person under the age of nineteen.

What steps are usually involved in an adoption?

What is a Pre-Placement Investigation?
It is an investigation conducted for the purpose of determining the suitability of each petitioner and the home in which the adoptee will be placed.  The
investigation will include a criminal background search and will focus on any other circumstances relevant to the placement of the adoptee.

Is it always necessary to have a Pre-Placement Investigation?
Yes, unless dispensed by the court for good cause or unless the persons seeking to adopt is a close relative of the adoptee as listed in §§ 26-10A-27; 26-10A-28 of the Code of Alabama.

Whose consent to the adoption is required?

Can a minor consent to the adoption of his or her child?
Yes, however, prior to such consent the court must appoint the minor parent a guardian ad litem to represent the minor's interests.  A minor who is 14 years of age or older can nominate a guardian ad litem to protect his or her interests.   However, if a minor father impliedly consents, it is not necessary to appoint him a guardian ad litem.

Can a person revoke a consent to adoption executed by him or her due to the fact that at the time the consent was given that person was a minor?
No, a consent or relinquishment executed by a parent who is a minor shall not be subject to revocation by reason of such minority.

When, where and in what form must a consent or relinquishment for adoption be given?
A consent or relinquishment for adoption may be given at any time.  The prebirth consent of the mother must be signed or confirmed before a probate judge.  All other prebirth or post-birth consent or relinquishments must be signed or confirmed before the Probate Judge or clerk of the Probate Court, or someone appointed by that court to do such, a person appointed by the agency conducting the investigation or a notary public.  The consent or relinquishment must be in substantially the same form as provided in the adoption code and must be in writing and signed by the person consenting or relinquishing.

When may a consent or relinquishment be withdrawn?
A consent or relinquishment may be withdrawn for any reason five days after the birth of the adoptee or five days after the signing of the consent or relinquishment whichever occurs later.   The time to withdraw the consent or relinquishment can be expanded to 14 days if the court finds that such delay is reasonable under the circumstances and is in the best interest of the child.

Where is a petition for adoption filed?
A petition for adoption may be filed in the probate court of any of the following counties:  where the minor resides; where the petitioner resides or is in military service, or where the office of the agency or institution having guardianship or custody of the minor is located.

When is a petition for adoption filed?
The adoption petition must be filed within 30 days after the minor is placed with the prospective adoption parent(s) for adoption. If the person seeking the adoption is a stepparent or relative of the adoptee then the adoptee must reside with the petitioner for a year before such petition is filed.  If the child has not lived with the stepparent or relative for a year, the adoption will proceed in the same manner as all other adoptions unless the court waives the residence requirement.

Can I pay the parent of a minor or unborn child for the child?
No!  An offer to make such payment is a Class A misdemeanor, to receive payment for a person's consent to adoption is a Class C felony.

What expenses can I pay?
A person seeking to adopt a child may pay maternity connected medical or hospital and necessary living expenses of the mother preceding and during pregnancy and during pregnancy related incapacity as long as such payments are made as an act of charity and such payment is not contingent upon placement of the child for adoption.  All fees and expenses, including legal, medical, investigative, or other legitimate professional fees may only be paid with court approval.

How confidential is an adoption?

What is the difference between an adoption by a stepparent or a close family member and other adoptions?
Unlike all other adoptions, usually no preplacement or postplacement investigation nor accounting of the cost relating to the adoption are required. In order to be exempt from these requirements, the adoptee must have lived with the petitioner for at least one year. 

Can grandparents obtain visitation rights to see the adoptee after the adoption?
Ordinarily the grandparents have no visitation rights with their grandchildren when the natural parents rights have been terminated by adoption.  However, at the court's discretion the court may allow such visitation rights if the child is adopted by a close relative or a stepparent provided it is in the child's best interests.

This pamphlet, which is based on Alabama Law is to inform and not to advise.  No person should ever apply or interpret any law without the aid of a lawyer who analyzes the facts, because the facts may change the application of the law.

2009 Prepared by the Alabama Law Institute for the Alabama Probate Judges’ Association