"Adoption" is an action that transfers all the rights and responsibilities of a natural parent, if known, to an adoptive parent. Once a child has been adopted, the natural or birth parents are no longer responsible for their child, nor do the birth parents have any legal rights or obligations to the child. It is as if the natural or birth parents become like any other third party with respect to the child. The adoptive parents become responsible for the child and all the obligations and rights between a parent and child are established between them. Following an adoption, the child's birth certificate is amended, showing the adoptive parents as the children's biological parents.
The formal procedure by which a legal adoption occurs differs from state to state. The procedures also vary depending on the type of adoption. Step-parent adoptions are the most common adoptions we handle through our office.
In North Dakota, step-parent adoptions are usually quite simple. With an attorney's help, the step-parent prepares initial papers, namely, a petition for adoption. That petition must be served upon the natural mother, the natural father, and the State.
Written consent to the adoption must also be obtained from the natural mother, natural father, the State, and the child being adopted, if the child is ten years of age or older.
It is not necessary to obtain consent from a parent who has abandoned a relationship with the involved child, for example, by failing to visit the child and/or pay child support for a set period of time.
A brief final court hearing must be held and the child must attend. If the court approves the adoption, it will also order that the child's birth certificate be revised to reflect the child's new name and parents.
These simple adoptions usually do not take longer than six weeks or so. In North Dakota, the termination of the biological parent's rights and the adoption can be satisfied in just one court action, meaning the termination of the biological parent's rights will occur with the granting of the adoption.
The information on this site is general in nature. Do not rely on any articles, postings or other information on these pages as legal advice. If you need legal advice about a particular matter, you should contact an attorney directly.