Written by attorney Jacquelyn Diane Tomlinson

An Overview of Adoption in Alabama

Adoptions can be a very rewarding area of law to practice. There are a few things that someone who is looking into an adoption proceeding needs to know. First off, the Probate Courts of Alabama have original jurisdiction over adoption proceedings brought within the state. This being said, if the termination of a natural parents rights becomes an issue due to a lack of consent or an inability to consent, then the Juvenile Court with proper authority will assume jurisdiction of the matter the determine the issue (Ala. Code § 26-10A-3).The Juvenile Court does not have the authority to grant an adoption (Ex Parte C.L.C, 897 So.2d 234 (Ala 2004)).

Any adult person can adopt a minor child in Alabama. This being said, if a married couple wishes to adopt a child, or adult for that matter, husband and wife must both consent to the adoption proceeding (Ala. Code. § 26-10A-5(a)). The Department of Human Resources (DHR) cannot prevent an adoption of a child solely because the petitioner in unmarried or because they are a certain age. Adult adoptions are permitted in the State of Alabama and that statute is codified in Alabama Code § 26-10A-6.

A petition for adoption requires that certain individuals consent to the adoption or make certain relinquishments to DHR or a licensed child placement agency for adoption in specific situations provided for by Alabama Code. § 26-10A-7. This is usually the biological parents or foster family of the child. The petition for adoption must also be consented to by the agency or department to which a minor child has been relinquished or whose custody the minor child has been in, unless the court finds that the adoption is in the best interest of the child even though the agency unreasonably withholds consent (Ala. Code. § 26-10A-7(4)).

Furthermore, the adoptive parents and the parent or parents surrendering the child for adoption cannot pay or receive money for giving up custody of the child or for taking in the child. The first conviction for violating this rule is a class A misdemeanor but subsequent convictions are punishable as class C felonies (Ala. Code. § 26-10A-23).

Any person not authorized to place a child or adoption who does can be convicted of a class A misdemeanor, and any subsequent conviction for the same crime can be punished as a class C felony. “Baby selling" for purposes of adoption is criminal in Alabama. Is it a class A misdemeanor for a person or agency to offer parents to pay money for their consenting to or cooperating in an adoption. Actual payment for this constitutes a class C felony.

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