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Frequently Asked Questions About Adoption in Louisiana, Adoptive Parent-Related

ADOPTIVE PARENT-RELATED QUESTIONS

  1. Who can be an adoptive parent and who selects them?

There are three types of adoption in Louisiana: Agency, Pivate, and Intrafamily. The Children's Code is the same for all three types: a single person, 18 years or older, or a married couple may jointly petition to adopt a child. When one joint petitioner dies after the petition has been filed, the adoption proceedings may continue as though the survivor was a single original petitioner. Art 1198, 1221, 1243.

  1. What information about the birth parents and the child must be provided to the adoptive parents?

A Statement of Family History, which includes medical and genetic information. Article 1125 states that this must contain the date of birth of the biological parents, explicit medical genetic history of the biological parents and their immediate families, and the form for the statement of family history.

Also Article 1127.1 states that after the adoptive placement of the child, the agency or person to whom surrender is made shall have a continuing duty to maintain these records and supplement them if additional non-identifying medical or genetic information is received about the adopted child or a surrendering biological parent.

  1. What procedures are followed to ensure that adoptive parents are fit to adopt a child?

Article 1171. The adoptive parent needs to have pre-placement approval of their adoptive home (home study), or have their approved for placement by a court of competent jurisdiction.

  1. Can the potential adoptive parents have the child placed with them prior to the actual court procedure?

Yes, the child must have lived with the adoptive parents for six months prior to filing a petition to finalize the adoption. Art 1171.

  1. Can the adoptive parents prevent the birth parents from communicating with the child after the adoption?

Yes. The adoptive parents are the legal parents and have the same rights as other parents regarding their children, however, if there is a continued contact agreement the adoptive parents would need to comply with the terms of the agreement. Article 1037.1 Chapter 14-A, Articles 1269.1-7. The statute does not provide a mechanism for Court oversight of the agreement.

  1. Under what circumstances can an adopted child communicate with the birth parents?

An adopted child may communicate with their birth parent if both the adoptive parent and biological parents have agreed to the contract. However, it is ultimately the adoptive parents' decision regarding the type and duration of the communication.

Adult adoptees may attempt to locate their biological family through the Louisiana Adoption Reunion Registry. It is managed exclusively by the State Agency, the Louisiana Office of Community Services. Adopted persons have to be age 18 in order to register. For there to be a match/reunion (the exchange of any identifying information) both the adopted person and birth parent have to register - voluntarily, independently. If only one of them gets on the Registry, nothing happens.

  1. What information must the birth parents provide to the adoptive parents?

Medical and genetic information.

A Statement of Family History, which includes medical and genetic information. Article 1125 states that the history must contain the date of birth of the biological parents, explicit medical genetic history of the biological parents and their immediate families, and the form for the statement of family history.

Also Article 1127.1 states that after adoptive placement of the child, the agency or person to whom surrender is made shall have a continuing duty to maintain these records and supplement them if additional non-identifying medical or genetic information is received about the adopted child or a surrendering biological parent.

  1. Who supervises the adoptive placement and for how long?

The state employs adoption specialists to provide case management and supportive services. Private agency staff members supervise their placements. Attorney assisted placements have a period of supervision by the Adoption Petition Unit of the Office of Community Services. Art 1297.

  1. When is the adoption final?

The adoption is final at the time of the adoption finalization hearing, one that results in a final decree of adoption. Art 1217

COURT SPECIFIC PROCEDURES

  1. Who initiates the adoption process?

Either the birth parents or the adoptive parents may start the adoption process either by initiating an adoption plan or by initiating a home study, respectively. Officially, the adoptive parents start the legal process through the filing of the adoption petition through their attorney or an adoption agency. Art 1208

  1. When are the legal adoption papers filed with the court?

Initially the Act of Surrender documents must be filed with the court shortly after the signings. The child must then be in the home for a period of at least six months before the filing of the adoption petition. Art 1208

  1. When do the birth parents actually sign the legal documents for adoption?

At time of parental surrender the child becomes available for adoption - anytime after the child is five days old (not counting the day of birth) papers must be signed. Article 1130

  1. What happens if the birth parents do not agree on the adoption plan?

The parents must agree on the adoption plan assuming that they have each retained their parental rights. The father must have established his parental rights and proven capability to the court.

  1. Can the baby be placed for adoption without the consent of the birth mother and/or birth father?

Yes, such as in removal and subsequent termination of parental rights for abuse/neglect. See chapter 4, Grounds of Involuntary Termination. Art 1015

SPECIAL ISSUES

  1. Can a Native American child be placed for adoption without the approval of the Tribe?

No. This is assuming that the child is elilgible for membership in one of the federally recognized tribes. Louisiana adoption laws include compliance with ICWA.

  1. Can children be placed for adoption with parents of a different race, color or national origin?

Yes, Louisiana adoption law adheres to MEPA/IEPA.

  1. Can a child born with birth anomalies or organic impairments be placed for adoption?

Yes. Louisiana has many special needs children available for adoption. Almost 80% of the foster children placed in adoption are considered special needs; many of them are physically and mentally challenged.

CHILD WELFARE/SPECIAL NEEDS

  1. Can a child born to illegal/undocumented alien parents be placed for adoption?

Yes, any child born in Louisiana can be placed for adoption. The law is silent.

  1. What rights do birth grandparents have in their child's decision to place a child for adoption?

None. They have the right to voice their opinion, and relative placement preference is a mandated consideration at the front end of the public child welfare continuum. However, once a child becomes available for adoption, then neither the parents nor grandparents have standing regarding placement decisions. Related information-Art 1264 is about visitation rights of grandparents if they are the parents of a deceased parent such as in step parent adoptions.

  1. Who can engage in the practice of adoption?

In Louisiana, agencies must be licensed to engage in the practice of adoption. Louisiana attorneys handle private adoptions. Additionally, pre-placement home studies may be done by a licensed agency, licensed clinical social worker, licensed professional counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist. Art 1172

CHILD PROTECTION LAW

  1. Under what conditions must have a health care professional refer a case of a pregnant child to the State's child protective services agency?

La CC article 603 Definitions: (13) "mandatory reporter" is any of the following individuals performing their occupational duties: (a) "health practitioner" is any individual who provides health care services, including a physician, surgeon, physical therapist, dentist, resident, intern hospital staff members, podiatrist, chiropractor, licensed nurse, nursing aide, dental hygienist, any emergency medical technician, paramedic, optometrist, medical examiner, or coroner, who diagnoses, examines, or treats a child or his family.

Article 609-A. (1) states that "Notwithstanding any claim of privileged communication, any mandatory reporter who has cause to believe that a child's physical or mental health or welfare is endangered as a result of abuse or neglect or that abuse or neglect was a contributing factor in a child's death shall report..."

MINOR CONSENT LAWS

  1. What medical procedures may a pregnant minor consent to without parental, legal, guardian, or court approval?

Not known. RS 40:1299.35.5 states: No physician shall perform or induce an abortion upon any pregnant woman who is under the age of 18 years and who is not emancipated judicially or by marriage unless the physician has received a notarized statements signed the legal guardian (parent, guardian, tutor), or a court order.

  1. Can a minor consent to medical treatment for her/his child?

A minor may consent to medical treatment for his/her minor child. RS 1299.53

Additional resources provided by the author

Infant Adoption Training Initiative: http://www.iaatp.com/

Louisiana State Legislature: http://www.legis.state.la.us/lss/search.htm

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