Knowledgeable Guidance Through The Adoption Process
An adoption in Massachusetts is a unique relationship between the birth parents, the adoptive parents, and the child. Each party in an adoption case has its own interests; however, a court’s biggest concern for anything family law related is the overall well-being of the child.
How Does Adoption Work?
If you are thinking about adopting a child, you may be wondering who can adopt children in Massachusetts? The answer is just about anyone. Any person who has reached the age of majority or is a minor and joins in the petition for adoption with their spouse for one of the parties’ biological children, may adopt in Massachusetts. One common misconception about adoptions is that you must be married to adopt a child.
The law requires that there be a consent form signed by the birth mother before she can surrender the child. An adoption and surrender consent can only be signed no sooner than four days after the birth of the child. When the surrender occurs, a notary and two witnesses must be present. The adoptive parent will have the opportunity to choose one of the witnesses. The following people must consent to an adoption:
- The child to be adopted if he or she is over the age of 12
- The child’s spouse (if any)
- The lawful parents (who may be previous adoptive parents or a surviving parent)
- The mother only if the child was born out of wedlock and not previously adopted
Consent is generally irrevocable except under certain circumstances. A birth parent can allege that they did not give consent by asserting duress or that the birth mother did not fully understand the document they were signing when they surrendered the child.
In rare cases, a parent who voluntarily gave consent to an adoption can ask a judge in the probate and family court to withdraw the consent. However, judges rarely allow the withdrawal of consent.
What Happens When Consent Isn’t Possible
What happens in situations where it is not possible to get parental consent. Consent may not be possible when the birth father cannot be located, was not named by the birth mother, or his identity is unknown. In these cases, a Petition to Dispense with Parental Consent may be filed.
To finalize the adoption, the child must live with the adoptive parents for six months before a petition for adoption can be filed with the probate and family court in the county where the adoptive parents live. The petition for adoption is typically signed by the adoptive parents at the end of the six months. The petition may be signed and filed with the court before the six months but the court will not accept it until six months have passed unless the court has waived the six-month requirement.