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Adoption Laws

Adopting a child into your family is an exciting decision that will forever positively impact your life and the life of your child. When you’re ready to adopt a child, contact a family law attorney at Carmody, Stewart, & Mixon to answer your questions and make the process simple and enjoyable for you and your family.

Adoption Procedure

Once all the formalities are met, an adoption can be granted fairly quickly in Mississippi. The adopting parent may be a single person or a married couple, if both spouses consent to the adoption. Although Mississippi statute states only heterosexual couples may adopt, through it’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015, the United States Supreme Court has overriden Mississippi statute and same sex couples are also eligible to adopt children in the state of Mississippi.

The adoption process must involve the person or persons who have legal or physical custody of the child if that person is not the same as the adoptive parent. If the natural parents’ rights have already been terminated, they do not need to be party to the adoption process. But if the natural parents have not had their parental rights terminated, the natural parents must consent to the adoption. Further, if the child to be adopted is over the age of fourteen, the child must consent to the adoption. Some adoption cases require the appointment of a Guardian ad Litem or a home visit by a registered adoption agency or social worker.

In the final order of adoption, the adoptive parents receive full parental rights and the order will direct for a new birth certificate to be issued which shows the adoptive parents as the child’s natural parents. The child will gain inheritance rights from their adoptive parents and the chancellor can order the legal change of the child’s name, if desired. By statute, the chancellor has discretion to grant an adoption that is within the child’s best interest, even if that adoption is nontraditional. All adoption proceedings are closed to the public and the records are confidential to protect the child’s privacy.

Foreign Adoptions

If you have adopted a child from another country and live in Mississippi, you should have your adoption finalized in Mississippi. This process will register your foreign adoption and afford your child a Mississippi birth certificate. Call our office today to discuss how we can help you finalize your foreign adoption.

Termination of Parental Rights

Parental rights can be terminated either voluntarily or involuntarily, but it is always up to the discretion of the chancellor whether it is in the best interest of the child to terminate the rights of a natural parent. Under the United States Constitution, parents have the right to raise their children. However, when a child’s safety or wellbeing is endangered, courts may terminate the parent-child relationship for the benefit of the child when there is a substantial amount of proof that the parent has abandoned, neglected, or abused their child. In some cases, parental rights cannot be terminated until it is shown that the parent has not complied with efforts to reunify the parent and child, in other cases, there is no obligation to attempt to reunify the parent and child.

Before a child can be adopted, there must be a termination of the rights of the natural mother and any man who was married to the mother at the time of birth, is listed as the father on the birth certificate, or is believed to be the father of the child. A man who is not married to the mother but has evidenced a desire to parent his child within 30 days of the child’s birth cannot have his rights terminated without being provided with notice of the termination action.

An agency, such as the Department of Child Protective Services, institution, a person with custody of the child, or with an interest in the welfare of the child can petition to involuntarily terminate the rights of a natural parent. Alternatively, some parents voluntarily surrender their children to CPS or they can file an affidavit with the court to voluntarily terminate their parental rights. By statute, there are ways to surrender a child you cannot care for without incurring criminal liability for yourself. When parental rights are terminated involuntarily, the court will appoint a Guardian ad Litem to investigate and report to the court what is in the best interest of the child.

When you have questions about adopting a child, finalizing your foreign adoption, reporting suspected abuse or neglect of a child, or terminating parental rights, call Carmody, Stewart, & Mixon today. You will receive a free consultation and compassionate legal advice that is specific to your situation.

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