Adoption

The decision to adopt a child (or adult) can be an exciting and emotional event, but it is also a serious matter because it involves the well-being of a child. 

Adoption
Adoption is a legal process that gives adoptive parents and adoptees (the persons being adopted) legal rights, benefits, and protections. The person being adopted could be a minor (under the age of 18) or an adult. Adoption cases, including court files and hearings, are confidential and not open to the public or non-parties, except by court order.
 
There are legal impacts to any adoption, whether it is for a minor or an adult. They affect the person being adopted, the birth family, and the adopting parents. See the FAQs tab for a summary of some of the legal impacts of adoption. It is recommended that you talk to a lawyer to learn more about these impacts.
 
Minor (Child) Adoption
The decision to adopt a child can be an exciting and emotional event, but it is also a serious matter because it involves the well-being of a child. Adoption laws are based on the best interests of the child, and certain laws give special protection for children such as the Indian Child Welfare Act. Different types of minor adoptions include:
 
  • Relative adoption (also called "kinship" adoption);
  • Step-parent adoption;
  • Agency adoption (including children who are wards of the state and children placed through private agencies such as charitable or religious organizations);
  • Private adoption (usually arranged between biological parents and adoptive parents, and facilitated by an adoption lawyer); and
  • International or intercountry adoption.
Adult Adoption
An adult adoption is the adoption of a person who is 18 years of age or older. In MN, any adult person may be adopted regardless of where they live.

Adoptee

The person being adopted.

Adoption Agency

An organization or department of government designated or authorized by law to place children for adoption.

Adult Adoption

The adoption of a person 18 years of age or older.

Commissioner

The Commissioner of Human Services of the state of MN.

Consent

Permission for the adoption to happen, which could be given by an adult adoptee, a child adoptee who is 14 years or older, or a biological parent of a child adoptee.

Minor

Another word for “child,” which is a person under the age of 18 years.

Petitioner

The person asking to adopt someone.

Putative Father

Generally speaking, a man who has not been established as the legal father but may be the biological father of a child, and he and the mother were not married to at the time of the child's birth.

Vulnerable Adult

Someone over the age of 18 that is unable to take care of themselves, or unable to protect themselves against significant harm or exploitation. See Minn. Stat. § 626.5572, subd. 21

Where do I file an adoption?

Adoption cases can be filed in the county where the petitioner (the person who is adopting someone) lives.

Do you have to live in MN to file an adoption case in MN?

Yes. The petitioner in an adoption case generally must have lived in MN for at least one year in order to file in MN. However, the court can modify (change) or waive the residency requirement in certain situations, such as when it would be in the best interests of the child or the petitioning adoptive parent is a family member of the child. See Minn. Stat § 259.22, subd. 1.

What are the court procedures for a minor (child) adoption?

MN law requires that adoptions be filed in court so that the best interests of the child can be protected. An adoption involves much more than filing papers with the court, and the exact steps you need to follow and the papers you need to file depend on the type of adoption you are filing. Generally, the steps of the court process include:
 
  • The adoption case is filed with the juvenile court in the county where the petitioner(s) lives;
  • Petitioner(s) must file a petition (and written consents or other documents depending on the type of adoption) and a proposed adoption decree;
  • A home study and background check is done of the petitioner(s);
  • There is a hearing before a judge; and
  • If the judge grants the petition, the court issues an adoption decree (court order for adoption).
There may be other steps and requirements that you will need to follow. If you have questions about the procedures in your case, it is a good idea to talk to a lawyer.

How can I adopt an adult?

To adopt an adult, a Petition for Adult Adoption must be filed in MN in the county where the petitioner lives. The adult adoptee must consent to the adoption and attend a court hearing with the petitioner.

What are the legal consequences of an adoption?

The following is a brief summary of some, but not all, of the legal impacts of adoption:
 
  • The person being adopted, whether they are a minor or an adult, becomes the legal child of the adopting parent.  The adopting parent becomes the legal parent of the person being adopted, with all the rights and responsibilities that come with being a legal parent.
  • As a result of the adoption, the adoptee (the person being adopted) will have the same right to inherit from the adoptive parent(s) as a birth child.
  • The adoption can end the parent-child relationship between the adoptee and one or both of their birth parents.  If the petitioner is a stepparent, the legal relationship between the biological parent and the adult adoptee will not be affected, so long as the biological parent is included as a co-petitioner.
  • The adoption can end the sibling relationship between the adoptee and their biological siblings, unless otherwise stated in the court order.

How can I start a stepparent adoption of a minor when the address of the other parent is unknown?

The MN Judicial Branch only publishes forms for a stepparent adoption that is uncontested (meaning the other biological parent agrees to their rights being terminated and will sign a consent form).  If you are not able to find the other biological parent or they are not willing to consent to their rights being terminated, you are strongly encouraged to talk to a lawyer.

How can I stop my child’s mother from placing my child for adoption?

Your options may depend on if paternity has been established.
 
If you think you may be the father of a child born to a woman who is not your wife, but paternity has not yet been established by a Recognition of Parentage form or court order, you can register with the MN Father's Adoption Registry. The Registry makes it possible for you to be notified if a petition to adopt the child is filed in a MN court. You must register no later than 30 days after the child's birth. If it has been more than 30 days, you should talk to a lawyer. You can also visit the Paternity Help Topic page for more information about establishing paternity.
 
If paternity has already been established either through a Recognition of Parentage form or court order, the adoption process requires the petitioner to serve any existing legal parent with court paperwork so they are notified of the court proceedings and have an opportunity to object to the adoption. The MN Judicial Branch does not publish forms for objecting to an adoption.
 
Whether paternity has been established or not, if your child is involved in adoption proceedings, you should talk to a lawyer.

Does an adoptee need to consent to an adoption?

Adult adoptees and minors aged 14 and above must sign a consent form in order to be adopted. See Minn. Stat. § 259.24.

Can my spouse adopt my child if the biological parent refuses to consent?

Maybe. If the other parent will not consent to a stepparent adoption, you are encouraged to talk to a lawyer.

If I live in MN, can I open a case in MN to adopt someone who lives out of state?

Yes, as long as you meet MN’s residency requirements. The petitioner in an adoption case generally must have lived in MN for at least one year in order to file in MN. However, the court can modify (change) or waive the residency requirement in certain situations, such as when it would be in the best interests of the child or the petitioning adoptive parent is a family member of the child. See Minn. Stat § 259.22, subd. 1.

If I allow my child to be adopted by someone else, will I still be obligated to pay ongoing child support?

No. An adoption terminates the non-petitioning parent’s parental rights. Because you would no longer be considered a parent of the child, you would not be required to make any future child support payments. However, you would generally still be required to pay off any arrears (back child support) that you may have.
Forms

Adoption law is complicated. The MN Judicial Branch does not publish forms for every type of adoption. Court staff cannot give legal advice, so we strongly encourage you to talk with a lawyer licensed in MN who has experience with adoptions.

The MN Judicial Branch publishes uncontested step-parent adoption forms, adult adoption forms, forms related to the Father's Adoption Registry, and some other adoption forms.
 
You may also be able to find adoption forms from the MN Dept. of Human Services, at law libraries, sold by legal publishers, or drafted by lawyers.

Laws & Rules on AdoptionThe following is a list of some of the laws and rules related to adoption in MN. See Laws, Rules & Legal Research for additional resources.
  You can get more help with your legal research at law libraries throughout MN. Law libraries are open to the public, but hours will vary.

We strongly encourage you to talk with a lawyer about how the laws and rules may affect your case.