Adopting a child is a life-changing decision that requires careful consideration and a thorough understanding of the adoption process. In Missouri, there are specific guidelines and procedures that prospective adoptive parents must follow to navigate the adoption process successfully. This comprehensive guide aims to provide an overview of the adoption process in Missouri, including the different types of adoption, eligibility requirements, and the steps involved in adopting a child.

Types of Adoption in Missouri

Several avenues of adoption are pursued in Missouri, each with its own requirements and procedures. These include:

1. Domestic Infant Adoption: This type of adoption involves the placement of an infant with adoptive parents. Birth parents may choose to place their child for adoption through an adoption agency or through a private adoption arrangement.

2. Foster Care Adoption: Children in the foster care system who are unable to return to their biological families may become available for adoption. Prospective adoptive parents can work with the Missouri Department of Social Services to adopt a child from foster care.

3. International Adoption: Prospective adoptive parents in Missouri may choose to adopt a child from another country. This type of adoption involves compliance with both U.S. immigration laws and the laws of the child’s country of origin.

Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents

In order to adopt a child in Missouri, prospective adoptive parents must meet certain eligibility requirements. These requirements may vary depending on the type of adoption, but generally include:

  • Age: Prospective adoptive parents must be at least 21 years old.
  • Marital Status: Both married and single individuals can adopt in Missouri.
  • Financial Stability: Prospective adoptive parents must demonstrate that they are financially stable and able to provide for the needs of a child.
  • Background Checks: Prospective adoptive parents are required to undergo background checks, including criminal history and child abuse registry checks.

The Adoption Process

The adoption process in Missouri typically involves the following steps:

1. Orientation: Prospective adoptive parents must attend an orientation session, where they will receive information about the different types of adoption and the requirements for prospective adoptive parents.

2. Home Study: All prospective adoptive parents must undergo a home study, which includes interviews, background checks, and home visits conducted by a licensed social worker. The purpose of the home study is to assess the prospective adoptive parents’ readiness to adopt and to ensure that their home provides a safe and nurturing environment for a child.

3. Placement: Once approved as prospective adoptive parents, they will be matched with a legally available child. In domestic infant adoptions, this may involve working with an adoption agency or attorney to identify a birth parent who has chosen adoption for their child. In foster care adoptions, prospective adoptive parents may be matched with a child through the Missouri Department of Social Services.

4. Finalization: The final step in the adoption process is the legal finalization. This typically involves appearing before a judge to finalize the adoption and obtaining a new birth certificate for the adopted child.

Post-Adoption Support

After the adoption is finalized, many adoptive families may benefit from post-adoption support services. These services may include counseling, support groups, and resources to help families navigate the unique challenges and joys of parenting an adopted child.  One such organization is the Central Missouri Foster Care Adoption Association.

The adoption process in Missouri can be complex, but with the right information and support, prospective adoptive parents can successfully navigate the process and welcome a new child into their family. By understanding the different types of adoption, meeting eligibility requirements, and following the necessary steps, prospective adoptive parents can take the first steps toward building their forever family through adoption.

If you are considering adoption, have questions or concerns, or just want someone to stand by and help you through the process, please consider Brydon, Swearengen, and England. Our adoption attorneys have dealt with the state of Missouri and the adoption process for years. We are here for you and your growing family!