Many North Dakotans want to give a good home to a child in need of parents or to become the legal parent of a child who is already part of their family. The laws regarding adoption vary depending upon the circumstances.
Sometimes, family members will adopt a child when the parents are unavailable or unwilling to fulfill their responsibilities. A stepparent may adopt the child of his or her spouse. However, the child’s other biological parent must either agree to the adoption or have abandoned the child. Other family members, including aunts, uncles, grandparents and adult siblings may also adopt a child.
Children with special needs such as physical, mental and emotional disabilities can have difficulty getting adopted. Often, adoption subsidies are available to help parents with the costs of caring for a special needs child. State and national adoption exchanges are used to help give these children a better chance of finding a home.
Many people prefer to adopt healthy infants. In North Dakota, private adoption agencies place these infants. Some of these are “identified adoptions.” That means that the birth parents have found a family on their own for their child. In these adoptions, the birth parents relinquish their parental rights, and legal custody is passed directly to the adoptive parents.
In most cases, parents can choose a child from a different race or ethnic background than their own. However, there is an exception for American Indian children. Adoptions of these children are governed by the Indian Child Welfare Act. The ICWA is a federal law enacted in 1978 because as many as 35 percent of Indian children in some states were being taken from their families and their culture and placed with non-Indian families by adoption agencies, welfare agencies and state courts.
Many families choose to adopt a child who live in a country where they don’t have the kind of opportunities and resources available in the U.S. The procedures and legal requirements are different and more complex than they are when adopting an American child. However, there are hundreds of private adoption agencies throughout the country that help match families with these children.
Whatever the circumstances of the adoption, it’s important for North Dakota parents to seek guidance from an experienced family law attorney. This can help ensure that all laws and regulations are followed and that the process goes as smoothly as possible.
Source: North Dakota Department of Human Services, “Types of Adoption” Jan. 10, 2015