Adoption has benefited many North Dakota parents and children by placing the children in a loving family environment and providing parents with a child to shower with love. The process of adoption, however, can be lengthy, and at times, frustrating or, occasionally, disappointing. Anyone thinking of adopting a child in North Dakota should understand the process.
All adoptions in North Dakota are handled by three private agencies that have been licensed by the state. These agencies perform the necessary investigations and evaluations of both the child and its prospective parents. These agencies charge fees that range from $5,000 to $11,000 or more. Fees are much lower for children adopted from the state’s foster care system. The services of a lawyer will be needed at some point to obtain court approval of the adoption, but these fees are usually modest.
After filing their application to adopt a child, the prospective parents must participate in the pre-placement evaluation. A trained social worker interviews the family members and prepares a report on the family’s suitability to become adoptive parents. Physical exams may also be required. The next step is waiting. The wait for a Caucasian child may require a wait of two to five years. The wait can be much shorter for African American children – probably less than six months. Adopting a child from another country may entail a one year wait. At this point (or earlier), the adopting family will need the services of an attorney to complete the formal aspects of the adoption. An adoption decree issued by a foreign country can be validated in North Dakota.
Parents interested in adoption may wish to consult a lawyer early in the process to ensure that they fully understand the various steps. Also, some adoptions have unexpected problems, and a knowledgeable attorney can help untie these knots.
Source: North Dakota Department of Human Services, “Steps to Adoption,” accessed on April 7, 2018