Missouri Adoption Laws

What You Need to Know About Adoption Laws in Missouri

As a prospective adoptive family in Missouri, you may have some questions about what the state’s laws are regarding adoption. Because adoption laws change from state to state, understanding the process can be somewhat difficult. To help matters, we’ve compiled some of the Missouri adoption laws that might affect you in one place.

Please note that laws do change from time to time, so it’s always best to make sure you’re up to date with your attorney or adoption agency. The information contained in this article is not intended as legal advice. Having a professional to walk you through each step of the legal process is invaluable.

Who can adopt in Missouri?

Any adult or married couple. LGBT status is not addressed in the state’s laws, nor is state residency an issue. As long as a prospective adoptive parent completes a home study and approval process, he or she can adopt in the state of Missouri.

Can felons adopt in Missouri?

It depends on the nature of the felony. If it’s of a violent crime or involving children, then the answer to this question is most likely no. When going through the home study process, your home study provider will speak with you about the nature of the felony, what you’ve learned from it, and how you’ve changed to see if you’re eligible to adopt a child.

Can adoptive parents advertise for birth parents in Missouri?

Yes.

Can adoptive parents pay for birth parent expenses?

Yes. Adoptive parents may pay for pregnancy-related expenses for the birth parents. This may include medical costs for the birth mom, counseling, legal expenses, and living expenses, such as food, rent, utilities, transportation and clothing.

Does Missouri have a putative father registry?

Yes. This is a record of the names and addresses of men who believe they are the fathers of children born outside of marriage. If a man wants to officially claim that he is the father of a child born out of wedlock, he can put his name on the putative father registry before paternity is established. This will allow him to be contacted to give or deny consent to the child’s adoption should the mother choose that route. (Note: His denial of consent does not automatically mean the adoption cannot continue.)

What rights does a birth father have in Missouri?

A man may have parental rights if:

  • He is/was married to the child’s mother and the child was born during or within 300 days from the end of the marriage

  • He and the mother attempted to marry, but the marriage could be declared invalid

  • He has acknowledged in writing that he is the child’s father

  • He has given consent to be listed as the child’s father on the birth certificate

  • He volunteers in writing to support the child or is ordered to by a court

  • A genetic test deems him the father

If a man has parental rights for a child, he will receive notice of any court proceedings, adoption petitions or actions to terminate his parental rights.

If the presumed father doesn’t know about the pregnancy and doesn’t claim paternity, he has no right to withhold consent to an adoption unless the mother has misrepresented or lied about the pregnancy.

If the father is unknown, if he has denied paternity, if he doesn’t respond to notices, or if he has abandoned the child, his consent is not necessary for the birth mother to pursue adoption.

Birth father rights, as you can see, are complex, and they vary by situation. None of this information serves as legal advice. To speak with an adoption professional about your personal situation, call 1-800-ADOPTION.

When can a birth mother consent to adoption in Missouri?

48 hours or more after the baby is born.

When can a birth father give consent to adoption in Missouri?

At any point after the baby is born.

When can a woman withdraw consent to adoption in Missouri?

She can withdraw at any point until the court has approved her consent to adoption, which must take place within three business days.

Who has to consent to an adoption in Missouri?

Missouri requires that the mother as well as any other legally recognized parents give their consent to adoption. If the man who is presumed to be the father has filed with the putative father registry or acted to determine paternity within 15 days of the child’s birth, he must consent to the adoption as well.

If the child is 14 years of age or older, he or she must consent to the adoption as well unless the court deems the child mentally incapable of doing so.

Again, please remember that these laws are subject to change, and that this information should not be taken as legal advice. For more information about adoption laws in Missouri, call 1-800-ADOPTION, or request free information here





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