What to Know About Alaska Adoption Laws
Important Facts About Alaska’s Unique Adoption Laws
You’ve got a lot on your mind when you’re considering adoption — and even more on your mind when you’re in the adoption process.
There are so many things that can take up mental and emotional energy during the adoption process, and probably one of the last things you want to spend your time on is adoption law in Alaska. But an understanding of Alaska’s adoption laws will make your experience with the adoption process better.
You don’t need a complete understanding of law. In the adoption process, you will work with an adoption specialist and an adoption attorney who will guide you through the required legal steps. These professionals are there for you to rely on when things get hectic.
With that being said, understanding the important adoption laws in Alaska will make the process easier for several reasons. First, you won’t be blindsided by legal requirements or additional steps. Second, you’ll get the “why” behind the law. This will help you appreciate steps of the process that may seem tedious or overwhelming.
Each state has unique adoption requirements. Knowing what makes you eligible to adopt in Alaska is the place to start learning about Alaska adoption law. If you are already in the adoption process in Alaska, you have obviously passed this step. But if you are still considering whether or not adoption in Alaska is right for you, the requirements to adopt in Alaskan adoption law are:
- You must be at least 18 years old
- You may be married or unmarried
- You must pass a criminal background check
That’s all it takes to be eligible to adopt in Alaska. Several more stringent standards will be applied during the home study for adoption, but this come slightly later in the process. If you meet these basic requirements, you are eligible to adopt according to Alaska adoption law.
Any adoption may be subject to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) if it involves a child with Native American heritage. In Alaska, nearly 20 percent of the population is Native, making this much more likely for in-state adoptions. More than this, there are specific provisions in Alaska adoption laws that allow for adoptions conducted by Tribal law. These adoptions will vary on a case-by-case basis, as Tribal law can be very different than U.S. law. This is unique to Alaska adoption laws, and it is something you should ask your adoption attorney about.
The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) is a federal regulation that all states abide by. ICPC creates an accepted standard for adoptions that involve more than one state, which would apply to you if the child you are adopting will be born in a different state.
Most of ICPC takes place behind the scenes in paperwork that is sent back and forth between the states. This will be facilitated by your adoption attorney. What it means for you, most directly, is that you will need to plan on staying in the state where your child is born for about two weeks after birth. You cannot return to Alaska until all of the ICPC paperwork has been completed, which can take time.
Birth Mother Consent in Alaska Adoptions Laws
This may come as a surprise to some hopeful adoptive parents, but the prospective birth mother does not give official consent at the beginning of the adoption process. In all states, a potential birth mother cannot give consent to the adoption until after the child is born. In many states, there is even a waiting period after birth. However, there is no waiting period for birth mother consent in Alaska adoption law. This means that a prospective birth mother may give her consent to the adoption at any time after birth.
When you adopt, you will need to work with an adoption professional in nearly every case. The legal work required by the adoption process alone is enough to require professional assistance. Beyond that, there are many elements of the process that are too complex to handle alone.
There are several different types of professionals you could choose to work with. Broadly speaking, you can choose from these professionals:
Alaska adoption laws set state-level regulations and standards that these organization must adhere to. Some organizations, like a national adoption agency, will be much more regulated than others, like an adoption facilitator. When choosing a professional, make sure to work with an agency that is fully licensed. This is the best way to be sure your adoption will be completed in an ethical way that respects each person involved in the process.
Your adoption process doesn’t end when your baby is placed in your arms. After placement, there are a series of post-placement visits before your adoption finalization hearing. Alaska adoption laws don’t say much about post-placement visits, other than citing a specific focus on changes that could impact the child or family.
After post-placement visits have been completed, you will go to a local courthouse for your adoption finalization hearing.
There are plenty of other adoption laws in Alaska you are likely to encounter during your adoption process, but this is a good place to start. If you would like to learn more about adoption with our agency, you can call 1-800-ADOPTION at any time.
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