5 Montana Adoption Laws You Should Know
The adoption process can be complicated. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because something so important and sensitive has to be handled with care. There are many laws surrounding the adoption process and proper placement of a child with an adoptive family. Montana adoption laws are unique, just like every other state. Before you get started with your adoption in Montana, you’ll want to get a decent understanding of your local adoption laws.
Don’t worry — you don’t need a law degree to adopt. If you choose to work with American Adoptions, a qualified professional will guide you through each legal step and ensure you comply with all necessary laws. However, understanding some of the important laws can help the process feel less chaotic or confusing. This article shouldn’t be taken as legal advice, but it will hopefully be a helpful resource as you consider adoption in Montana.
These five Montana adoption laws are a good place to start.
1. Montana Adoption Requirements
Let’s start at the beginning. There are requirements in Montana adoption law you must meet in order to be eligible to adopt. You must:
Be over 18 years of age
Pass a criminal background check
Be married, single or legally separated from a spouse
Along with these basic requirements, an adoption social worker will review your medical and social history, as well as other factors that may be relevant to your adoption.
2. Adoption Consent in Montana
Each state has different laws dictating how consent may be given by a potential birth mother. It is vitally important that consent laws be followed accurately, as an improper consent can endanger a final decree of adoption.
According to adoption laws in Montana, consent must be given by the birth mother and any other person whose parental rights have been established by a court. In many cases, only the birth mother’s parental rights have been established, therefore only her consent is needed. However, there are cases where the birth father is involved and maintains his parental rights. The consent must be acknowledged by an officer authorized to take acknowledgments or witnessed by a representative of the judicial department, adoption agency or court.
Additionally, Montana requires a 72-hour waiting period after a child is born before a mother can give consent for adoption. During this time, the state will offer counseling services to the potential birth mother and inform her of all her options.
3. Montana Adoption Laws About Adoption Expenses
It is common in domestic infant adoption for the adoptive parents to cover some pregnancy and adoption-related expenses for the potential birth mother. This can be a point of anxiety for many adoptive families. Montana adoption law has specific regulations for adoption-related expenses. But before we get to that, you should know that American Adoptions has a financial protection program so that adoptive families can be confident their funds won’t be lost.
In Montana, adoptive families can cover expenses for the potential birth mother related to:
An adoption petition
Medical care or services
Counseling related to providing necessary information — up to 10 hours
Travel or temporary living costs
Legal fees — unless a birth mother selects joint representation
Other reasonable costs related to the adoption
The adoption laws in Montana specifically exclude fees covering:
Salary or wages
Montana’s adoption law does have strict language prohibiting anyone from charging excessive fees for adoption or demanding any form of payment on top of the allowable expenses. However, the law does not set a maximum amount of fees allowed within the bounds of the areas outlined above.
4. Laws on Adoption Advertising in Montana
“Advertising” in adoption refers specifically to finding an adoption opportunity for a birth mother, child or adoptive family. For instance, when American Adoptions presents a potential birth mother with a group of family profiles for her to select a family to adopt her child, this is considered “advertising” in adoption. Montana has specific laws about who can and can’t advertise.
Only the Montana Department of Child and Family Services or a licensed child-placing agency may advertise for adoption in the state. This is important to keep in mind as you choose an adoption professional to work with. A professional who is allowed to advertise is more likely to find the right adoption opportunity for you in a timely manner. Advertising by a professional not allowed by state law could jeopardize the entire adoption process.
5. The ICPC and Montana Adoption Law
Montana’s adoption law complies with the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Child (ICPC). The ICPC is a federal regulation that oversees adoptions where the adoptive family lives in a different state than the child is born in. ICPC provides a defined and transparent process for both the sending state (where the child is born) and the receiving state (where the family lives) to follow. When you go before a court for your adoption finalization hearing, one of the things the judge will review is whether or not ICPC was followed during the placement.
These are five major Montana adoption laws to know as you think about beginning your adoption process. You don’t have to be a lawyer — that’s your adoption attorney’s job. Hopefully you find it helpful to have a broad grasp on the adoption laws of Montana.
If you want to learn more about the adoption process with American Adoptions, you can always call 1-800-ADOPTION. We'll be happy to help you start your Montana adoption whenever you're ready.
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