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Wisconsin Adoption Laws Every Family Should Know

Starting the Wisconsin adoption process is an exciting step for any growing family — but it can also be intimidating when you consider the complex legalities involved.

Hopeful parents who work with American Adoptions will have their own adoption specialist and attorney to guide them through each step of the process. You will work closely with these professionals to ensure your adoption is completed according to all applicable Wisconsin adoption laws.

However, you might also want to do some research on your own to familiarize yourself with important adoption laws in Wisconsin. This article provides some helpful information to get you started. Please remember, though, that nothing in this article should be taken as legal advice; you should always consult with your Wisconsin adoption attorney about your individual circumstances.

In the meantime, here are five important Wisconsin adoption laws to be aware of:

1. Wisconsin Adoption Requirements

First, every hopeful adoptive parent should make sure they are legally eligible to adopt in Wisconsin. Wisconsin statutes allow state residents to adopt as:

  • A married couple jointly

  • A stepparent

  • An unmarried adult

According to AdoptUSKids, minimum qualifications for foster and adoptive parents in Wisconsin include:

  • Being at least 21 years old

  • Having sufficient income to cover your financial needs

  • Having enough room for the child

  • Completing required training

  • Passing criminal background checks

You should always talk to your adoption professional for more information about the requirements you’ll need to meet to adopt in Wisconsin. Keep in mind that different adoption agencies have different requirements for hopeful adoptive families; you will need to meet the requirements of your individual adoption agency, as well.

To learn more about the laws to adopt in Wisconsin with American Adoptions, contact us today at 1-800-ADOPTION.

2. WI Adoption Laws on Consent

Before hopeful parents can adopt a child, the rights of that child’s birth parents must be legally terminated according to Wisconsin adoption laws. Your baby’s birth mother will be represented by her own adoption attorney, who will explain the process for her to legally give her consent for the adoption.

Here’s what you should know about the adoption consent laws in Wisconsin:

  • The birth mother can file a petition for voluntary termination of her parental rights after the birth of the child.

  • A hearing on the petition will be held within 30 days of filing.

  • The parent must appear at the hearing to give his or her consent to the adoption, or the court may accept written consent given before the proper official.

  • A birth father may consent to the adoption by signing a written, notarized statement.

Consent laws may vary based on your adoption situation. For example, if the child you are adopting has Native American heritage, his or her birth parents may need to meet additional requirements to consent to the adoption. Your adoption specialist will help you understand what to expect at the hospital and during the legal consent process.

3. Wisconsin Adoption Expense Laws

Wisconsin adoption laws regulate the expenses that can be paid by adoptive parents throughout the adoption process. In Wisconsin, adoptive parents are permitted to pay the following expenses for their prospective birth mother:

  • Pre- and post-adoption counseling services

  • Maternity clothes up to $300

  • Transportation related to the pregnancy and adoption

  • Medical and hospital care related to the pregnancy and birth

  • Medical and hospital care for the child

  • Legal services for the child and birth parents

  • Living expenses up to $5,000 if necessary to protect the health of the baby and birth mother

  • Birthing classes

  • A gift to the birth mother up to $100 in value

  • Services provided by an adoption agency

  • Home study investigation costs

Adoptive parents are required to provide the court with an accounting of expenses at the time of the adoption hearing. The report should include an itemized list of all payments made or agreed to be made in connection with the adoption. Your adoption attorney can provide more information about reporting adoption expenses to the court.

4. WI Adoption Laws on Advertising

Many hopeful adoptive parents don’t realize that there are Wisconsin adoption laws regulating the use of advertising in adoption. These laws will have an impact on the way you market your family to expectant mothers considering adoption.

Because adoption advertising laws, like all adoption laws, can be confusing, it’s best to consult with an adoption specialist or attorney before you begin searching for an adoption opportunity or advertising your intent to adopt a child.

5. Adoption Laws Regarding WI Birth Fathers

Of all the Wisconsin adoption laws, the laws regarding the rights of birth fathers in adoption are some of the most complex. Every birth father scenario is unique, and the way the birth father’s rights will be handled is determined on a case-by-case basis.

If the father of your baby is known and supportive of the adoption, your baby’s birth mother may choose to include him in her adoption plan. This means you may have the opportunity to meet him, receive information about him and his background, and continue a relationship with him after placement through open adoption.

On the other hand, if he is unknown, uninvolved or unsupportive of the adoption, he may need to take specific legal actions to establish and protect his parental rights for the baby. If he fails to do so, his consent and involvement may not be necessary for the adoption to proceed.

There are a number of individual factors that impact the rights an alleged birth father may have in the adoption process. Your adoption professionals will be able to better explain the birth father’s rights and role in your circumstances.

To learn more about these and other adoption laws in Wisconsin, request free information online or reach out to an adoption attorney in Wisconsin.  

Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. American Adoptions provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.

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