Jackson, Mississippi Adoption Lawyer
Adoption is a legal process in Mississippi that establishes a parent/child relationship between two people who are not otherwise related by blood.
There are three sets of participants in an adoption:
- The petitioners (the adoptive parents, who are seeking to adopt the child);
- The child to be adopted; and
- The birth parents (the biological parents of the child to be adopted).
Not only does the adoption create a new legal relationship between the adopted parents and the child, but it also severs or terminates any legal relationship existing between the child and his or her biological parents.
Adoptions can be either “contested” or “uncontested.” Contested adoptions occur when a biological parent, or other relative(s), objects through the legal process to the adoption being granted by the court. An uncontested adoption occurs when there is no opposition to the adoption, either by the biological parent(s) or from anyone else. Adoption statutes vary from state to state, and there are also applicable federal adoption laws.
Uncontested adoptions commonly include:
A relative, such as a grandparent or aunt and uncle, may choose to adopt a child.
When a parent remarries due to divorce, the stepparent may choose to legally adopt the child if the other parent agrees to terminate his or her parental rights and it is in the best interest of the child. When a spouse dies, a stepparent may decide to adopt his or her stepchild(ren) in order to become the legal parent.
Occasionally, parents find it impossible to financially support their child or children. After considering other options, they may determine that placing their child for adoption is the most responsible course of action. More often, unwed parents find that they are unable to assume the responsibilities of parenthood and feel that adoption would be in the best interest of their child.
The uncontested adoption process is fairly straightforward and primarily requires the necessary paperwork. However, in order for an uncontested adoption to be completed, Mississippi law requires consent from the following persons:
- The biological parents, or parent, if only one parent, though either be under age 21
- If both parents are dead, then any two adult kin of the child within the third degree
- The guardian ad litem of an abandoned child
- Those persons having physical custody of the child, except persons having the child as foster parents as a result of placement by the Department of Human Services of the State of Mississippi
- The agent of the county Department of Human Services that has placed a child in foster care, either by agreement or by court order
- A child who is age 14 or older
Contested adoptions typically occur in instances of infant adoption, when one biological parent, typically the birth mother, intends to place an infant for adoption, while the other biological parent, typically the birth father, objects. When a biological father refuses to terminate his rights, all parties must attend a consent hearing in court.
In Mississippi, an adoption may be allowed over the objection of a parent – father or mother – where the parent:
- Has abused the child
- Has not consistently offered to provide reasonably necessary food, clothing, appropriate shelter, and treatment for the child
- Suffers from a medical or emotional illness, mental deficiency, behavior, or conduct disorder, severe physical disability, substance abuse, or chemical dependency that makes him or her unable or unwilling to provide an adequate permanent home for the child at the present time or in the reasonably near future based upon expert opinion or based upon an established pattern of behavior
- Has a history of past or present conduct, including criminal convictions, that viewed in its entirety, would pose a risk of substantial harm to the physical, mental, or emotional health of the child
- Has engaged in acts or omissions permitting termination of parental rights
If Considering Adoption, Contact an Attorney Experienced with Adoption
Adoption is a significant legal, financial, social, and emotional process for all the parties involved. If you are considering adoption – whether uncontested or contested – the expert advice of a family law attorney can be helpful. Contact the law offices of Maley & Nicholas to schedule a consultation.