From the moment you decide to make adoption part of your story, your life changed. Learn more about adopting a child in Missouri and what the adoption process entails by continuing to read this article.
The adoption process in general is not usually described as an easy and pleasant experience. It is challenging to say the least. There are many details to consider and iron out.
In order to make the decision-making process smoother, it is best to have all the information beforehand so that you are making the most informed decision. Here you will find resources to help answer your questions about adopting a child in Missouri.
“He is mine in a way that he will never be hers, yet he is hers in a way that he will never be mine, and so together, we are motherhood.” –Desha Wood
What is Adoption?
Adoption is often thought of as an alternative way for couples or families to grow without biological reproduction. There are many reasons why a family chooses to adopt a child just like there are many reasons why a child is placed for adoption. What matters most is that the child’s best interest is at heart.
The definition of adoption is “a legal proceeding that creates a parent/child relation between persons not related by blood.” Once an adoption is complete, the adopted child is entitled to all privileges that would belong to a biological child of the adoptive parents, including the right to inherit.
Adoption is a permanent placement for a child into a loving, caring home and family. Adoption makes it so that it is as though the child has always been a part of the family.
One of the biggest choices about adoption is deciding which kind of adoption you want to pursue. There are three types: open, closed, and semi-open adoption.
Open adoption is exactly as it sounds. Open adoptions allow for communication between the adoptive parents and the biological parents. As a biological parent, you are allowed to see your child grow up through open adoption.
Communication with adoptive parents can begin even during pregnancy. The sooner you can establish a relationship with the adoptive parents, the better. Open communication can last as long as the adoptive child’s lifetime.
Research shows that open adoptions can help adoptive children establish stronger bonds between the parents and the child. When the adoptive child understands more about their background, heritage, and biological history, they develop a stronger sense of self, which can lead to a happier life.
A closed adoption offers no opportunity for communication between the adoptive parents and the birth parents. There is not an opportunity to meet the adoptive parents beforehand and the identity of the child that is legally adopted will not be provided.
Closed adoptions can be chosen for privacy reasons. Another reason could also be to hide the child’s identity for safety purposes. It is a private way for both the birth parents and the adoptive parents to live their lives while doing what is best for the child.
Knowing the benefits of open adoption, many birth parents and adoptive families are not choosing a closed adoption as frequently in recent times.
A semi-open adoption may be the best of both adoption types if the birth parent does not know which option to choose. With a semi-open adoption, birth parents can watch their child grow up through pictures provided by the adoptive parents to the adoption agency or an attorney.
There is no direct contact between the birth parents, adoptive parents, or the child after the adoption is complete. However, being able to see the child grow up and know the choice for adoption was best can make all the difference in the world to birth parents.
12 Facts about Adopting a Child in Missouri
In order to know if adoption is the right choice, birth parents must first understand the adoption process, requirements, and legalities. Being informed before making this life-changing decision is the best way to feel encouraged you are doing what is best for your child.
The following list comprises 12 things you should know about adopting a child in Missouri. Use this list as a guide to making an informed decision about adoption. Additionally, there are many adoption agencies in the state of Missouri that can help guide you and answer any other questions.
1. Who is eligible for adopting a child in Missouri?
In the state of Missouri, the following information are requirements for all persons seeking to adopt. Individuals must:
- Be at least 21 years of age or older;
- Be willing to participate in training and assessment procedures;
- Have a stable housing situation;
- Maintain an income that is stable;
- Meet licensing standards;
- Pass a child abuse/neglect check and criminal record check including fingerprinting;
- Be in good health mentally and physically;
- Have an acceptable space in your home for a child;
- Be willing to partner with the child’s family.
2. What is the first step to placing a child for adoption in Missouri?
The easiest way to learn about the first step of adoption in Missouri is to find an adoption agency in the area. There, they can walk you through what you can do to begin the process of placing your child for adoption.
You may also choose to contact The Gladney Center for Adoption, which has offices all around the country.
3. Who can place a child for adoption in Missouri?
The following people may place a child for adoption in Missouri:
- The child’s parents;
- A licensed child-placing agency;
- The Children’s Division of the Department of Social Services;
- An intermediary, which could include an attorney, physician, or clergy member.
4. Can birth parents change their minds during the process?
The birth mother’s written consent is not effective until the child is at least 48 hours old. Before then, a mother can revoke her consent if she has changed her mind.
Once an adoption is final, there is no revoking unless the consenting party can prove with evidence that their consent was not freely and voluntarily obtained.
5. Who must consent to the adoption?
Written consent must be provided by:
- The mother;
- The man presumed to be the father (however, they must have acted to establish paternity within 15 days of the birth of the child or has filed with the putative father registry);
- The adoptive parents;
- If the adoptive child is 14 years of age or older, they must also consent to adoption unless the court finds that the child lacks sufficient mental capacity.
Consent is not needed if parental rights have been terminated.
6. Is payment offered for placing a child for adoption in Missouri?
It is illegal in the state of Missouri or any state within the United States to be compensated for adoption. However, potential adoptive parents of a child may enter into an agreement through an agency to assist the birth mother in paying for prenatal care or any other prenatal procedures relevant to that child’s life.
7. What documents are needed to begin adopting a child in Missouri?
In addition to an application for adoption, the state of Missouri requires the following documents:
- Minimum of three reference letters (one employment-related reference, one related person, and one non-related personal reference);
- Child abuse/neglect background screening check that is no more than six months old;
- Criminal history check that is no more than six months old;
- Written medical reports for all adult members of the home no more than 12 months old.
Personal information that is also necessary for adoption includes a social history of each applicant:
- A description of the applicant family’s origin (family structure, values, current and past relationships, discipline methods, etc.);
- Education and employment history;
- A marital history and current relationship, if applicable;
- Interests and hobbies;
- Physical health history;
- Mental health history including psychiatric treatment and history of drugs and/or alcohol use;
- Emotional stability and maturity;
- Religious beliefs and practices;
- Applicant’s parenting background including motivation to adopt;
- Location and description of physical residence, including the type of community and school district available;
- Financial status and management.
8. What is a home study?
A home study is an assessment and investigation into the home and lives’ of the adoptive families. The purpose of a home study is to determine whether the potential adoptive parents are suitable for adding a child to their life.
A home study must be completed by one of the following:
- The Children’s Division of the Department of Social Services;
- A juvenile court officer;
- A licensed child-placing agency;
- Social worker;
- Professional counselor;
- A licensed psychologist who is associated with a licensed child-placing agency;
- Another suitable person appointed by the court.
During the home study, a family is assessed by using the following to conclude eligibility:
- Confidential interviews with the applicants and all members of the household (as age-appropriate);
- A visit to and walkthrough of the applicant’s physical residence, which includes a complete inspection;
- A minimum of at least two separate visits.
A home study must be completed within 90 days of the request of the investigation/assessment.
9. How do adoptive parents pass a home study?
Following the submission of an application, all required documents, background checks, and a home study, an adoptive parent will be notified of approval. Adoptive parents will not pass the home study if an applicant:
- Fails to comply with the laws and regulations;
- Makes any misleading or false statements to the department;
- Refuses to provide any of the required documentation;
- Fails or refuses to submit an investigation/assessment into their home and personal life;
- Refuses to provide financial resources to care for a child;
- Fails to provide a safe and sanitary home environment for a child.
10. What training is required of adoptive parents?
The state of Missouri participates in the Specialized Training, Assessment, Resources, Support and Skills (STARS) program. Adoptive parents must take and pass the assessment and training for this program.
In the program, adoptive parents will be prepared to:
- Protect and nurture foster and adoptive children;
- Meet children’s developmental needs and address developmental delays;
- Support relationships between children and their families;
- Connect children with safe, nurturing relationships intended to last a lifetime;
- Actively participate in a professional team.
This information was found on the state of Missouri’s Department of Social Services website.
Additional training is required for applicants. The additional classes will teach prospective adoptive families to:
- Understand how adoptive families are unique;
- Anticipate the effects of separation, loss, and grief in adoption;
- Understand the need to keep in touch with those who matter to the child;
- Understand attachment and its importance in adoption;
- Anticipate challenges and identify strategies for dealing with those challenges;
- Explore the lifelong commitment to a child that adoption requires.
11. Is there a follow-up visit after placement?
A post-placement visit is required. The person conducting the visit will report on the emotional, physical, and psychological status of the child.
12. How do I know if adopting a child in Missouri is right for me?
Even after all the research and information you’ve obtained, sometimes it still boils down to your emotions and how you feel about choosing to place your child for adoption. It is not an easy decision to make. However, making this decision with all the information in mind can help.
Adopting a child in Missouri is best completed with an adoption agency who can guide you and answer any other questions you may have. Adoption agencies specialize in the laws surrounding adoptions in their state. Therefore, they are the best resource for you to reach out to at any point during the adoption process.
Once you have made your decision to place your child for adoption, take comfort in knowing that adoptive parents must jump through many hoops to become an adoptive family. They are usually heavily researched and investigated before a child can be placed with them.
These requirements are put in place to protect the children. The child’s best interest is what is most important.
Samantha Flores is the mom journaling the comical chaos of motherhood on Her Journal. She is a first-time parent to an incredible little boy. Her little family (three humans + three furbabies) lives in Northern California. Life is very busy! Samantha holds her Master of Arts degree in Education. In addition, she obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology. She has many years of experience working in early childhood education as well as being a regulator of foster placement facilities such as foster homes, shelters, residential centers, group homes, and foster-to-adopt homes. Samantha’s mission is to provide helpful information to parents looking for answers to their parenting questions.