Adoption in Oregon
Authored By: Legal Aid Services of Oregon
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What is an adoption?
Adoption is a court order by which an adult who is not a child's natural parent becomes the legal parent of the child.
Can I have contact with a child after I give the child up for adoption?
It depends on the case. After an adoption, a natural parent usually does not have any rights concerning the child. But if the adoptive parents agreed in the court papers to allow the natural parent to have parenting time or other contact, the natural parent can go to court to seek a court order requiring the contact. But first, all the parents must try mediation. See Question 70 of the Family Law in Oregon booklet. If mediation doesn't work, a judge will decide whether to enforce the contact that had been agreed to, or to change the agreement because of exceptional circumstances. The natural parent can't stop or set aside the adoption if the adoptive parents do not allow the contact they agreed to give.
How can I adopt a child?
You will probably need a lawyer's help. For more information, contact the Child Welfare Program of the Department of Human Services (DHS) or an adoption agency.
Will I be investigated before I can adopt a child?
If you are adopting a step-child, DHS can investigate your home, but probably will not chose to do this. If you are adopting a child who is not your stepchild, DHS (or a private agency working with DHS) probably will investigate your home. There is a cost for the investigation. If you cannot pay the fee, you can request a waiver of the fee.
Can I adopt a child without the natural parents' consent?
You should talk to a lawyer. The consent of the natural parents is usually needed, but in some cases the judge can order an adoption without that consent. The most common case is when the parent has neglected or deserted the child for at least one year. But natural parents always have the right to have notice of the adoption suit, if they can be found, and to challenge whether the adoption should be granted without their consent. If the natural parent is low-income, he or she will have the right to a court-appointed attorney.
To adopt a child, is the natural father's consent required if paternity has not been established?
Most of the time, a father whose paternity has not been established does not have the right to be told about an adoption case or to have the chance to contest it. But if he has lived with or supported the child, or started his own paternity suit, a natural father may have the right to be given notice of the case and to be given a chance to challenge it. You should talk to an attorney. See the section on Paternity in this area of the LawHelp site.
Can my new spouse adopt my child from an earlier relationship?
Yes, if the child's other parent consents to the adoption.
In step-parent adoption cases, the grandparents (the mother and father of the other parent) must usually be served with (given) a copy of the adoption petition. They may be able to get a court order that gives them visitation rights after the adoption, if they have a relationship with the child and visitation rights won't interfere with the child and the adoptive family's relationship.
Can my child be adopted without my consent if I am the legal father?
No, not unless your rights as a parent were permanently ended by a judge before, or the judge now decides that your rights as a parent should be ended. You have a right to be notified if anyone is trying to adopt your child, if you can
be found, and the right to object to someone adopting your child. If you are low-income, you also have the right to a court-appointed attorney.
If the child is a Native American, are there any special adoption procedures?
Yes. A law called the Indian Child Welfare Act has special rules about adopting Native American children. You should talk to a lawyer who knows about this law.