Is Adoption Without Parental Consent Possible in Oregon?
July 10th, 2023
Adoption can be a wonderful way to grow your family — and in most instances, the legal process goes smoothly. However, the finalization of an adoption severs the child’s legal ties with their natural parent (or parents). This is why the law generally requires that a biological parent be notified of the adoption and consent to it. But it’s important to be aware that under certain circumstances, a judge may order an adoption without parental consent.
When is Adoption Without Parental Consent Allowed in Oregon?Although the consent of a child’s biological parents is usually needed, a judge can order an adoption without parental consent in certain cases. For example, parental consent may not be needed in cases where:
- A parent’s rights have been terminated due to abuse or neglect
- The biological parent abandoned the child
- Paternity was not established (if the biological father is the party whose consent is required)
- The parent has been adjudged to have a mental illness or intellectual disability and the court finds adoption is in the child’s best interests
- The parent has been imprisoned and is serving a term of three or more years
Can a Stepparent Adopt without the Biological Father’s Consent?In the event a stepparent wishes to adopt their stepchild, they must have been a resident of Oregon for six months or more and both of the child’s biological parents must agree to the adoption. However, the required consent of both parents can be waived if the biological parent abandoned the child for 12 months or more. One of the legal requirements for a stepparent adoption is serving a copy of the adoption petition on the child’s grandparents — the parents of their biological parent. They may be able to obtain a court order that permits them to have visitation rights after the adoption has been completed. This can usually be done if the grandparents have an emotional bond with the child and visitation won’t impede the child’s relationship with their adoptive family. For birth parents who must agree to the adoption, they must also be provided with written notice that they have the right to participate in adoption-related counseling before the adoption has been finalized. If paternity was not established, the biological father is not the child’s “legal father.” In such cases, the law does not require that the biological father be notified of the adoption proceedings or be given the opportunity to contest it.
What Happens if a Biological Parent Will Not Consent to the Adoption?If a biological parent consents, the adoption can move forward more easily. But if a biological parent will not agree to the adoption, the legal process can become complex and involve a contested court proceeding. A positive paternity test and paperwork relinquishing the biological father’s parental rights can help to avoid potential complications in the case. A stepparent adoption can also become much more difficult if a biological parent refuses to terminate their parental rights. In these situations, there may be a home study conducted by a social worker — unless the Department of Human Services waives this requirement. The stepparent will also be required to undergo a nationwide background check that identifies whether they have a criminal history or any previous involvement with child protective services in any state. It’s vital to inform your attorney if there may be something that comes up in your background check before spending the time and resources on the adoption only to find that you are ineligible to adopt.
At What Age Can You Be Adopted Without Parental Consent?Oregon law recognizes adult adoptions for individuals over the age of 18 or who are 17 and legally married. If the person being adopted has reached the age of majority, consent of the birth parents is not required. While the process for adult adoption is similar to adoption involving a minor, the only consent that is necessary in adult adoption cases is that of the person who is being adopted — and the individual adopting them.
Contact an Experienced Oregon Adoption AttorneyIf you’re considering adopting a child, it’s important to have a knowledgeable adoption attorney by your side to help you navigate the legal process. Based in Salem, Litowich Law works with families throughout Oregon for a variety of adoption matters, including adoption without parental consent. Providing reliable representation and skillful counsel, we welcome you to contact us for a consultation to learn how we can assist you.