Adoption can be the most fulfilling experience a person has in their lifetime. However, if you are unmarried and single, you may be wondering whether you are eligible to adopt a child. In Oregon, families are diverse, and you can adopt whether you are single, married, or in a domestic partnership. Applicants for adoption are not considered based on their marital status, but on their ability to provide a child with a safe, loving, and stable home. So, is single parent adoption allowed in Oregon?
Single parent adoption is becoming increasingly common. In Oregon, it is irrelevant whether you are married or single for purposes of adoption. If you are single and have made the decision to grow your family through adoption, the rewards are plentiful for both you and your child.
There are no requirements regarding lifestyle, income, education, or occupation to adopt. But there are still specific criteria that must be met. In order to adopt a child in Oregon, you must:
Oregon law also mandates that either the adoptive parent, the consenting birth parent, or the adoptive child must have lived in the state for a continuous period of six months or more prior to the adoption.
Additionally, a prospective adoptive parent may be required to participate in a home study conducted by a licensed and DHS-approved adoption agency, which you will discuss with your attorney during a consultation. There is no uniform format for a home study; it is meant to prepare a prospective family for adoption and ensure you are able to provide a suitable home environment for the child. Generally, a home study encompasses a series of interviews and discussions with social workers, as well as a home visit. You may also need to provide financial documentation, current medical information, and copies of documents such as a divorce decree or death certificate of a spouse, if applicable.
There are a few different ways that single parent adoption is possible in Oregon. Adoption can be through the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS), a private agency, or arrangements can be made directly with the birth parent.
In DHS adoptions, children are placed for adoption by the state, usually after being in the foster care system for a period of time. These children are usually older and have special needs. While the state often attempts to place the children with a relative following a termination of parental rights, a "current caretaker," has equal rights when it comes to an adoption placement decision.
Private adoption agencies are those which are licensed by the DHS and authorized to place children with adoptive parents. With private agency adoptions, the child's birth parent may or may not be involved in the process. Otherwise, a birth parent and an adoptive parent may make adoption arrangements independently without agency involvement.
If you are considering intercountry adoption, it's essential to understand that laws can vary depending on the country. While there are many countries in which single parents can apply for adoption, some impose restrictions regarding the child's age or gender. Single parents seeking to adopt a child from another country may also be required to provide more references than married couples.
Importantly, international adoptions must comply not only with Oregon state law but also U.S. immigration law, the law of the country the child comes from, and in many cases, The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. If the country from which you are adopting is part of the Hague Convention, the adoption must be carried out through a Hague-accredited agency. However, non-Hague Convention countries also usually require the adoption to go through a licensed agency.
In Oregon, various resources are available to adoptive parents, including single adoptive parents, to help ensure the child's needs are met. Significantly, adoption assistance is provided by the state and can help with the costs of raising a special needs child if eligibility criteria are met. In addition, both the DHS and many agencies offer pre-adoption training to address various issues that you may face as an adoptive parent and to help ease the child's transition.
Those who are eligible for adoption assistance may receive "medical only" assistance in the form of a medical card, "payment only" assistance in the form of a monthly cash subsidy, or both cash and medical assistance. A one-time non-recurring expense payment may also be available of up to $2,000 to help with the expenses associated with finalizing the adoption.
Whether you're single or married, if you are considering adopting a child, it's essential to have the guidance of a skilled adoption attorney who can guide you through the adoption process. Based in Salem, Litowich Law provides compassionate and knowledgeable counsel to single adoptive parents throughout Oregon. We welcome you to contact us for a consultation.