Mississippi Adoption Laws: Covering the Basics
While adoption can be a joyful experience for the adopted child and the new parents, it is important to understand how the law affects the process. Because adoption laws can vary from state to state, here is a brief summary of the basics of adoption law in the state of Mississippi.
What Is Adoption?
Adoption is a judicial process during which the legal obligations and rights of a child toward its biological parents are terminated and the child is given rights and privileges, including that of inheritance, by the adoptive family.
Who May Adopt?
Any unmarried adult or husband and wife may jointly adopt. An unmarried adult regardless of sexual orientation may file for adoption, but couples of the same gender are prohibited from adopting.
Additionally, anyone filing for adoption in Mississippi must be a resident of the state for 90 days prior to his or her petition. This residency requirement, however, does not apply if the person seeking the adoption is related to the child within the third degree according to civil law or if it is presented to the court by an adoption agency licensed by the State of Mississippi.
Those looking to adopt must file a petition for adoption in the chancery court where they reside or where the child was born, abandoned or currently resides, including in a foster home or institution.
A doctor’s certificate also accompanies the request, and it states the child’s physical and mental condition, as well as lists all of the child’s property. Should the child have a physical or mental condition, the prospective parent(s) must include an affidavit that indicates their awareness of it.
Who Can Be Adopted?
According to state law, anyone can be adopted, but children who are ages 14 or older are required to give their consent.
Who Can Give Consent for Adoption?
If the child’s biological parents are living, both must provide consent if they are married. If the biological mother is unmarried, only her consent is required, but it is often suggested to get the father’s consent as well. If the child’s parents are deceased, two adult relatives can grant permission, or if the child’s parents are unknown, the child’s legal guardian. Anyone who has physical or legal custody of the child or the social worker who placed the child in foster care can also give consent, as well as the child, provided he or she is 14 years of age or older.
When Is Adoption Finalized?
Adoptive parents may receive temporary custody of the child for up to six months before the process is finalized. In other cases, the judge may grant a final decision right away. During this provisional phase, the judge may rule against the adoption, but the adoptive parents have the right to appeal.
Once finalized, a new birth certificate is issued from the Bureau of Vital Statistics with the child’s new name and the adoptive parents’ names. This information is confidential and cannot be released without a court order or the biological parent’s permission.
About Boyce Holleman & Associates
Since 1950, the attorneys at Boyce Holleman & Associates have handled numerous adoptions in the state of Mississippi. But their extensive legal expertise extends well into additional areas of family law, such as guardianships, wills and estates, divorces, child support and child custody. Because each case is handled with professionalism, discretion and skill, you can trust that even the most sensitive matters will be treated with the utmost respect and care. For expert support and compassionate advice, call Boyce Holleman & Associates at 228-863-3142 for assistance with adoptions or other family legal issues.