Stepparent adoptions are some of the most streamlined adoptions in the State of Minnesota. They do not require a home study, social and medical history, or the assistance of an adoption agency. There are, however, several steps to take and forms to file to complete the process. This blog article focuses on the logistical procedure of stepparent adoptions in Minnesota.
Where to File
Generally, stepparent adoptions must take place in the county where the stepparent resides. If the child to be adopted is currently under guardianship of the Commissioner of Human Services, the stepparent adoption must instead take place in the county where termination of parental rights proceedings takes place.
1. Consent of Parent to Adoption and Waiver of Notice of Adoption Hearing, or Order Terminating Parental Rights
A stepparent cannot petition to adopt a child until that child’s nonpetitioning, biological parent either consents to the adoption or has parental rights terminated by a Court. A nonpetitioning, biological parent can sign a consent form to allow the stepparent adoption to proceed. The consent must be notarized and witnessed by two adults. The nonpetitioning, biological parent can revoke his or her consent within 10 days of signing the consent.
2. Petition for Stepparent Adoption
This form is completed by the petitioning biological parent and stepparent who will be adopting the child. This form must be notarized.
3. Certified Copy of Child’s Birth Certificate
4. Search Results of Minnesota Father’s Adoption Registry
The Minnesota Legislature created the Minnesota Father’s Adoption Registry to allow possible, but not yet legal fathers to receive notice of pending adoption proceedings for their children. Search request forms are available from the Minnesota Department of Health.
5. Proposed Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, Order for Judgment, and Judgment and Decree of Adoption
Other Potentially Necessary Documents
1. Waiver of Post-Placement Assessment, Affidavit in Support of Post-Placement Assessment, Stepparent Adoption Affidavit Checklist, and Proposed Order Granting Motion to Waive Post-Placement Assessment
If the petitioning parent and stepparent are not utilizing an adoption agency to complete the adoption proceeding, the Court will refer the petition to the local social services agency to conduct a post-placement assessment. The petitioners would be responsible for the cost of this assessment. Petitioners in a stepparent adoption can ask the Court to waive the post-placement assessment by completing these forms. They must be notarized.
2. Motion to Waive One Year Residency Requirement, Affidavit in Support of Motion to Waive One Year Residency Requirement, and Proposed Order Granting Motion to Waive One Year Residency Requirement
The petitioning stepparent must have resided in Minnesota for at least one year prior to petitioning for the adoption. Upon request, the Court can reduce this residency requirement to 30 days if it is in the best interest of the child. These forms must be notarized.
3. Consent of Child if 14+
A child age 14 or older must provide written consent to the adoption. This consent must be notarized.
4. Communication and Contact Agreement
If all parties agree in writing and the Court approves, the non-petitioning parent can continue to have contact or communicate with the child. This agreement must be notarized.
File Documents and Appear in Court
The petitioning parent and stepparent should gather all documents to sign in front of a notary, and make copies to bring to the hearing. The originals must be filed with the Court. After filing all the necessary documents and paying the filing fee, petitioners can Court Administration to secure a hearing date. The Court will arrange to have the local social services agency conduct a background check on everyone living in the home who is 13 and older.
The petitioning parent and stepparent must attend the hearing, and bring the child to be adopted. The hearing is formal. The judge will review the Petition, ask questions, and issue a decision to grant or deny the adoption.
This blog provides general information and only and is not legal advice. You should consult an attorney in the event you are pursuing a stepparent adoption.