Getting Started with Adoption in Mississippi
Have you or a loved one ever considered adoption? Adoption can be a great opportunity to improve the life of a child in need while building and growing your happy family. And we at The Wade Law Firm, PLLC in Ridgeland, Mississippi are happy to help!
Like all Family Law issues in Mississippi, the rules and procedures for adopting a child are set out in the Mississippi Code; specifically, MS Code Title 19, Chapter 17. So, what are the basic first steps?
First, who can be adopted?
According to the law, anyone may be adopted, although adopting children over 14 years of age will require the child’s consent. Also, adoptions where the birth parents do not consent can quickly become more difficult and complicated.
Who can adopt?
Any adult over the age of 21 years old may adopt. This adult may be single or married. Further, in April, U.S. District Judge Daniel Jordan issued a preliminary injunction against a ban on adoptions by same-sex couples in Mississippi, describing the 16-year-old law as unconstitutional.
Where should you start?
Adoptions in Mississippi are handled by the Chancery Courts of the various counties. Which county has jurisdiction over the matter will depend on a number of considerations, including: the county in which the prospective adoptive parent(s) may live, where the child was born, or where the child currently lives. Once the proper court is identified, the court will have jurisdiction to oversee the adoption proceeding if one of these scenarios exists:
- The child has lived in Mississippi for at least six months.
- If the child is younger than six months old, but has lived in Mississippi since soon after his or her birth.
- The prospective adoptive parent(s) have lived in Mississippi for at least six months and there is substantial evidence concerning the child’s care in Mississippi.
- Both the prospective adoptive parent(s) and the child are in Mississippi, and the child has either been abandoned or needs to be adopted, in emergency, to protect the child from mistreatment, abuse, and neglect.
- No other state has more appropriate jurisdiction over the adoption than Mississippi.
Getting the ball rolling
Once the prospective parent(s) have identified the proper court, they will start the adoption journey by filing a petition with the court. With the proper documentation and absent any adverse findings by the State or opposition to the adoption by other interested parties, the judge may grant temporary child custody. After this six-month interim period, the judge may finalize a successful and unopposed adoption. In some cases, the judge may even grant the final adoption in a shorter period of time.
Adoption can be complicated
We’ve kept this blog relatively short and simple, but adoption is not always easy and includes numerous legal decisions. To serve the best interests of the child, many legal standards and important rules are included in the adoption process. In short, you’d be smart to hire an experienced Mississippi Family Law attorney.
If adoption is your future, get in touch with me, Attorney Vangela M. Wade at The Wade Law Firm in Central Mississippi. With more than 18 years of legal practice and knowledge of Mississippi Family Law, we’re committed to serving all of our clients with the utmost expertise, diligence, and care and are here to help you navigate through difficult legal matters.