Adoption in Maine
Maine is a place that calls out to those who want adventure, from its iconic lighthouses floating along sparkling bays to Portland’s cobblestone streets full of foodies. Maine offers Adopting Parents the opportunity to complete their families through adoption and helps Birth Mothers facing an unplanned pregnancy. Here, we offer you our informational guide to help you through your adoption journey.
Adopting a Baby in Maine
Before an adoption can take place, there are specific laws, rules and qualifications in Maine concerning who can adopt or how you can adopt. Laws, rules and qualifications will vary based on the type of adoption you choose to pursue. All Adopting Parents must meet these requirements to adopt in the state of Maine.
What are the Laws and Qualifications for Adopting a Child in Maine?
The following are eligible to adopt a child in Maine:
- Prospective parent must be at least 21 years old
- Prospective parent can be single or married
- Prospective parent must be a legal resident of Maine
- Prospective parents must be in good physical and mental health
- Prospective parents must be financially stable and have enough income to support a child
The Prospective Adoptive Parents home must:
- Home must be kept clean and maintained in a condition
insuring health and safety
- Adequate heating, lighting and ventilation
- Adequate living space for the family and child
- The home must have a working telephone
- Pass a safety inspection
What Adoption Expenses can be Paid by Adoptive families in Maine?
Individual states determine how much and what type of expenses are allowed to be paid to a prospective Birth Mother during her adoption process. Expenses related to adoption in Maine depend on the type of adoption you decide to pursue.
The following are adoption expenses that are permitted in Maine:
- Legal services
- Prenatal and postnatal counseling for the Birth Mother
- Medical expenses for the Birth Mother and child
- Transportation services in relation to the adoption
- Foster care expenses for the child
- Necessary living expenses for the Birth Mother and child
- Legal fees and counseling services for the Birth Father
- Agency fees
What are the Laws to become a Foster Parent in Maine?
The following are eligible to foster parent in Maine:
- Prospective parent must be at least 21 years old
- Prospective parent must be in good physical, emotional and mental health
- Prospective parent can provide three references from people who are not related to you
- Prospective parent can complete a criminal history background check
- Prospective parent can complete fingerprinting to allow the Department of Health and Human Services to submit required fingerprint-based
- Prospective parent can complete home visits with a social worker
- Prospective parent home can pass a state fire safety and protection inspection
- Prospective parent home meet state water standards
- Prospective parent must have a phone at their residence
What are the Requirements to Finalize an International Adoption in Maine?
If an adoption in a foreign country has been finalized and the adoptive parents are seeking a Maine adoption to give recognition to the foreign adoption, a judge may enter a decree of adoption based solely upon a judgment of adoption in a foreign country to finalize an international adoption in Maine. The judge may order a name change if requested by the adoptive parents.The State Registrar upon request, will establish a birth certificate for a foreign-born person for whom an adoption decree has been entered in State court.
Placing a Baby for Adoption in Maine
As a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy and starting the adoption process in the state of Maine, there are some important things for you to know. You must learn the laws, rules and qualifications of placing your baby for adoption.
When and How can Birth Parents Consent to the adoption?
An Adoptive Parent can make an adoption plan anytime during the Birth Mother’s pregnancy or after birth of the child. In the state of Maine, a Birth Parent can consent to placing the child for adoption after the child is born. Consent from the birth parents and the child, if they are at least 14 years old, must be given in the presence of a judge.
The following are the requirements to consent to the adoption:
- A licensed child-placing agency or the department must certify that counseling for the consenting parents was provided or offered and refused
- The court has explained the birth parent’s rights, the effect of the consent and surrender of their rights, and that they have the right to revoke their consent within 3 days
- At least 3 days have past since the birth parents gave their consent and they have not attempted to revoke them
- The court determines that the consent was given freely after being informed of all their rights
Who must Consent to the Adoption?
The following are eligible to give written consent to an adoption in Maine:
- Birth Parents
- The adoptee if they are at least 14 years old or older
- The person or agency having legal custody or guardianship of the child
- A guardian appointed by the court when the child has no living parent, guardian, or legal custodian who may consent
When is Consent not Needed?
Consent is not required from:
- A Putative Father, who is not the Birth Father, if he:
- Received notice of adoption proceedings and failed to respond in the given time frame
- Waived his right to consent
- Has no parental rights of the child under the laws of the foreign jurisdiction that the child was born
- A parent whose parental rights have been terminated
- A parent who has executed a surrender and release of the child
- A parent whose rights have been terminated and transferred to a licensed public or private agency
- A parent of an adoptee who is 18 years old
When does the Birth Parents’ Consent become Irrevocable?
Consent to adoption is not valid until three days after it is given in Maine. Consent is irrevocable after three days, unless the petition for adoption is withdrawn or dismissed, or the adoption is not finalized within 18 months of the consent.
What Rights do Birth Fathers have in the Adoption Process in Maine?
A man is presumed to be the child’s natural father, therefore granting him parental rights and a say in the adoption decision, if:
- The person and the woman giving birth to the child are married to each other and the child is born during the marriage
- The person and the woman giving birth to the child were married to each other and the child is born within 300 days after the marriage is terminated by , annulment, divorce, decree of separation, or declaration of invalidity
- Before the birth of the child, the person and the woman giving birth to the child married each other in apparent compliance with law, even if the attempted marriage is or could be declared invalid, and the child is born during the invalid marriage or within 300 days after its termination by death, annulment, divorce, separation, or declaration of invalidity
- The marital presumption applies to a legal relationship that provides substantially the same rights, benefits, and responsibilities as marriage and is recognized as valid in the state or jurisdiction in which you live in
- A person is presumed to be a parent of a child if the person resided in the same household with the child and openly held out the child as that person’s own from the time the child was born or adopted and for a period of at least 2 years thereafter and assumed personal, financial, or custodial responsibilities for the child
Home Study and Post-Placement Requirements in Maine
All adoptive parents in the state of Maine are required to complete a home study and a post-placement assessment after the adoption has taken place; regardless of the type of adoption you’re pursuing or the adoption professional you’re working with. Both will assess your ability to provide a nurturing and stable home to a child.
What is Included in the Maine Home Study Process?
In Maine, a home study will include, but is not limited to:
- A State and national criminal background check
- A child abuse and neglect check
- A medical statement from a licensed physician based on an examination within 6 months
- Three personal references who are not related to the applicant
- Financial statements
- Religious preferences
- At least one visit to the prospective parent home
- Individual interviews with the prospective parent, including any children in the family
The adoption study must contain an assessment of the applicants:
- The reason for choosing adoption
- Stability of the marriage of a couple (or the stability of the single applicant)
- Feelings about the adoption
- Disciplinary practices
- Lifestyle and acceptance in the community
- Feelings toward birth parents, including their race and color if different from the applicants’, and the background of the child
- Money management
- Relationship with extended family
- Education and employment
- Experience with children
- Methods and effectiveness of communication
- Physical, mental, and emotional health
Who is Included in the Home Study Process?
The court will request a background check for each prospective parent who is not the birth parent of the child in the home study process.
Who will Conduct the Home Study?
The Maine Department of Health and Human Services or a licensed child-placing agency will conduct the home study.
On what Grounds will the Home Study not be Approved in Maine?
The home study would not be approved if any adult resident in the home has committed any of the following:
- A Prospective Parent has been convicted of a child-related sexual offense
- Has been adjudicated of sexually abusing a minor
- The court find that the adoption is not in the best interest of the child
- There is a reputable presumption that the applicant would jeopardize the child’s safety
When should the Home Study be Completed?
The home study should be completed within 60 days of filing an adoption petition.
What are the Post-Placement Requirements for Maine Adoptions?
Before the adoption is finalized, the court will ask for a post placement assessment to take place to ensure that the adopting parents circumstances have not changed to no longer fit the child’s best interest. In Maine, the post placement period will last at least 6 months. The child and family shall be seen within 3 weeks of placement and at least within each 2 months until the probationary period is over. At least two of the visits shall be in the adoptive home and will include both parents, if applicable. The agency shall ensure that the applicants understand the importance of telling the child he or she is adopted and shall review with the applicants how that will be done.
By the end of the probationary period a decision must be made as to whether or not the agency will consent to the adoption. The decision shall be based on the following factors:
- The physical and emotional adjustment and development of the child
- The capacity of the adoptive parents to assume the role of parent with respect to the needs of the child
What are the Home Study Requirements for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions in Maine?
If the adopting parent is a blood relative of the child, the court may waive the requirement of a home study and report.
Maine Adoption Professionals
Maine is home to some amazing adoption agencies who are ready to help get you started on your journey. Whether it be adopting a child into your family, or finding resources to place your child up for adoption, these professionals are all willing and able to help you throughout this process.
Maine offers unique year-round activities for adopting parents and birth mother visiting or living in The Pine Tree State. Spend your day by the sea and venture inland for hiking, paddling, and fishing, or enjoy the vibrant city life in Portland!