Adoption Law Mississippi

ADOPTION LAW OF MISSISSIPPI

The adoption Law in Mississippi is governed by Chapter 93 of Mississippi Code of 1972 as amended from time to time.

Any person may be adopted in accordance with the provisions of this chapter in term time or in vacation by an unmarried adult or by a married person whose spouse joins in the petition.

REQUIREMENTS FOR ADOPTING A CHILD

  1. To file a petition for adoption the following, may be required
    1. The petitioner or petitioners must have resided in this state for ninety (90) days preceding the filing of the petition. However, if the petitioner or petitioners, or one of them, be related to the child within the third degree according to civil law, or the adoption is presented to the court by an adoption agency licensed by the State of Mississippi, said residence restriction is not applicable.
    2. A sworn petition needs to be filed in the Chancery Court of the county in which
      • the adopting petitioner or petitioners reside or
      • the child to be adopted resides or
      • the child to be adopted was born, or
      • the child to be adopted was found, or
      • in which the home is located to which the child shall have been surrendered by a person authorized to so do.
    3. The petition shall be accompanied by a doctor's or nurse practitioner's certificate showing the physical and mental condition of the child to be adopted.
    4. It shall also be accompanied by a sworn statement of all property, if any owned by the child.
    5. However the law prohibits the adoption by couples of the same gender.

ADOPTION PROCEEDING

A consent to the adoption proposed in the petition may be duly sworn to or acknowledged and executed only by the following persons, but not before three days after the birth of said child:

  1. the parents, or parent, if only one 'parent, though either be under the age of twenty-one (21) years; or,
  2. in the event both parents are dead, then any two (2) adult kin of the child within the third degree computed according to the civil law, provided that, if one of such kin is in possession of the child, he or she shall join in the petition or be made a party to the suit; or,
  3. the guardian ad litem of an abandoned child, upon petition showing that the names of the parents of such child are unknown after diligent search and inquiry by the petitioners.

In addition to the above, there shall be made parties to any proceeding to adopt a child, either by process or by the filing of a consent to the adoption proposed in the petition, the following:

  1. Those persons having physical custody of such child, except persons having such child as foster parents as a result of placement with them by the department of public welfare of the State of Mississippi.
  2. Any person to whom custody of such child may have been awarded by a court of competent jurisdiction of the State of Mississippi.
  3. The agent of the county department of public welfare of the State of Mississippi that has placed a child in foster care, either by agreement or by court order.

In the case of a child born out of wedlock, the father shall not be deemed to be a parent for the purpose of this chapter, and no reference shall be made to the illegitimacy of such child.

INVESTIGATION

At any time after the filing of the petition for adoption and completion of process thereon, and prior to the entering of a final decree, the court may in its discretion or of its own motion, or on motion of any party to said proceeding require an investigation and report to the court be made.

Such report may be made by an person, officer, or home as the court may designate. The Court may direct concerning the child, giving the material facts upon which the court may determine

  1. whether the child is a proper subject for adoption,
  2. whether the petitioners or petitioner are suitable parents for the child,
  3. whether the adoption is to its best interest, and
  4. any other facts or circumstances which may be material to the proposed adoption.

Upon filing of such investigation and report, if required by the court, and the presentation of such other evidence as may be desired by the court, if the court determines that it is to the best interests of the child that an interlocutory decree of adoption be entered, the court may thereupon enter an interlocutory decree upon such terms and conditions as may be determined by the court.

However, the complete care, custody and control of the child shall be vested in the petitioner or petitioners until further orders of the court and that during such time the child shall be and remain a ward of the court.

If the court determines by decree at any time during the pendency of the proceeding that it is not to the best interests of the child that the adoption proceed, the petitioners shall be entitled to at least five (5) days' notice upon their attorneys of record and a hearing with the right of appeal with the dismissal of the petition.

After the entry of the interlocutory decree and before entry of the final decree, the court may require such further and additional investigation and reports as it may deem proper. The rights of the parties filing the consent or served with process shall be subject to such decree but shall not be divested until entry of the final decree.

FINAL DECREE

A final decree of adoption is entered after the expiration of six (6) months from the entry of the interlocutory decree.

However the waiting period is not applicable in the following circumstances:

  1. when a child is a stepchild of a petitioner or is related by blood to the petitioner within the third degree according to the rules of the civil law or in any case in which the chancellor in the exercise of his discretion shall determine from all the proceedings and evidence in said cause that the six-month waiting period is not necessary or required for the benefit of the court, the petitioners or the child to be adopted, and shall so adjudicate in the decree entered in said cause, in either of which cases the final decree may be entered immediately without any delay and without an interlocutory decree, or
  2. when the child has resided in the home of any petitioner prior to the granting of the interlocutory decree, in which case the court may, in its discretion, shorten the waiting period by the length of time the child has thus resided.

The final decree unless otherwise specifically provided

  1. the child shall inherit from and through the adopting parents and shall likewise inherit from the other children of the adopting parents to the same extent and under the same conditions as provided for the inheritance between brothers and sisters of the full blood by the laws of descent and distribution of the State of Mississippi, and that the adopting parents and their other children shall inherit from the child, just as if such child had been born to the adopting parents in lawful wedlock;
  2. the child and the adopting parents and adoptive kindred are vested with all of the rights, powers, duties and obligations, respectively, as if such child had been born to the adopting parents in lawful wedlock.

FEES AND COSTS

In any child custody matter hereafter filed in any chancery or county court in which temporary or permanent custody has already been placed with a parent or guardian, the court shall impose a fee for any court-ordered home study performed by the Department of Human Services.

The fee shall be assessed upon either party or upon both parties in the court's discretion. The minimum fee imposed shall be not less than Three Hundred Fifty Dollars ($350.00) for each household on which a home study is performed. The fee shall be paid directly to the Mississippi Department of Human Services prior to the home study being conducted by the department.

All costs of the proceeding shall be taxed in the manner that the court may direct, including a reasonable fee as determined, approved, and allowed by the court to be paid for each investigation that may be authorized or required by the chancellor, other than for an investigation and report by a public authority or agency, in which event no such fee shall be allowed.

AGREEMENT WITH DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE

When parents are found and approved for adoption of a child certified as eligible for supplemental benefits, and before the final decree of adoption is issued, there shall be executed a written agreement between the family entering into the adoption and the state department of public welfare.

In individual cases, supplemental benefits may commence with the adoptive placement or at the appropriate time after the adoption decree and will vary with the needs of the child as well as the availability of other resources to meet the child's needs.

When supplemental benefits last for more than one (1) year, the adoptive parents shall present an annual written certification that the child remains under the parents' care and that the child's need for supplemental benefits continues.