Any person may be adopted.
Repealed or Renumbered
This chapter shall be liberally construed to the end that the best interests of adopted children are promoted. Due regard shall be given to the rights of all persons affected by a child's adoption.
A hard-to-place child in the permanent custody of the department in a foster home for not less than one year may not be denied the opportunity for a permanent home if the achievement of this depends on continued subsidy by the state.
After entering a final decree or order in an Indian child adoptive placement, the court shall send to the Secretary of the Interior a copy of the decree or order and other information required by 25 U.S.C. 1951 (sec. 301(a) of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978).
The department shall adopt regulations necessary to implement the provisions of AS 25.23.185 - 25.23.240.
A decree of court terminating the relationship of parent and child or establishing the relationship by adoption issued under due process of law by a court of any other jurisdiction within or outside of the United States shall be recognized in this state and the rights and obligations of the parties as to matters within the jurisdiction of this state shall be determined as though the decree were issued by a court of this state.
A final decree of adoption may not be issued until the minor to be adopted, other than a stepchild of the petitioner, has lived in the adoptive home and the department or any other qualified agency or person designated by the court has had an opportunity to observe or investigate the adoptive home. This observation or investigation is not required in proceedings where an investigation is not required under AS 25.23.100 (g) and (i).
(a) A consent to adoption may not be withdrawn after the entry of a decree of adoption.
(b) A consent to adoption may be withdrawn before the entry of a decree of adoption, within 10 days after the consent is given, by delivering written notice to the person obtaining the consent, or after the 10-day period, if the court finds, after notice and opportunity to be heard is afforded to petitioner, the person seeking the withdrawal, and the agency placing the child for adoption, that the withdrawal is in the best interest of the person to be adopted and the court orders the withdrawal.
The monthly payment and the length of time for which a subsidy for a hard-to-place child is granted are left to the discretion of the commissioner and may vary from a small monthly sum to an amount not exceeding the existing rate for foster care until the child reaches the age of majority, if the need continues to exist. Subsidies shall be paid from the same public funds and in the same manner as foster care payments. On request of the person caring for the child, the department shall review whether the amount of the subsidy is appropriate.
In the case of the adoption of a person born outside the United States, if requested by the adoptive parents, the court shall make findings, based on evidence from the petitioner and other reliable state or federal sources, on the date and place of birth and parentage of the adopted person. The findings shall be certified by the court and included with the report of adoption filed with the state registrar of vital statistics under AS 18.50.210 .
(a) If the person to be adopted is a minor under the age of 10 and the person is of sufficient age and intelligence to state desires concerning the adoption, the court shall consider the person's desires.
(b) The court may appoint a guardian ad litem or attorney, or both, under AS 25.24.310 for a minor who is to be adopted.
(c) The court may issue a protective order or other order that is in the best interest of a minor who is to be adopted.
(a) The presence of the petitioner and the person to be adopted is not required at the hearing on the petition unless ordered by the court.
(b) The court may continue the hearing from time to time to permit further observation, investigation, or consideration of any facts or circumstances affecting the granting of the petition.
(c) If at the conclusion of the hearing the court determines that the required consents have been obtained or excused and that the adoption is in the best interest of the person to be adopted, it may issue a final decree of adoption.
(d) If the requirements for a decree under (c) of this section have not been met, the court shall dismiss the petition and determine, in the best interests of the minor, the person including the petitioner to have custody of the minor.
Persons who are caring for a hard-to-place child on a foster parent basis and who have applied to adopt the hard-to-place child and to receive payments for the care and support of the hard-to-place child shall be evaluated as to their suitability as adoptive parents by means of an adoptive home study. Persons who are caring for a hard-to-place child in the state's custody and who wish to be appointed legal guardians of the child under AS 13.26.045 , and to receive payments for the care and support of the child, shall be evaluated as to their suitability as guardians by means of a guardianship study. A home study or guardianship study shall be made by the commissioner's adoption staff or on the commissioner's behalf by an authorized agency or individual that provides adoption services.
(a) Proceedings for adoption shall be brought in the superior court for the district in which, at the time of filing or granting the petition, the petitioner or the person to be adopted resides or is in military service, or in which the agency having the care, custody, or control of the minor is located.
(b) If the court finds in the interest of substantial justice, under AS 22.10.040 , that the adoption proceeding should be heard in another judicial district, the court may transfer, stay, or dismiss the proceeding in whole or in part on conditions that are just.
(c) Proceedings for the termination of parental rights on the grounds set out in AS 25.23.180 (c)(3) shall be brought in the superior court for the district in which the child that is the subject of the action resides.
Within 30 days after an adoption decree becomes final, the clerk of the court shall, if requested by the adoptive parents, prepare an application for a birth certificate in the name of the adopted person. Upon issuing a decree terminating parental rights on grounds set out in AS 25.23.180 (c)(3) the court may order the preparation of an application for a birth certificate in the name of the child without reference to the parent whose parental rights have been terminated. The clerk of the court shall forward the application
(1) for a person born in the United States, to the appropriate vital statistics office of the place, if known, where the adopted person was born and a copy of the decree to the department for statistical purposes; and
(2) for a person born outside the United States to the state registrar of vital statistics.
(a) The following persons may adopt:
(1) a husband and wife together;
(2) an unmarried adult;
(3) the unmarried father or mother of the person to be adopted;
(4) a married person without the other spouse joining as a petitioner, if the person to be adopted is not the other spouse, and if
(A) the other spouse is a parent of the person to be adopted and consents to the adoption;
(B) the petitioner and the other spouse are legally separated; or
(C) the failure of the other spouse to join in the petition or to agree to the adoption is excused by the court by reason of prolonged unexplained absence, unavailability, incapacity, or circumstances constituting an unreasonable withholding of consent.
(b) Nothing in this section affects legitimation under AS 25.20.050 .
(a) Except as specified in (b) of this section, the petitioner in any proceeding for the adoption of a minor shall file, before the petition is heard, a full accounting report in a manner acceptable to the court of all disbursements of anything of value made or agreed to be made by or on behalf of the petitioner in connection with the adoption. The report must show any expenses incurred in connection with
(1) the birth of the minor;
(2) placement of the minor with petitioner;
(3) medical or hospital care received by the mother or by the minor during the mother's prenatal care and confinement; and
(4) services relating to the adoption or to the placement of the minor for adoption that were received by or on behalf of the petitioner, either natural parent of the minor, or any other person.
(b) This section does not apply to an adoption by a stepparent whose spouse is a natural or adoptive parent of the child.
(c) A report made under this section shall be signed and verified by the petitioner.
(a) An appeal from any final order or decree rendered under this chapter may be taken in the manner and time provided for appeal from a judgment in a civil action.
(b) Subject to the disposition of an appeal, upon the expiration of one year after an adoption decree is issued, the decree may not be questioned by any person including the petitioner, in any manner upon any ground, including fraud, misrepresentation, failure to give any required notice, or lack of jurisdiction of the parties or of the subject matter, unless, in the case of the adoption of a minor the petitioner has not taken custody of the minor, or, in the case of the adoption of an adult, the adult had no knowledge of the decree within the one-year period.
(c) Subject to the disposition of an appeal, one year after a decree is issued terminating parental rights on grounds set out in AS 25.23.180(c)(3), the order may not be challenged on any ground, including fraud, misrepresentation, failure to give notice, or lack of jurisdiction of the parties or of the subject matter.
(a) Unless consent is not required under AS 25.23.050 , a petition to adopt a minor may be granted only if written consent to a particular adoption has been executed by
(1) the mother of the minor;
(2) the father of the minor, if the father was married to the mother at the time the minor was conceived or at any time after conception, the minor is the father's child by adoption, or the father has otherwise legitimated the minor under the laws of the state;
(3) any person lawfully entitled to custody of the minor or empowered to consent;
(4) the court having jurisdiction to determine custody of the minor, if the legal guardian or custodian of the person of the minor is not empowered to consent to the adoption;
(5) the minor, if 10 years of age or older, unless the court in the best interest of the minor dispenses with the minor's consent; and
(6) the spouse of the minor to be adopted.
(b) A petition to adopt an adult may be granted only if written consent to adoption has been executed by the adult and the adult's spouse or by the guardian or conservator of an incapacitated adult.
(a) At the time a petition for adoption is filed with the court, the agency or individual placing the person for adoption, or the petitioner, shall file with the court, for release to the state registrar of vital statistics, the following information, or an explanation of its unavailability, on forms provided by the department:
(1) the address of each parent named on the original birth certificate; and
(2) background information required under AS 18.50.510 .
(b) Upon entry of a decree of adoption, the clerk of the court shall transmit to the Bureau of Vital Statistics the information provided under (a) of this section. The bureau shall attach the information to the original birth certificate of the adopted person.
(c) A child adoption agency licensed under AS 47.35 shall maintain records of the information required to be furnished to the court under this section or under regulations of the commissioner implementing this section. If a child adoption agency ceases to place persons for adoption, it shall transfer its records to the commissioner.
(a) The caption of a petition for adoption shall be styled substantially 'In the Matter of the Adoption of . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .'. The person to be adopted shall be designated in the caption under the name by which the person is to be known if the petition is granted. If the child is placed for adoption by an agency, any name by which the child was previously known may not be disclosed in the petition or in the decree of adoption.
(b) A petition for adoption shall be signed and verified by the petitioner, filed with the clerk of the court, and state
(1) the date and place of birth of the person to be adopted, if known;
(2) the name to be used for the person to be adopted;
(3) the date of placement of the minor and the name of the person placing the minor;
(4) the full name, age, place and duration of residence of the petitioner;
(5) the marital status of the petitioner, including the date and place of marriage, if married;
(6) that the petitioner has facilities and resources, including those available under a hard-to-place child subsidy agreement, suitable to provide for the nurture and care of the minor to be adopted, and that it is the desire of the petitioner to establish the relationship of parent and child with the person to be adopted;
(7) a description and estimate of value of any property of the person to be adopted; and
(8) the name of any person whose consent to the adoption is required, but who has not consented, and facts or circumstances that excuse the lack of the consent normally required to the adoption.
(c) A certified copy of the birth certificate or verification of the birth record of the person to be adopted, if available, the information specified in AS 25.23.185 (a), if available, and the required consents, relinquishments, and termination orders shall be filed with the clerk.
In this chapter, unless the context otherwise requires,
(1) 'adult' means an individual who has reached the age of majority;
(2) 'agency' means any person certified, licensed, or otherwise specially empowered by law or regulation to place minors for adoption;
(3) 'child' means a son or daughter, whether by birth or by adoption;
(4) 'commissioner' means the commissioner of health and social services;
(5) 'court' means the superior court of this state, and, when the context requires, the court of another state empowered to grant petitions for adoption or guardianship or to terminate parental rights;
(6) 'department' means the Department of Health and Social Services;
(7) 'hard-to-place child' means a minor who is not likely to be adopted or to obtain a guardian by reason of physical or mental disability, emotional disturbance, recognized high risk of physical or mental disease, age, membership in a sibling group, racial or ethnic factors, or any combination of these conditions;
(8) 'minor' means a person who has not reached the age of majority;
(9) 'sexual abuse of a minor' means a sexual offense defined in AS 11.41.434, 11.41.436, 11.41.438, or 11.41.440;
(10) 'sexual assault' means a sexual offense defined in AS 11.41.410 or 11.41.420;
(11) 'stepparent' means the spouse of a natural parent of the child residing in the same household.
(a) The required consent to adoption shall be executed at any time after the birth of the child in the presence of the court or in the presence of a person authorized to take acknowledgments. The consent is not valid unless the consent form states that the person consenting to the adoption has the right to withdraw that consent as provided in AS 25.23.070 (b), and unless the person consenting to the adoption acknowledges receipt of a copy of the consent form. The person giving consent shall state in the consent form whether the child is a member of an Indian tribe or the biological child of a member of an Indian tribe, so that the court may determine whether the provisions of 25 U.S.C. 1901 - 1963 (Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978) apply.
(b) A consent that does not name or otherwise identify the adopting parent is valid if the consent is executed in the presence of the court or a person authorized to take acknowledgments and contains a statement by the person whose consent it is that the person consenting voluntarily executed the consent irrespective of disclosure of the name or other identification of the adopting parent.
(c) A consent executed under this section is effective as a power of attorney under AS 13.26.020 . Unless the consent form provides otherwise, and regardless of whether the form names or identifies the adoptive parent, the consent delegates to the adoptive parent all powers that may be delegated under AS 13.26.020 . The power of attorney takes effect when the child is delivered to the adoptive parent, and remains in effect as long as the consent is in effect; but the power of attorney is not effective beyond one year, unless the court extends it for good cause. The power of attorney does not terminate on the death or disability of the person executing the consent, unless the consent form so states. This subsection may not be construed to alter the requirements of AS 47.70 (the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children).
(a) Consent to adoption is not required of
(1) for purposes of this section, a parent who has abandoned a child for a period of at least six months;
(2) a parent of a child in the custody of another, if the parent for a period of at least one year has failed significantly without justifiable cause, including but not limited to indigency,
(A) to communicate meaningfully with the child, or
(B) to provide for the care and support of the child as required by law or judicial decree;
(3) the father of a minor if the father's consent is not required by AS 25.23.040 (a)(2);
(4) a parent who has relinquished the right to consent under AS 25.23.180;
(5) a parent whose parental rights have been terminated by order of the court under AS 25.23.180 (c)(3) or AS 47.10.080 (c)(3);
(6) a parent judicially declared incompetent or mentally defective if the court dispenses with the parent's consent;
(7) a parent of the person to be adopted, if the person is 19 or more years of age, and the court dispenses with the consent of the parent;
(8) a guardian or custodian specified in AS 25.23.040 (a)(3) or (4) who has failed to respond in writing to a request for consent for a period of 60 days or who, after examination of the guardian's or custodian's written reasons for withholding consent, is found by the court to be withholding consent unreasonably; or
(9) the spouse of the person to be adopted, if the requirement of consent to the adoption is waived by the court by reason of prolonged unexplained absence, unavailability, incapacity, or circumstances constituting an unreasonable withholding of consent.
(b) Except as provided in AS 25.23.100 , notice of a hearing on a petition for adoption need not be given to a person whose consent is not required or to a person whose consent or relinquishment has been filed with the petition.
(a) All hearings held in proceedings under this chapter shall be held in closed court without admittance of any person other than essential officers of the court, the parties, their witnesses, counsel, persons who have not previously consented to the adoption but are required to consent, and representatives of the agencies present to perform their official duties.
(b) The papers and records relating to an adoption or a termination of parental rights under AS 25.23.180 (c)(3) that are a part of the permanent record of a court are subject to inspection only upon consent of the court. The papers and records relating to an adoption or a termination of parental rights under AS 25.23.180 (c)(3) on file with the department, an agency, or an individual are subject to inspection only with consent of all interested persons or by order of a court for good cause shown. Except as provided in this section, adoption records of the Bureau of Vital Statistics are subject to inspection under the provisions of AS 18.50.
(c) Except as otherwise provided by law, or as authorized in writing by the adopted child, if 14 or more years of age, or by the adoptive parent, or upon order of the court for good cause shown, a person may not disclose the identity or address of an adoptive parent, an adopted child, a child who is the subject of a proceeding under AS 25.23.180(c)(3), or a biological parent whose parental rights have been terminated on grounds set out in AS 25.23.180 (c)(3).
(d) The court may order the disclosure of a natural parent's identity or address only if
(1) the court makes an express finding that the disclosure is required because of a medical necessity or other extraordinary circumstance; and
(2) the natural parent unless the parent's parental rights have been terminated on grounds set out in AS 25.23.180 (c)(3), the child, and the adoptive parents are afforded proper notice and a hearing; the court may waive the hearing and notice requirement if it finds there is a medical necessity that poses an immediate risk to life.
(a) A final decree of adoption, whether issued by a court of this state or of any other state, has the following effect as to matters within the jurisdiction or before a court of this state:
(1) except with respect to a spouse of the petitioner and relatives of the spouse, to relieve the natural parents of the adopted person of all parental rights and responsibilities, and, except as provided in (c) of this section, to terminate all legal relationships between the adopted person and the natural parents and other relatives of the adopted person, so that the adopted person thereafter is a stranger to the former relatives for all purposes including inheritance, unless the decree of adoption specifically provides for continuation of inheritance rights, and the interpretation or construction of documents, statutes, and instruments, whether executed before or after the adoption is decreed, that do not expressly include the person by name or by some designation not based on a parent and child or blood relationship; and
(2) to create the relationship of parent and child between petitioner and the adopted person, as if the adopted person were a legitimate blood descendant of the petitioner, for all purposes including inheritance and applicability of statutes, documents, and instruments, whether executed before or after the adoption is decreed, that do not expressly exclude an adopted person from their operation or effect.
(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of (a) of this section, if a parent of a child dies without the relationship of parent and child having been previously terminated and a spouse of the living parent thereafter adopts the child, the child's right of inheritance from or through the deceased parent is unaffected by the adoption.
(c) Nothing in this chapter prohibits an adoption that allows visitation between the adopted person and that person's natural parents or other relatives.
(d) Except as provided in (e) of this section, a decree terminating parental rights on the grounds set out in AS 25.23.180 (c)(3) voids all legal relationships between the child and the biological parent so that the child is a stranger to the biological parent and to relatives of the biological parent for all purposes, including interpretation of documents executed before or after the termination of parental rights that do not include the child by name or by a description not based on a parental or blood relationship.
(e) Inheritance rights between a child and a biological parent are not voided by a decree terminating parental rights on the grounds set out in AS 25.23.180 (c)(3) unless the decree specifically provides for the termination of inheritance rights.
(a) After the filing of a petition to adopt a minor, the court shall fix a time and place for hearing the petition. At least 20 days before the date of hearing, the petitioner shall give notice of the filing of the petition and of the time and place of hearing to (1) the department, unless the adoption is by a stepparent of the child; (2) any agency or person whose consent to the adoption is required by this chapter, but who has not consented; and (3) a person whose consent is dispensed with upon any ground mentioned in AS 25.23.050 (a)(1), (2), (3), (6), (7), (8) and (9), but who has not consented. The notice to the department shall be accompanied by a copy of the petition.
(b) Notice to persons specified in AS 25.23.050 must include a statement of the grounds under which consent to the adoption is not required. Notice given under this section shall be adequate to give actual notice of the proceedings, taking into account education and language differences that are known or reasonably ascertainable by the petitioner or the department. The notice of hearing must contain all names by which the minor has been identified and must state in summary form the effect of a decree of adoption. Notice shall be given in the manner appropriate under rules of civil procedure for the service of process in a civil action in this state or in any manner the court by order directs. Notice by publication may not be given unless, for compelling reasons, the court orders it to be given under the procedure established in Rule 4 of the Alaska Rules of Civil Procedure. Proof of the giving of the notice shall be filed with the court before the petition is heard, subject to the time limitations in (e) of this section.
(c) A reasonable investigation shall be made by the department or the petitioner to assure that all persons listed in (a) of this section are located and given notice of the proposed adoption. The investigation shall be conducted so that the rights of all parties are protected, including but not limited to the right to privacy and the right to be notified. An affidavit describing the investigation shall be filed with the court if all persons listed in (a) of this section are not located.
(d) Except as provided in (g) and (i) of this section, an investigation shall be made by the department or any other qualified agency or person designated by the court to inquire into the conditions and antecedents of a minor sought to be adopted and of the petitioner for the purpose of ascertaining whether the adoptive home is a suitable home for the minor and whether the proposed adoption is in the best interest of the minor.
(e) A written report of the investigation shall be filed with the court by the investigator before the petition is heard so long as the report is filed within 30 days of the designation by the court of the department, agency or person to make the investigation.
(f) The report of the investigation must contain an evaluation of the placement with a recommendation as to the granting of the petition for adoption and any other information the court requires regarding the petitioner or the minor.
(g) Unless directed by the court, an investigation and report is not required in cases in which an agency is a party or joins in the petition for adoption, a stepparent is the petitioner, the person to be adopted is within the fourth degree of lineal or collateral consanguinity to the petitioner, or the person to be adopted is an adult. In other cases, the court may waive the investigation only if it appears that waiver is in the best interest of the minor and that the adoptive home and the minor are suited to each other. The department which is required to consent to the adoption may give consent without making the investigation.
(h) The department or the agency or persons designated by the court to make the required investigation may request other departments or agencies within or outside of this state to make investigations of designated portions of the inquiry as may be appropriate and to make a written report as a supplemental report to the court and shall make similar investigations and reports on behalf of other agencies or persons designated by the courts of this state or another state.
(i) After the filing of a petition to adopt an adult the court by order shall direct that a copy of the petition and a notice of the time and place of the hearing be given to any person whose consent to the adoption is required, but who has not consented. The court may order an appropriate investigation to assist it in determining whether the adoption is in the best interest of the persons involved.
(j) [Repealed, Sec. 22 ch 140 SLA 1986].
(a) The rights of a parent with reference to a child, including parental right to control the child or to withhold consent to an adoption, may be relinquished and the relationship of parent and child terminated in or before an adoption proceeding as provided in this section.
(b) All rights of a parent with reference to a child, including the right to receive notice of a hearing on a petition for adoption, may be relinquished and the relationship of parent and child terminated by a writing, signed by the parent, regardless of the age of the parent, a copy of which shall be given to the parent,
(1) in the presence of a representative of an agency taking custody of the child, whether the agency is within or outside of the state or in the presence and with the approval of a court within or outside of this state in which the minor was present or in which the parent resided at the time it was signed, which relinquishment may be withdrawn within 10 days after it is signed or the child is born, whichever is later; and the relinquishment is invalid unless it states that the parent has this right of withdrawal; or
(2) in any other situation if the petitioner has had custody of the minor for two years, but only if notice of the adoption proceeding has been given to the parent and the court finds, after considering the circumstances of the relinquishment and the long continued custody by the petitioner, that the best interest of the child requires the granting of adoption.
(c) The relationship of parent and child may be terminated by a court order issued in connection with a proceeding under this chapter or a proceeding under AS 47.10 on the grounds
(1) specified in AS 47.10.080 (o) or 47.10.088;
(2) that a parent who does not have custody is unreasonably withholding consent to adoption, contrary to the best interest of the minor child; or
(3) that the parent committed an act constituting sexual assault or sexual abuse of a minor under the laws of this state or a comparable offense under the laws of the state where the act occurred that resulted in conception of the child and that termination of the parental rights of the biological parent is in the best interests of the child.
(d) For the purpose of an adoption proceeding under this chapter, a decree issued by a court of competent jurisdiction in this or another state terminating all rights of a parent with reference to a child or the relationship of parent and child dispenses with the required
(1) consent by that parent to an adoption of that child; and
(2) notice of a proceeding to that parent unless otherwise required by this section.
(e) A petition for termination of the relationship of parent and child made in connection with an adoption proceeding or in an independent proceeding for the termination of parental rights on grounds set out in (c)(3) of this section may be made by
(1) either parent if termination of the relationship is sought with respect to the other parent;
(2) the petitioner for adoption, the guardian of the person, the legal custodian of the child, or the individual standing in parental relationship to the child;
(3) an agency; or
(4) another person having a legitimate interest in the matter.
(f) Before the petition is heard, notice of the hearing on the petition and opportunity to be heard shall be given the parents of the child, the guardian of the person of the child, the person having legal custody of the child, and, in the discretion of the court, a person appointed to represent any party.
(g) Notwithstanding the provisions of (b) of this section, a relinquishment of parental rights with respect to a child, executed under this section, may be withdrawn by the parent, and a decree of a court terminating the parent and child relationship on grounds set out in (c)(1) and (2) of this section may be vacated by the court upon motion of the parent, if the child is not on placement for adoption and the person having custody of the child consents in writing to the withdrawal or vacation of the decree.
(h) The respondent to a petition filed for the termination of parental rights on grounds set out in (c)(3) of this section is entitled to representation in the proceedings by an attorney. If the respondent is financially unable to employ an attorney, the court shall appoint the office of public advocacy to represent the respondent in the proceedings.
(i) Proceedings for the termination of parental rights on the grounds set out in (c)(3) of this section do not affect the rights of a victim of sexual abuse of a minor or incest to obtain legal and equitable civil remedies for all injuries and damages arising out of the perpetrator's conduct.