What You Need to Know About Adoption in Mississippi
Thanks for paddling through all the divorce and other yucky stuff to land on the page devoted to adoption. While adoption is our favorite thing to do, the ugly stuff is how we are able to fund it. It also makes us uniquely qualified to handle adoptions with especially challenging legal components. While the social work associated with the unnatural choice or necessity of a biological parent having another, raising a child is always difficult, the legal work is often very form driven. However, when a complicated termination of parental rights is at issue, litigators hardened by the rigors of divorce and child custody are often more well equipped for a battle.
Any lawyer who has spent time in chancery court in Mississippi will tell you judges love to hear adoptions, it is one of the few happy things they get to do. However, they also recognize the right of a person to parent their biological child if they are capable and willing. Regardless the circumstances, there is just something magical and spiritual when everything comes together and a child is accepted by a family as one of their own facilitated by the loving choice of wise parents who know there is something better for their child if they let go. We are so passionate about adoption, unlike the divorces we do, we are willing to work with just about any budget if we think we can help.
"Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love." Mother Teresa
In its simplest respect, adoption is the legal process through which a new parent-child relationship is created. But as you already know, while it sounds easy enough, if you are contemplating or have accomplished any type of adoption journey, the regulatory, social and legal burdens can be monumentally demanding and expensive. In addition, parenting a child who may have been let down by the adults in his or her life or who has other special needs is in and of itself a challenge.
Congratulations if you are just starting out on your adoption journey. We think you are awesome! Unfortunately, you are probably not quite ready for us. R+E does not directly work with birth mothers who may be interested in making an adoption plan for their infant and we do not facilitate international adoptions. There are many great agencies in Mississippi who help with domestic and international adoption or who can help you if you are interested in becoming a foster care parent. We usually get involved on the backside of the social work to finalize the process and legally solidify the new parent-child relationship when a parent does not go into the process with the child already identified.
If your child has already been identified, we can probably help you.
We practice in complicated termination of parental rights, straightforward family member adoptions, international re-adoptions (the process to get a Mississippi birth certificate) and private adoptions. Sometimes we can even help you when people look at you a little funny when you tell them your story.
When a Mississippi family has adopted internationally, there is a simply statutory process which allows the family to obtain a Mississippi birth certificate. This is facilitated by the Mississippi Recognition of Foreign Adoptions Act. While the process sounds fancy and complicated, compared to the journey of a couple adopting internationally, it is a piece of cake, and the result is one sheet of paper, a new birth certificate listing the adoptive mom and dad. At R+E, we have helped families who have arrived home from China, Russia, South Africa, Ethiopia, Ukraine, Guatemala, Philippines, Congo, India and a few more that are less common. The process is simple. We file a Petition which attaches most of the paperwork you received during the process, including your home study and other important documents, and then we go see the Judge to have a Final Judgment of Adoption signed and filed in the Chancery Court of your home county. After we receive the Final Judgment, we will send it to Vital Records to obtain the new Certificate of Live Birth. The following is a list of documents you will need:
- Copy of child’s birth certificate or other birth identification issued by country of birth; or if none, an affidavit of parent(s) stating why none is available.
- The original documents related to the foreign adoption certified by the United States Embassy abroad and English translation certified by the translator to be correct.
- Copy of adopted child’s United States visa.
- Copy of home study.
- A copy of U.S. Government Form N-560, Certificate of Citizenship, or a copy of the child’s United States passport, or both, if either or both documents are available.
- A valid government-issued picture identification of parent or parents, such as a passport or driver’s license.
- Proof of residency of the parent or parents in the State of Mississippi.
- The social security card of the child.
"We used Robertson & Easterling to finalize 5 adoptions . The staff is wonderful and Craig goes above and beyond to make sure your experience is smooth and worry free. We will definitely use them again and would recommend them to any family." Andrea Thaggard, Meridian, MS
We Can Help You
Here is the way this works, if you would like to talk about a potential adoption, call our office (601-898-8655) or confidentially submit a basic intake form so our staff can complete a standard conflict check. That’s when we make sure nothing on this end will stand in the way of us being helpful. Then, we will schedule a time for you to talk to one or more of our attorneys to go over your situation.
FAQs related to Adoption
- After my adoption is finalized in Mississippi, can someone attack it years later?
Probably not. If everything is done correctly in the beginning, and everyone who was entitled to notice of the legal proceeding was given an opportunity to participate, the odds of an adoption being attacked years later are small. In addition, adoption proceedings are sealed in Mississippi, which will limit the public's access to any information which would aid any person who may consider it.
- Can same sex couples adopt in Mississippi?
Not currently. However, the Obergefell case will likely change this over time. Mississippi takes a historically conservative view on family, but this varies based on the life experience of the Chancellor assigned to a case.
- Can your firm help me find a baby?
No. We help families who have already identified their child. If you are new to adoption, 200 Million Flowers is our sister organization and holds informational meetings from time to time about adoption realities. This is a good place to start your journey.
- Do the birthparents have to consent to an adoption?
While there are certain circumstances in which both parents rights can be involuntarily terminated, this is extremely difficult to privately accomplish unless both are clearly unfit. The Department of Human Services, state social workers and Youth Court would most likely be involved in this sort of situation, and a potential adoption for a legally free child would be facilitated through the foster care system
- Do we have to go to Court for an adoption in Mississippi?
Yes, but it is not like what you think. Adoption proceedings are usually held in the judge's office or in a courtroom sealed away from the public. Judges are usually happy about adoptions, and will even pose for the family's "first picture.
- How much does adoption cost?
The cost associated with adoptions vary greatly. For example, an adoption through foster care is virtually free. But many international adoptions can cost more than $40,000.00. The legal fees are relatively small in comparison to other costs in most adoptions.
- Is it hard to get a birth certificate in Mississippi if we finalized our adoption over seas?
No. Mississippi has made it very easy to get a Mississippi birth certificate through a simple chancery court proceeding.
- What is 200 Million Flowers?
200 Million Flowers is a ministry founded by Craig and Rachel Robertson. It derives its name from the estimated number of orphans in the world and a quote from Mother Teresa in which she said "How can there be too many children, it is like saying there are too many flowers." 200 Million Flowers has been involved in a number of projects around Mississippi since it was founded in 2011.
- What is a guardian ad litem?
An attorney the court appoints to represent the best interests of a child in a divorce or parental rights and responsibilities case.
- What is the best adoption advice you can give me?
The less specific a family is about a child they may potentially adopt, the better. However, each family is different and the specific dynamics of your home should be carefully considered. Be willing to adapt. You may start down one potential adoption path, but be open to changing course.
- What is the Olivia Y case?
Olivia Y is a federal lawsuit filed by Children's Rights which mandated sweeping reforms in the Mississippi child welfare system.
Forms and downloads related to Adoption
- Adoption Statutes (80.00 KB)
- Affidavit Permitting Disclosure of Birth Parent Information (95.00 KB)
- Certificate of Live Birth (21.00 KB)
- Glossary of Legal Terms (995.00 KB)
- Medical and Social History (146.00 KB)
- MS Registration of Foreign Adoptions Act (18.00 KB)
- Readoption CLE Materials (906.00 KB)
- Re-Adoption Information (607.00 KB)
- Report of Adoption (31.00 KB)