Alabama Adoption Laws: 2021 Ultimate Resource

Alabama Adoption Laws: 2021 Ultimate Resource

Each state’s adoption laws can vary, so it is important that if you are considering adopting a child in Alabama that you become familiar with Alabama’s adoption laws.

Alabama adoption laws are in place to protect the birth parents, the prospective adoptive parents, and the child being adopted. You will want to find an adoption agency or an adoption lawyer who is very knowledgeable in the Alabama adoption laws.

We will cover some of the legal specifics for those adopting in Alabama involving newborn adoptions through the domestic adoption process, as well as adopting an infant or older child through the foster care system.


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With so many aspects of Alabama’s adoption laws and their corresponding policies, it is impossible to cover them all in one article. We will, however, dive into many facets of the adoption laws in Alabama.

You are strongly encouraged to contact a licensed adoption agency or an adoption lawyer for specific adoption laws and policies in Alabama, as laws and policies do change.

Can you adopt without a lawyer? How much do adoption attorneys cost? Learn all that and more by visiting Adoption Lawyers in Alabama: Do You Need an Adoption Attorney? where we also give you step-by-step instructions on how to vet an adoption lawyer.

Adoption Requirements in Alabama

  • Must be 18 years of age or older.

  • No age, race, or lifestyle discrimination.

  • LGBT, married couples may adopt.

  • A large income is not required.

  • One may rent or own.

  • Physically and mentally capable to nurture a child.

It is common knowledge that adoption is costly, but that is not to be confused with a false expectation that a prospective parent should be well off financially. Financial security is important and expected when applying to adopt a child, yet being upper class is not one of those qualifications.

Financial security simply means that you are able to pay your bills, cover your rent or mortgage, and that you have a reliable means of income and transportation. What matters most is that a child is loved, cared for, and kept safe and comfortable.


Learn more about adoption attorneys in our article What Does an Adoption Attorney Do? We Find Out.


Below is a summary including key points of the adoption consent laws in Alabama put together for your convenience and is intended to be quicker to digest. For a complete listing of all adoption consent laws in its legal format and in its entirety, visit Title 26 – Infants and Incompetents – Chapter 10A – Alabama Adoption Code, courtesy of Justia US Law.

Section 26-10A-7: Persons Whose Consents or Relinquishments are Required

It goes without saying that consent to adopt is a huge part of the adoption process. We may forget, however, that there is more involved than the birth mother’s consent.

Other aspect may come into play that you will want to keep in mind.

  • The adoptee who is 14 years of age or older must give their consent to the adoption. An exception to this would be if the child is mentally incompetent.

  • The presumed father has the right to consent to the adoption, if:
    • He and the adoptee’s mother are or have been married to each other and the adoptee was born during the marriage, or within 300 days after the marriage was terminated by death, annulment, declaration of invalidity, or divorce; or
    • After a decree of separation was entered by a court.
    • With his knowledge or consent, he was named as the adoptee’s father on the adoptee’s birth certificate; or
    • He is obligated to support the adoptee pursuant to a written voluntary promise or agreement or by court order, or
    • He received the adoptee into his home and openly held out the adoptee as his own child.
  • The agency to which the adoptee has been relinquished or which holds permanent custody and which has placed the adoptee for adoption.
    • Except that the court may grant the adoption without the consent of the agency if the adoption is in the best interests of the adoptee and there is a finding that the agency has unreasonably withheld its consent; and
    • The putative father if made known by the mother or is otherwise made known to the court provided he complies with Section 26-10C-1 and he responds within 30 days to the notice he receives under Section 26-10A-17(a)(10).

  • A petition to adopt an adult may be granted only if written consent to adopt has been executed by the adult seeking to adopt and his or her spouse or by the guardian or conservator of the adult sought to be adopted pursuant to the requirements of Sections 26-10A-6 and 26-10A-11.

Section 26-10A-8: Consent or Relinquishment by a Minor Parent

There are times when a birth mother, who happens to be a minor, decides to put her baby up for adoption. As you can imagine, the consent laws are a bit different under these circumstances.

Let’s take a look at some facts to consider when minor parents are putting their baby up for adoption.

  • Minors require an appointed ad litem to represent them during the adoption process.
  • Any minor, 14 years of age and beyond, can nominate a guardian ad litem either prior to the birth of the baby or thereafter.
  • A consent or relinquishment executed by a parent who is a minor shall not be subject to revocation by reason of such minority.
  • A minor father may give his implied consent by his actions. If a court finds by conclusive evidence that a minor father has given implied consent to the adoption, notice and the appointment of a guardian ad litem shall not be necessary.

Section 26-10A-9: Implied Consent or Relinquishment

  • Abandonment of the adoptee.
    • Abandonment includes, but is not limited to, the failure of the father, with reasonable knowledge of the pregnancy, to offer financial and/or emotional support for a period of six months prior to the birth.

  • Leaving the adoptee without provision for his or her identification for a period of 30 days.

  • Knowingly leaving the adoptee with others without provision for support and without communication, or not otherwise maintaining a significant parental relationship with the adoptee for a period of six months.

  • Receiving notification of the pendency of the adoption proceedings under Section 26-10A-17 and failing to answer or otherwise respond to the petition within 30 days.

Section 26-10A-10: Persons Whose Consents or Relinquishments are Not Required

As Title 26-10A-10 implies, there are times when consent or relinquishments are not required.

  • A parent whose rights with reference to the adoptee have been terminated by operation of law in accordance with the Alabama Child Protection Act, Sections 26-18-1 through 26-18-10.

  • A parent who has been found incompetent by law or a parent whom the court finds to be mentally incapable of consenting or relinquishing and whose mental disability is likely to continue for so long a period that it would be detrimental to the adoptee to delay adoption until restoration of the parent’s competency or capacity.
    • The court must appoint independent counsel or a guardian ad litem for an incompetent parent for whom there has been no such prior appointment.

  • A parent who has relinquished his or her minor child to the Department of Human Resources or a licensed child placing agency for an adoption.

  • A deceased parent or one who is presumed to be deceased under Alabama law.

  • An alleged father who has signed a written statement denying paternity.

  • The natural father where the natural mother indicates the natural father is unknown, unless the natural father is otherwise made known to the court.

Section 26-10A-13: Time of Consent or Relinquishment – Filing with the Court

Consenting to adoption has its limitations, as does the desire to relinquish a previous consent. Let’s take a look at some things to keep in mind during this crucial time in the adoption process.

  • Consent may be withdrawn within five days after birth or within five days of signing the consent or relinquishment, whichever comes last.

What that tells us is that if the birth mother signs consent and then changes her mind four days later, she is within her legal right to do so. Many adoption agencies wait until after this five day period to give the child to the adoptive family.

  • Consent or relinquishment can be withdrawn if the court finds that the withdrawal is reasonable under the circumstances and consistent with the best interest of the child within 14 days after the birth of the child or within 14 days after signing of the consent or relinquishment, whichever comes last.

This time may allow for the birth mother to get the child back, but the challenge for her to do so is great. She needs to prove that she can provide a home for the child that is more loving, more stable, and more caring than the family who wants so desperately to adopt.

Section 26-10A-14: Withdrawal of Consent or Relinquishment

Consenting to adoption is a huge commitment and may not be withdrawn except for a few rare circumstances.

  • As provided in Section 26-10A-13; or

  • At any time until the final decree upon a showing that the consent or relinquishment was obtained by fraud, duress, mistake, or undue influence on the part of a petitioner or his or her agent or the agency to whom or for whose benefit it was given. After one year from the date of final decree of adoption is entered, a consent or relinquishment may not be challenged on any ground, except in cases where the adoptee has been kidnapped.

If a birth mother wishes to get the child back after one year of the adoption, she needs to show that that child was kidnapped. This, however, is very unlikely.

Alabama Subsidies for Foster Care Adoption

Adoption assistance, otherwise know as adoption subsidies, is available for foster children in Alabama who suffer from physical, mental, and developmental challenges.

These children are at a heightened risk of health problems, learning disabilities, as well as mental health issues. Subsidized adoption provides assistance to adoptive families for medical access, special equipment, therapies, tutoring, and other support services.

In the US, about 90% of the children in foster care are eligible for adoption assistance.

Special Needs Eligibility in Alabama

A child with special needs may qualify for adoption assistance if the child meets one or more of the following circumstances, courtesy of NACAC.

  • Noted emotional, physical, or mental issues.
  • Siblings of two or more being placed for adoption in the same home at the same time.
  • A child five years of age or older.
  • Due to underlining issues in the past, the child is likely to suffer emotional, physical, or mental struggles in the future.

Children adopted from private adoption agencies may be eligible for an adoption subsidy, but only if the children are eligible for federal (title IV-E) adoption assistance.

Section 26-10-25: Subsidies – Agreements; Type; Amount; Duration; Limitation

When adoptive parents wish to adopt a child with certified special needs whom is eligible for subsidy, and before the final decree of adoption is issued, there must be a written agreement between the State Department of Human Resources and the adopting family as to the terms and conditions of the subsidy.

The adoption assistance is meant for special services only, and may be in the form of money payments and/or special services for either a limited or long term period. The negotiated amount received may not exceed the amount that would be allowable for such child if the child had remained in foster care, or if a special service, the reasonable fee for that service.

Alabama Adoption Advertising Laws

Adoption advertising is defined as using a public medium to express an interest in adopting a child or sharing that a child is available for adoption either by print or electronically.

Common means of advertising include:

  • Newspapers
  • Periodicals
  • Radio
  • Television
  • Internet
  • Billboards
  • Printed Flyers

According to the ChildWelfare.gov – State Statutes Current Through July 2020, there are 33 states that currently have laws that either limit or regulate adoption advertising, which includes the state of Alabama.

Digging deeper into the regulations for adoption advertising, we find that there are two states that completely prohibit the use of any type of advertising related to adoption by any person or entity: Alabama and Kentucky.

Our take away here is that adoption advertising of any kind is not legal in the state of Alabama.

Courtesy of ChildWelfare.gov.

Birth Parent Expenses in Alabama

In all states, no person or agency is allowed to accept payment for assisting, placing, or organizing the placement of a child, as this is illegal.

There are some things, however, that adoptive parents may be allowed to pay for in Alabama. These things include:

  • Counseling
  • Legal fees
  • Adoption agency fees
  • Prenatal visits
  • Living expenses
  • Hospital costs

Adoptive parents are required to file a complete record of expenses related to the adoption that they are covering, and this must happen prior to making a payment toward those expenses.

Once the court approves the adoptive parents documented expenses, the funds may be either paid at that time or placed into an escrow account.

Your licensed adoption liaison will help to ensure that all financial aspects of the adoption process run smoothly and legally.

What do you do, though, if said expenses are paid and the birth mother changes her mind in the end? Adoption Disruption insurance is available for adoptive parents to protect them from such a misfortune for those adopting domestically.

Accessing Adoption Records in Alabama

If a child was adopted in the state of Alabama, adoptees may reach out to the Alabama Department of Public Health at County Records on Microfilm Database for information on accessing their records.

Adoptees Wishing to Obtain Original Birth Information

The Alabama legislature amended the vial records law in 2000 to allow an adult adoptee or other person whose original birth certificate was placed in a sealed file to receive a non-certified copy, along with other documents in that sealed file.

Birth Parents Preference for Contact

The 2000 revision to the vital records law also allows a birth parent to place information in the “sealed file” of the child who was adopted. The birth parent may state his or her wishes regarding being contacted and may provide medical history information.

Courtesy of AlabamaPublicHealth.gov.

Post Adoption Contact Laws in Alabama

Section 26-10A-30: Grandparent Visitation

Adoptive parents have a right to decide who has contact with their adopted child and when. Many times in an open adoption, the adoptive parents and the birth family have a mutual and informal agreement regarding contact with the adopted child.

The state of Alabama permits enforceable contact agreements granting postadoption visitation rights for the natural grandparents of the adopted child. These visits may be granted when the child is adopted by a stepparent, a grandfather, a grandmother, a brother, a half-brother, a sister, a half-sister, an aunt, or an uncle and their respective spouses, if any.

Such visitation rights may be maintained or granted at the discretion of the court at any time prior to or after the final order of adoption is entered upon petition by the natural grandparents, if it is in the best interests of the child.

Courtesy of ChildWelfare.gov.

When are Adoption Birth Certificates Issued in Alabama?

Alabama law directs the State Registrar to provide a new birth certificate for the adopted child. This new birth certificate takes the place of the original birth certificate in the state files, and the original birth certificate and evidence of adoption, legitimation, or paternity determination are placed in a “sealed file.” Courtesy of Alabama Public Health.

When your adoption is finalized, court proceedings should immediately include beginning the process of obtaining a new birth certificate for the adopted child that reflects the child’s new last name and adoptive parents.

Do not hesitate to ask your adoption attorney or adoption agency if you need to initiate that process, or if the courts will do that on your behalf.


DISCLAIMER: The above state law information is provided to our readers as a courtesy and is meant to be helpful in offering some insight as to what to expect during your adoption journey. This information is not meant to be viewed as legal advice. In addition, possible changes to state laws may have taken place since the publishing of this article in July 2021.