Each state’s adoption laws can vary, so it is important that if you are considering adopting a child in Delaware that you become familiar with Delaware’s adoption laws.
Delaware 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 Delaware adoption laws.
We will cover some of the legal specifics for those adopting in Delaware involving newborn adoptions through the domestic adoption process, as well as adopting an infant or older child through the foster care system.
Click on the following to jump to an area of interest:
- Adoption Requirements in Delaware
- Adoption Consent in Delaware
- Delaware Subsidies for Foster Care Adoption
- Delaware Adoption Advertising Laws
- Birth Parent Expenses in Delaware
- Accessing Adoption Records in Delaware
- Post Adoption Contact Laws in Delaware
- When are Adoption Birth Certificates Issued in Delaware?
With so many aspects of Delaware’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 Delaware.
You are strongly encouraged to contact a licensed adoption agency or an adoption lawyer for specific adoption laws and policies in Delaware, 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 Delaware: 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 Delaware
- 21 years of age or older to adopt.
- Marital status is not significant.
- LGBT couples may adopt.
- Must be financially capable.
- Any educational level is acceptable.
- Stable and loving home.
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.
Adoption Consent in Delaware
Below is a summary including key points of the adoption consent laws in Delaware 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 13-9-1: Adoption of Minors, courtesy of Justia US Law.
Section 13-9-1-908: Right to Consent
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.
- The agency to which the adoptee has been relinquished or which holds permanent custody and which has placed the adoptee for adoption.
Delaware Subsidies for Foster Care Adoption
Adoption assistance, otherwise know as adoption subsidies, is available for foster children in Delaware 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 Delaware
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, documented by a professional.
- Member of a minority race or background.
- Siblings of two or more being placed for adoption in the same home at the same time.
- A child 8 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.
If an adoption subsidy is not offered initially during the adoption process, the adoptive parent will want to reach out to the Adoption Assistance/Subsidy Specialist to request post-finalization adoption assistance. The specialist will then negotiate any benefits. For additional information, families can contact the state office at 302-633-2661.
The decision to provide an adoption subsidy is made through the The Division of Family Services
The child must meet the criteria listed above in order to qualify for an adoption subsidy.
Delaware 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:
- Printed Flyers
Per the Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 13, § 930, only the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families or a licensed agency may advertise in the state of Delaware regarding the availability of adoption services or for the placement of a child for the purpose of adoption.
Birth Parent Expenses in Delaware
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.
In the state of Delaware, adoptive parents are only allowed to pay for legal fees and court costs. No other expenses may be paid for by the adoptive parents, as noted in Section 13-9-1: Adoption of Minors.
Accessing Adoption Records in Delaware
Adoption records are held at the Office of Vital Statistics and kept confidential. When the State Registrar receives an application for adoption records, they may issue a non-certified copy of the vital record, including the birth certificate, providing the applicant is 21 years of age or older.
Title 13-923: Confidential Nature of Information; Old and New Birth Certificates
An adoptee 21 years of age or older may request a copy of their original birth record, even if that record has been impounded. This does not apply if the birth parent, within the most recent 3-year period, filed a written notarized statement with the Department of Health and Social Services Office of Vital Statistics denying the release of any identifying information.
Should an adoptee 21 years of age or older seek vital records about any event occurring before January 18, 1999, the Office of Vital Statistics shall consult Family Court to determine whether there is an affidavit on file expressing a desire by either birthparent to keep information about the adoption confidential.
Courtesy of ChildWelfare.gov.
Post Adoption Contact Laws in Delaware
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.
Before the adoption in finalized and if further contact is desired, the birth parents, adoptive parents, and an adoptee 14 years of age or old must provide their written consent as to their understanding of the desired contact moving forward.
Common exchanges could be of addresses, email address, names, photographs, in-person meetings, etc.
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 Delaware?
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.
Prior top finalizing the adoption, certain pieces of information may be shared that will required written consent by the birth parents, the adoptive parents, and the adoptee if they are 14 years of age or older.
Common information that may be shared could be things including but not limited to photographs, in-person meetings, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, names, etc.
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.