Hawaii Adoption Laws: 2021 Ultimate Resource

Hawaii 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 Hawaii that you become familiar with Hawaii’s adoption laws.

Hawaii 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 Hawaii adoption laws.

We will cover some of the legal specifics for those adopting in Hawaii 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 Hawaii’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 Hawaii.

You are strongly encouraged to contact a licensed adoption agency or an adoption lawyer for specific adoption laws and policies in Hawaii, 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 Hawaii: 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 Hawaii

  • Must be 18 years of age or older.

  • One may be either single or married.

  • LGBT couples may adopt.

  • FBI background check is required.

  • Sufficient space to accommodate 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 Hawaii 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 31: Adoption, courtesy of Justia Law.

Section 31-578-2 Consent to adoption

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 10 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.

Hawaii Subsidies for Foster Care Adoption

Adoption assistance, otherwise know as adoption subsidies, is available for foster children in Hawaii 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 Hawaii

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.

  • Race or ethnic background.

  • Siblings of two or more being placed for adoption in the same home at the same time.

  • A child 4 years of age or older at date of adoption placement.

  • Due to underlining issues in the past, the child is likely to suffer emotional, physical, or mental struggles in the future.

Hawaii 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

Upon reviewing the state statues, this issue is not addressed. It would be best to seek an adoption lawyer or other licensed adoption representative to obtain their professional advice regarding adoption advertising in the state of Hawaii.

Birth Parent Expenses in Hawaii

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.

Here again, this issue is not addressed in the state statutes. It would be best to seek an adoption lawyer or other licensed adoption representative to obtain their professional advice regarding birth parent in the state of Hawaii.

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 Hawaii

Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 578-14.5; 578-15: Who May Access Information

There are times when accessing adoption records is needed for medical reasons, such as helping to diagnose or treat an existing medical ailment.

Under those circumstances, the adult adoptee, adoptive parents or guardian of the adoptee may reach out to the Department of Human Services or the child-placing agency to access the birth parent’s medical history.

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 578-14.5: Access to Nonidentifying Information

When medical records are granted, they will contain any known medical history, as well as potential genetic or other inheritable diseases. The Department of Health will do their best to obtain this information from the birth parents, providing the birth parents submit their written permission to do so.

If the birth parents provide their consent and submit their medical records, only nonidentifying information will be made available.

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 578-15(b): Mutual Access to Identifying Information

Sealed adoption records may not be broken and the records shall not be inspected by any person, including the parties to the proceedings except as follows:

  • A court order showing good cause.

  • After the adoptee turns 18 and who submits a written request to the family court for inspection by the adoptee or the adoptive parents.

  • Request for ethnic background or necessary medical information.

  • Request for the original birth certificate by the natural parent.

Courtesy of ChildWelfare.gov.

Post Adoption Contact Laws in Hawaii

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 issue of post adoption contact is not addressed in the state statutes. It would be best to seek an adoption lawyer or other licensed adoption representative to obtain their professional advice regarding birth parent in the state of Hawaii.

When are Adoption Birth Certificates Issued in Hawaii?

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.