Each state’s adoption laws can vary, so it is important that if you are considering adopting a child in Maine that you become familiar with Maine adoption laws.
Maine 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 Maine adoption laws.
We will cover some of the legal specifics for those adopting in Maine involving newborn adoptions through the domestic adoption process, as well as adopting an infant or older child through the foster care system.
With so many aspects of Maine 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 Maine.
You are strongly encouraged to contact a licensed adoption agency or an adoption lawyer for specific adoption laws and policies in Maine, 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 Maine: 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 Maine
- Must be 21 years of age or older.
- One may be either married or single.
- LGBT couples may adopt.
- Physically and mentally healthy.
- Three references are required.
- Must provide your fingerprint.
- Background check.
- Home inspection.
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 can 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 Maine
Below is a summary including key points of the adoption consent laws in Maine put together for your convenience and is intended to be quicker to digest. For a complete listing of all adoption consent laws in their legal format and their entirety, visit Maine Revised Statutes Title 18-A. Probate Code § 9-201, courtesy of FindLaw.
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.
Another 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.
Maine Subsidies for Foster Care Adoption
Adoption assistance, otherwise known as adoption subsidies, is available for foster children in Maine 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 assists adoptive families with 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 Maine
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.
- Be of minority ethnic/racial background.
- Siblings of two or more being placed for adoption in the same home at the same time.
- A child 5 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.
Maine 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
Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 18-C, § 9-313: Use of Advertisement
In the state of Maine, a person may not do any of the following:
- Advertise to find a child to adopt or take into permanent physical custody.
- Advertise that the person will place a child for adoption or in any other permanent physical placement.
- Advertise to find a person to adopt or otherwise take into permanent custody a particular child.
This law does not prohibit the following:
- The Department of Health and Human Services or an agency placing a child from advertising in accordance with rules adopted by the department.
- A lawyer licensed to practice in Maine from advertising the lawyer’s availability to practice or provide services relating to the adoption of children.
Courtesy of ChildWelfare.gov.
Birth Parent Expenses in Maine
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.
Maine Revised Statutes Title 18-A. Probate Code § 9-306: Allowable Payments & Expenses
In the state of Maine, legal fees and costs associated with the adoption such as counseling before and after the birth of the baby, medical expenses for the birth, transportation costs, and reasonable living expenses for the birth mother may be paid by the adoptive parents.
Examples of such expenses may be as follows:
- Legal fees
- Adoption agency fees
- Prenatal visits
- Living expenses
- Hospital costs
Adoptive parents are generally required to file a complete record of expenses related to the adoption that they are covering, and this must happen before making a payment toward those expenses.
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 Maine
Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 22, § 2706-A; Tit. 18-C, § 9-310 Who May Access Information
Maine has an adoption registry, and the following persons may participate:
- A birth parent
- Adoptive parents or a legal guardian of the adoptee under the age of 18 or who is disabled
- The legal guardian of a sibling or half-sibling of the adoptee who is under the age of 18
- Birth siblings or half-siblings who are 18 years of age or older
- If a birth parent is deceased, a birth mother, legal father, grandparent, sibling, half-sibling, aunt, uncle, or first cousin of the deceased birth parent
Genetic or medical information may be made available for the following:
- Adoptee’s descendants
- Adoptee who is 18 years of age or older
- Adoptive parents or legal guardian of the child on petition of the court
Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 22, § 8205; Tit. 18-C, § 9-310: Access to Nonidentifying Information
Before the child is placed for adoption, the licensed agency placing the child may obtain medical and genetic data of the birth parents and the child that shall include the following:
- Medical, psychological, and developmental history of the child, including prenatal care, medical condition of the child at birth, newborn screening results, and any drug or medications taken by the birth mother during pregnancy.
- Types of abuses such as physical, inappropriate touching, or emotional abuse to the child.
- Medical records and immunizations since the birth of the child.
- Birth parents social, medical, and psychological history.
The above information shall be provided to the adoptive parents by the child-placing agency, and also to the adopted child once the child reaches the age of 18.
Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 22, § 2706-A; 2766: Mutual Access to Identifying Information
The State registrar maintains files of names and addresses of adoptees and their adoptive and birth-parents who have registered with the registry.
Voluntary registration involves the requestor indicating whom they would like to be in touch with and to whom they permit the State registrar to share their identifying information. When a request has been made, the registrar will reach out to the other party to inform them of the request being made.
If the birth parents are deceased, the adult adoptee may have access to his birth parent’s identifying information.
Courtesy of ChildWelfare.gov.
Post Adoption Contact Laws in Maine
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 parents in the state of Maine.
When are Adoption Birth Certificates Issued in Maine?
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 help offer 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.