Making the decision to adopt a child into your family is a momentous occasion and cause for celebration. However, adoption is also one of the most heavily and strictly regulated legal procedures in the United States, and Utah is no exception to the rule. Utah enforces numerous adoption laws, many of which are highly stringent and specific, and trying to navigate the complex system can feel like an overwhelming task.
Fortunately, you don’t have to tackle the challenge on your own. Rex Bray is an experienced and dedicated family law attorney, and will help you understand and exercise your legal rights as a prospective adoptive parent.
Wherever you may be in the process, call Rex Bray at (801) 708-0913 to set up a private legal consultation completely free of charge. Let’s start discussing the possibilities for your new family.
Who is Eligible to Adopt Children in Utah?
While adoption laws serve many purposes, their greatest concern ultimately lies with protecting the safety and best interests of the adoptee children. As a result, lawmakers have determined that some people qualify as eligible adoptive parents — and others do not.
In Utah, who can and cannot adopt is covered by Section 78B-6-117 of the State Legislature. In accordance with 78B-6-117, provided they are eligible by all other standards, legally married adults and single adults may adopt minor children.
Until the recent past, the language of 78B-6-117 prohibited gay and lesbian couples from adopting by specifying as eligible only “adults who are legally married to each other in accordance with the laws of this state.” However, same-sex marriage was legalized in Utah on December 20, 2013. While the Supreme Court initially stayed the legalization order, that stay was lifted on October 6, 2014. Therefore, same-sex couples are now permitted to adopt in accordance with Utah’s existing statutes.
Utah Adoption Requirements
While sexual preference no longer prohibits prospective parents from adopting, other factors can still render you ineligible. For example, if you have a criminal record, particularly one which involves former convictions related to domestic abuse, you will be disqualified from consideration. As the Utah Division of Child and Family Services explains, “If the applicant(s) does not pass the Criminal Background Check or the Child Abuse Database Screening, the caseworker will inform the applicant(s) that they are not eligible to proceed with the assessment.”
The Division also enforces other criteria for adoptive families. For example:
- You must successfully complete an adoption training program, which must be approved by the Division.
- You must submit to and pass a home inspection by a licensed child placement agency.
- You must receive a special foster care license from the Department of Human Services’ Office
of Licensing. As an alternative, you must either show that you can meet the same standards, or be granted a waiver.
- The Division must formally determine the adoption would not entail any conflict of interest.
These Utah adoption eligibility criteria are strict legal requirements in accordance with the Utah Administrative Code (R512-41-3).
In addition to passing all required screenings, inspections, and background checks, you must also satisfy all additional legal requirements contained within the relevant statutes. For example:
- 78B-6-118 — You must be at least 10 years older than the child you are adopting.
- 78B-6-120 — You must obtain the appropriate consent, from either the adoptee, the father, or the mother.
- 78B-6-125 — You must abide by certain waiting periods. For example, “A birth mother may not consent to the adoption of her child… until at least 24 hours after the birth of her child.”
- 78B-6-128 — You must meet all pre-placement requirements. This statute overlaps with the requirements enforced by the Division of Child and Family Services, such as submitting to be fingerprinted and successfully passing a criminal background check.
Finally, at the end of the process, you must also appear in court and make a formal agreement that the adopted child will be treated as your own lawful child would be treated, in accordance with 78B-6-136.
Adopting a child can be a confusing and difficult legal journey, but don’t get discouraged and give up. It isn’t impossible, and an experienced adoption attorney may be able to help you reach your goals. To arrange for a free and confidential case evaluation, call Rex Bray right away at (801) 708-0913, or contact us online.