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Before we begin, please understand that this site does not provide legal advice. This site is designed to be an inexpensive tool for learning about adoption law and procedure. For the most part, this site provides adoption help, free information, as well as links to resources you can use to understand the adoption process better and complete an adoption without an attorney.


While this site may in some instances provide a general explanation of the law regarding specific issues or an overview of state law regarding said issues, it does not serve as a substitute for the legal advice of an attorney.


Also note that this site does not provide all of the law regarding any issue, but rather those aspects of law pertaining to uncontested and domestic adoption cases. Which also means that, if the parties involved in your case are outside of the US and/or may contest the case (leading to litigation), you should probably consult with an attorney before taking any action.


Do it yourself Adoption – An Affordable Alternative


There are several ways to get an adoption. There is the traditional approach where you go through an attorney or adoption agency. It can be expensive but sometimes necessary. The other and much more affordable option is to do it entirely yourself or with the help of an online adoption forms service. Doing it entirely yourself is the absolute cheapest in terms of money, but it may not be the cheapest overall when you factor in the time-consuming/complicated process of completing/filing the paperwork. However, an easy and affordable alternative to that would be going through an adoption forms service, which is why we will primarily focus on that idea.


Adoption forms services offer the most convenient and valuable solution, and they are ideal for individuals with simple cases which do not require extensive legal representation (by an attorney).


Adoption forms services provide more than just forms and instructions, they offer a simpler step-by-step version of the traditional adoption procedure used by law firms and adoption agencies. Most adoption forms services are actually comprised of paralegals that specialize in uncontested private adoptions and have at one point and time worked for adoption agencies and attorneys.



Let’s start with some Do It Yourself Adoption Basics


Almost all states have so-called "simplified adoption statues and guidelines" which make it easier for people to represent themselves and complete an adoption without an attorney. The key requirements are usually as follows:

  • proper adoption paperwork is filed (state and county specific forms)
  • all guidelines that apply are followed (keep reading for more details)
  • and all parties consent to the adoption (or at least don't contest it)



Core concept of a Simple Adoption:


  • Through the process of adoption, the Adoptive Parent(s) acquire parental rights to the adoptee which the birth parent(s) give up by consenting to the adoption (signing for it).
  • A local area court facilitates the adoption, works with Social Services to ensure that the Adoptive Parents are fit to adopt, and that the adoption is in the best interest of the child.
  • All documents in connection with the adoption are filed with the Clerk of the Superior Court. Once approved by a judge, the Adoption is complete.


General Adoption Rules and Guidelines



Basic requirements:


  • Most anyone who meets the State's age and residency requirements is allowed to adopt. In most states, the minimum age requirement is 18 and the residency requirement is 60 days to 1 year. In some states like Colorado, Delaware, and Oklahoma the age requirement is 21 and in Georgia and Idaho 25.
  • In addition, states like California, Georgia, Nevada, New Jersey, South Dakota, and Utah require that the person adopting must be at least 10 years older than the person being adopted and at least 15 years older in Idaho.


Persons that may be Adopted

  • All States allow children to be adopted while some also allow adults to be adopted.
  • Arizona, Colorado, South Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin, and Wyoming require that the child being adopted must live in the State at the time the adoption. In Iowa, the child must live with the adopting parent or parents for at least 180 days before an adoption may be filed.
  • Colorado and Rhode Island allow the adoption of adults 21 years old or younger. In Nevada, the adult adoptee must be younger than the adopting parent or parents. Alabama and Ohio only allow the adoption of adults who are disabled or mentally retarded.
  • In Idaho, Illinois, and South Dakota, the adult to be adopted must be in a "sustained parental relationship" with the adopting parent for anywhere from 6 months to 2 years.
  • Virginia allows the adoption of an adult stepchild, niece, or nephew, if the adoptee lived with the adopting parent at least 3 months before becoming an adult and is 15 years younger than the adopting parent.


Length of the Adoption Process:

  • Adoption starts at the time of the filing and can last anywhere from 3 to 6 months.


Consent to Adoption

  • In most states, all parties must give consent to an adoption. This includes the biological parents (unless the person being adopted is an adult), the adopting parent or parents, and any person being adopted (age 10 or older) must consent to an adoption by signing a consent form and having it notarized. Some States may require the filing of a petition of relinquishment or even an appearance before a judge.
  • There are special situations where the consent of the biological parents isn't required in child adoption cases which include but aren't limited to: abandonment of the child, failure to support or establish a significant relationship with the child, mental incompetence, or a finding of parental unfitness due to abuse or neglect.


Social Services (Homestudy and Background Check)


All States require a Home Study, which is a report made by a Social worker, to be completed before an adoption can be approved. A Home Study report usually covers the following:

  • Family Values
  • Education and Employment
  • Relationships
  • Daily Life
  • Parenting Knowledge
  • Neighborhood
  • Religion
  • Approval or Recommendation


In addition to Home Study, a Background Check is also required to show that the adopting parent or parents have no history of child abuse or an offense on record that may put the child's safety at risk. A simple background check can be done through the help of a local law enforcement agency.


For information regarding laws and regulations specific to your State, contact the juvenile, family, or surrogacy court. Ask to speak to the court clerk. Mention that you will be representing yourself. Don't ask for legal advice. Don't forget to ask about information packets. If the court does not have any adoption information packets, get whatever information you can during your phone call or visit.


Adoption Process Overview


These are simplified steps to help you get an idea of what the adoption process is like:


  1. Gather information and get your questions answered.
    • Find out what the residency requirement is for your state and county. In most States, courts ask that you have lived in their local area for at least 6 months to a year before allowing you to file an adoption case.
    • Gather personal information about the adoptee, the birth parents, and yourself. You will need this and other information for the adoption paperwork.
    • Get answers to any questions you may have before filing the adoption paperwork. Look up the specific laws and guidelines for your State as well.
  2. File your adoption paperwork and serve copies to the Birth Parent(s)
    • Get the adoption paperwork prepared and file it with you local county court. Remember, you will pay the filing fee or court costs at that time. Serve copies to the Birth Parents and file the proof of service with the court. Get the birth parents and the adoptee (under 18) to sign and therefore consent to the adoption.
  3. Await notification of a court hearing date and appear at the hearing
    • A hearing date is assigned in consultation with the judge's schedule and the court calendar. You may be notified of the hearing date by mail or phone. You usually are required to attend this hearing. Court hearings are held to allow the judge or magistrate hearing the case to question the parties involved.
    • At the end of the hearing, the judge or magistrate will set a date for the finalization of the adoption. Adoption certificates are issued at the hearing. You may wish to request additional copies of the legal documents for your files.
    • Optional: After the adoption is finalized, you can apply for amended birth certificates to be issued.

If you get your forms from an adoption forms service company, you will also receive instructions containing information about how adoption hearings are conducted.



Cost of Adopting


The adoption forms can be obtainied free of cost or for a small fee from the courhouse. If you go through an adoption forms service company, the forms and prepearation thereof will be included in the price which can range from $150-$300 depending on your state. The court filing fee (mandatory) is always paid separately and directly to the court clerk at the time of filing. It can range from $100 to $250 depending on your state.


  • Adoption Forms Service Fees:
    • Most Adoption Forms Service Companies charge $150-$300 as mentioned above. The fee covers one complete adoption. There are usually no additional fees or hidden costs beyond that and adjustments are free. In addition, most offer guarantees and refunds in case something goes wrong.


In contrast, going through an attorney or agency, an adoption (even a simple one) could cost as much as $12000 or more. So obviously, on your own (or with the help of an adoption forms service company) you would be saving literally thousands of dollars.


Frequently Asked Questions


  • How can I know if I’ll be able to file for adoption on my own?
    • If you are confident that everyone involved in the adoption will consent to it or at least not contest it, you can represent yourself and do your own adoption.
  • What software programs will I need?
    • You will need Adobe Acrobat software since most adoption forms will come in an electronic format. Your computer probably has this software, but if not, go to and look for a download link. The software is free.
  • Does the adoptee or natural parents need to sign?
    • Ideally, they should in order to show consent, unless the adoptee is an adult in which case their signature is not required. There are certain other exceptions in which their signature is also not required, such as abandonment.
  • What if I have legal questions before I file for adoption?
    • You can always contact an attorney for a “no obligation” consultation or look for online services that provide legal consultation.
  • What if I cannot locate the natural parents?
    • If you cannot locate the natural parents you will need to file for adoption anyway and then file for default later.  

For all other questions, please contact us.



Adoption forms services and how they work

  • With most adoption services, you place an order and either downlad an electronic questionnaire or complete one online.
  • It takes about 2-3 days for your forms to be done. When done, you receive notification and a link to download your paperwork. Once downloaded, you should review, print, and sign the paperwork.
  • Before you file the paperwork, send copies to the natural parents, and collect any remaining signatures. Once done, a court hearing will be set which you will attend to finalize the adoption.
  • Specific instructions included in your forms will guide you through the process. Help is also available over the phone.


Adoption Forms Services worth checking out:





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