Can the adoptee have a name change?
a. Yes. UALC will include the request for a name change in the petition for adoption. (Utah Code 78B-6-139)
How old must a child be before his/her consent is required?
a. 12 years old. (Utah Code 78B-6-120)
How much does adoption cost?
a. DCFS Foster Child adoption legal expenses are typically reimbursed by DCFS up to $2,000 per child in accordance with Utah Administrative Code R512-43-4. UALC never charges over the reimbursable amount; rather, we ensure the total legal fees are under the limit.
b. Stepchild adoptions and adoptions by a guardian are typically about $2,600 total for an uncontested adoption. Litigation requires more work and thus usually higher expenses.
c. Adult adoption costs about $1,700.
d. Interstate private adoptions cost $3,500 - $4,500, depending on issues involved.
Must I pay up front?
a. UALC can be somewhat flexible in foster-child cases. For stepparent/guardian adoptions, we need at least partial payment up front, with the balance paid before the hearing.
What court will handle my adoption?
a. Foster child adoptions are usually handled in the same juvenile court that held the child welfare hearings, even if the adopting parents live elsewhere. (Utah Code 78A-6-103(2)(n))
b. Stepchild adoptions are usually handled in the district court in the county where the child lives. (Utah Code 78B-6-105)
c. Adult adoptions are usually handled in the Utah district court for the county where the adopting parent lives, or in the county where the adoptee lives if the adopting parent lives out of state. (Utah Code 78B-6-105)
Must I come to the UALC office to sign legal papers?
a. We always love to meet our clients in person. If needed, we can handle your case through email and Zoom or WebEx. The petition and affidavits must be notarized so we can email these documents to you. Then, you can have them notarized (i.e., at your bank) and then scan and email them back to us for filing with the court. We have done lots of cases remotely over the last few years, with some clients testifying from Maryland, Nevada, Colorado and California.
Where can UALC meet with me?
a. Several options, depending on what is convenient for you.
-- At one of our locations (north to south):
(a) 11075 S State St Bldg 3, Suite 3-D, Sandy UT 84070
(b) 865 S 500 W, Payson UT 84651
(c) 51 East 400 North Ste 1, Cedar City UT 84721
-- At your home.
-- At a convenient location near your home such as a city library.
Will UALC help me get the post-adoption birth certificate from Vital Records?
a. Yes! We work with Vital Records to get you three copies of the new, post-adoption birth certificate, regardless of what state your child was born in. It takes a bit of coordination sometimes, but we get it done.
How long will it take to get the new, post-adoption birth certificate?
a. Usually a couple months after the hearing.
What proof can I get of the adoption?
a. UALC will get you two certified copies of the adoption decree, usually the day after the hearing. We can arrange to have them delivered or mailed to you or you can pick them up if you live near the court.
What about a post-adoption Social Security card?
a. You will probably need to visit your nearest Social Security office. DCFS (or maybe UALC) can give you the pre-adoption Social Security card. We recommend that you take the following documents:
i. Original birth certificate (pre-adoption)
ii. Certified copy of the adoption decree
iii. The new, post-adoption birth certificate
iv. Your driver’s license or passport
b. You will fill out Form SS-5. If the child’s name was changed as part of the adoption, answer “No” to question 11 because the child never received a Social Security card under his/her new name.
Does the UALC handle international adoptions?
a. Not at this time.
Can a single parent adopt a child?
a. Yes, this happens fairly often. However, under the Utah Code 78B-6-117(3), the single parent may not be cohabiting unless the adopting parent is a relative of the child. Under U.A.C. R512-40-4, "Cohabiting" means residing with another person and being involved in a sexual relationship with that person.
What about adopting a child over whom I am the court-appointed guardian?
a. Adoption of a child by a guardian is quite common. However, recent cases from the Utah Supreme Court and Utah Court of Appeals affirm that the Petitioner (Guardian) must prove that termination of the birth parents' rights is "strictly necessary to promote the child's best interest." We must show why a Permanent Guardianship with Parental Visitation is not in the child's best interest. The most recent case on this is In re J.J.W.
Can I adopt if I am separated from my spouse or planning to get a divorce?
a. Utah law states a married may not adopt a child without the consent of his/her spouse. So we either need to get the petitioner's spouse (soon-to-be ex-spouse) to sign a consent, or we need to wait until the divorce is final.
If I have an adult friend or relative living in my home, can I still adopt?
a. Probably. But Utah Code 78B6-128 requires every adult in the home have a criminal background check done.
What about child support and ORS?
a. Stepparent adoptions often involve child support issues. Adoption extinguishes the obligation to pay child support for months after the adoption. However, under Utah law (U.C.A. 78B-6-138), adoption does not automatically extinguish the birth parent's obligation to pay past-due (pre-adoption) child support. The child-support payor (very often the birth father) whose parental rights are terminated should provide a copy of the court's Order Terminating Parental Rights to the Office of Recovery Services (ORS). The easiest way is to fax the Order and include the payor's ORS case number on the fax cover page.
What is the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC)?
a. Each state has adopted an ICPC law that requires interstate coordination before a child can be placed across state lines. In foster child cases, Utah DCFS will work with the Utah ICPC coordinator to handle ICPC issues. ICPC is a larger issue in interstate private adoptions. The American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) has a great website about ICPC. Most states, including Utah, are now exchanging ICPC paperwork electronically through the NEICE IT system, which significantly shortens the time for getting ICPC approvals from the sending and receiving states. The Utah Adoption Law Center welcomes ICPC cases.
Can I claim the child on my taxes even before the adoption is finalized?
a. If it is a foster child, we recommend checking with your DCFS Subsidy Coordinator and then following the IRS instructions for submitting the IRS Form W-7A, Application for Taxpayer Identification Number for Pending U.S. Adoptions.
What are the citizenship requirements for me to adopt my stepchild who was born outside the U.S.?
a. The child must be a permanent resident, i.e., have a green card under Utah Code 78B-6-108. Once passed by Congress, the Adoption Citizenship Act (ACA) will make it easier for adopted children to be granted US citizenship.
If a minor female gives birth, what parental rights does the minor female's parents have?
a. Utah Code 78B-6-123 provides that the minor parent has the power to consent to the adoption of the minor's child and relinquish custody of the minor's child for adoption. The minor parent's decision "has the same force and effect as a consent or relinquishment executed by an adult parent." In other words, the baby's grandmother and grandfather do not have parental rights over their teenage daughter's child.
A relative has left her child with me to care for. I am considering adopting the child. In the meantime, how do I apply for Medicaid for the child while the adoption is pending?
a. Go to www.medicaid.utah.gov and apply online. When asked, you'll choose "Apply for Someone Else," and you will enter the child's income (likely zero), the child's assets (likely nothing), etc. It is called a "Specified Relative" case but the application does not tell you that. You are the "Primary Applicant" when you get to that screen. The child will be the "Enrolled Person." You can call Medicaid at 1-866-435-7414 for assistance. You will need the child's SSN. Also, a signed power of attorney (POA) from the birth parent will be very helpful. You can tell Medicaid that you have physical custody. Medicaid may ask for the birth certificate.
A friend wants me to take care of her child for an extended period of time. What are my options for making this legal?
a. The easiest option is a Temporary Delegation of Parental Authority which is also call an "in loco parentis" power of attorney. On the Utah Courts webpage (www.utcourts.gov) search for "Temporary Delegation of Parental Authority" and then you can download the form "Power of Attorney over Protected Person or Minor Child." The POA is valid for only 6 months. If the child's medical provider and school district will not accept the POA, then a temporary guardianship may be needed. At the Utah Adoption Law Center, we also handle guardianship cases, from gathering evidence to obtaining the Court's Order Appointing Guardian. Please call us for a free consultation about your specific situation.
What is the Family Support Center?
a. Family Support Centers are non-profit organizations in Utah that--among other things--offer Respite Child Care--a safe, free place for parents to take their children for a couple hours. Locations include (going North to South):
-- Logan - The Family Place - 1525 N 200 W, Logan UT 84341; Ph: 435.752.8880
-- Ogden Family Support Center - 3340 Harrison Blvd #100, Ogden UT 84403; Ph: 801.393.3113
-- Clearfield Open Doors - 1360 E 1450 S, Clearfield UT 84015; Ph: 801.773.0712
-- West Valley Crisis Nursery - 3663 S 3600 W, West Valley City UT 84119; Ph: 801.967.4259
-- Taylorsville Family Support Center - 1760 West 4805 South, Taylorsville UT 84129; Ph: 801.955.9110
-- Midvale Crisis Nursery - 777 W Center St, Midvale UT 84047; Ph: 801.255.6881
-- Orem Family Haven - 1255 N 1200 W, Orem UT 84057; Ph: 801.229.1181
-- Richfield Family Support Center - 58 E 300 N, Richfield UT 84701; Ph: 435.896.4256
-- Cedar City Family Support Center - 102 N 200 E, Cedar City UT 84721; Ph: 435.586.0791
-- Washington County Family Support Center - 310 W 200 N, St George UT 84770; Ph: 435.674.5133