Summary of Alabama’s Adoption Law
This summary of the Alabama Adoption Code of 1991 does not constitute legal advice. It is only a summary of the code put into everyday language. For a more comprehensive explanation, please consult an attorney familiar with the practice of adoption.
The Alabama legislature tackled revising Alabama’s outdated adoption law in 1991. With much input from the local adoption community, the new code now provides Alabama a workable law that has received much praise and has become a model for other states as they also revise their old laws. The law works for two main reasons:
1. The law spells out clearly how long a birth parent has to change their mind (5 days after the latest event – the birth of the child or the signing of relinquishments). This protects the birth parents because it gives them a clear window of five days to withdraw from the adoption and it protects the adoptive family after that window is closed. Birth parents decide when they want that countdown time to begin. A birth parent can opt to sign their relinquishment papers even before the child is born. A birth parent can also sign the relinquishment papers at any point after the child is born. If this is the method taken, they would be given the same five-day right of withdrawal.
In those cases that the birth father is unknown or cannot be located, he is given a thirty-day period following the child’s birth to step forward and claim paternity. At the end of thirty days, the Court considers that he has given consent to the adoption. His rights will subsequently be terminated.
2. The law deals strictly with finances. Strict penalties are in effect for those individuals, including birth parents, attorneys, agencies, and prospective adoptive parents, who do not follow the financial guidelines set by the code. All fees must be submitted to the Courts for approval. Fees must be reasonable and directly related to the specific expenses of a particular adoption.
Because Alabama’s adoption code is so clear, it is rare to hear of some of the tragedies that have become common in other states.