Understanding Utah Adoption Laws

Understanding Utah Adoption Laws

Photo by Kindel Media

Adoption is a joyous act of love. However, if you’re considering adopting a child in Bountiful—or even trying out fostering first—you should be prepared and informed about all the laws surrounding it.

Utah, like all states, regulates adoption. This includes who can adopt and who can be adopted. Similar to child custody cases, Utah courts consider the “best interests” of the child when considering adoptions. Utah must also comply with federal laws, including the Indian Child Welfare Act.

If you’re interested in learning more about adoption and fostering in Bountiful, keep reading!

How Do I Begin This Process?

Attending Raise the Future’s adoption orientation and foster care webinar is highly recommended if you are new to the adoption process.

Additionally, Utah Foster Care holds public information nights throughout the state. For more information, please call 877-505 5437. Utah Foster Care can help you get started in the adoption or foster care process. Also, they will direct you to the nearest office to your home and arrange for orientation.

In tandem with working with an agency, it is also recommended that you work alongside an experienced adoption attorney in Bountiful that can provide you with legal counsel. 

What Are The Requirements To Become A Foster Or Adoptive Parent?

To become a foster or adoption parent in Bountiful, you must meet certain qualifications.

The basic qualifications are:

  • Must be 21 years old or older
  • Can be single, married, divorced, or widowed
  • Can rent or own your own home or apartment
  • Can already have children in your home or not have children
  • Can work outside the home
  • Can have a small or large income

And to get into specifics, while an adult over the age of 21 can adopt, they must obtain consent from their spouse if they are married. However, a single person may not adopt if they cohabitate and are involved in a sexual relationship. Furthermore, adoption by identical-sex couples in Utah is legal and allows more couples to expand their family.

Photo by Ron Lach

What Are The Utah Adoption Laws?

There are a few adoption laws that must be followed in Utah.

In Bountiful, if a child or an adult is eligible, they can be adopted regardless of age. And if the child is at least 12 years of age, they can personally consent to adoption. 

Furthermore, the minimum time that a child must reside in the home before an adoption can be finalized is six months. This means you must foster that child for at least six months. On the other hand, to adopt a spouse’s child, the child must reside with the stepparent for at least one year. 

For children who have been abused, neglected, or had their parental rights terminated by the juvenile court, the adoption petition can be filed at your District Court.

What Is The Process Like?

There are three main steps and three different agencies to become a resource family to foster, adopt, or foster/adopt.

Each agency provides a different service to the family and interacts with them at different points in the adoption process. Therefore, you must schedule an initial consultation before registering for the training.

  1. Training & Application

It takes approximately one month to complete the training, which includes 24 hours of training in person and additional training online. This training prepares families to provide care for children who have been taken from their biological families and are in need of foster, foster/adopt, or adoptive homes.

To go from foster to adoption in Utah, one must complete an application. Utah Foster Care can help with the completion of this application. After the training has been completed, a certificate will be issued.

Photo by Kindel Media

  1. Assessment & Licensing

The state office for licensing decides whether a family and their home meet minimum safety and health requirements. They also conduct a home inspection. A license can be issued if the home and family meet the minimum requirements.

  1. Approval

The Utah Division of Child and Family Services reviews all applications—including home studies, training certificates, licenses, and applications. In addition, the division had the power to approve, defer, or deny placements of children in their care to a family for any reason.

Again, adoption can be complicated. Adoption is governed by many laws, both federal and state. However, these laws can be negotiated with an experienced adoption attorney. An attorney will review your case and provide legal advice. They will also advocate for you and your family.

What Are The Costs Of Adoption?

The foster care system is generally less expensive than other avenues of adoption.

The cost of adoption is dependent on many factors, including the type of adoption, the agency through which it may be done, the infant’s age, and other factors. There are usually less than $20 fees associated with background checks. However, additional costs may be involved in bringing a home into compliance with state regulations. 

At the end of it all, adoption costs can vary from $25,000 to $60,000, with an average of $45,000 in Bountiful. Thus, before you decide how to adopt, it’s important to research the best routes of adoption and the best agencies to help you.

Are There Support Groups For Adoptive Parents?

If you decide to adopt, know that you’re not alone and there are many resources out there. There are several support groups and communities in Utah for post-adoption navigation if needed.

Yes, adoption is beautiful; however, it can be just as difficult as any other biological parent-child relationship. 

Photo by RODNAE Productions

Final Thoughts

On an average day, Utah has between 2,400 and 2,800 children in state custody or guardianship. This is because their primary caregivers can no longer care for them. And the children who end up in foster care come from various ages and backgrounds.

Adoptive families are needed for older children, siblings, and children with special needs. These children require safety, acceptance, love, and nurturing in a family setting to be happy and productive.

Fostering and adoption can change a life forever.

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