WHAT IS ADOPTION?
Adoption involves the termination of parental rights of a child’s natural mother and/or father, and the establishment of those rights and responsibilities to the adoptive parent or parents. People can proceed with an adoption with or without legal representation, but due to the complexity of the process, an experienced Hawaii adoption attorney is recommended.
The Family Court must approve or grant an adoption. The following applies:
Adoptive parents may be:
any proper adult person who is not married. If the person is married, his or her spouse must also adopt the child(ren). (a common example is a grandparent or uncle/aunt adoption)
any person married to the legal mother or father of the child(ren). (a stepparent adoption)
a husband or wife, jointly
The appropriate consents have been obtained for the adoption.
The adoption must be in the best interests of the child.
The most common adoptions typically are:
Stepparent adoption — the adoption of a child by the spouse of one of the child’s legal parents.
Relative adoption — the adoption of a child who is a blood relative of the child or person. An example of this is grandparents adopting a grandchild, or an aunt/uncle and their spouse adopting their niece or nephew.
ADOPTIONS MAY BE CONSENT OR NON-CONSENT ADOPTIONS
CONSENT ADOPTIONS are adoptions where a birth mother or birth father sign the necessary consent forms to allow the child to be adopted. If the child is over ten (10) years old, the child must also sign a consent form to be adopted. NON-CONSENT ADOPTIONS are more complicated. An adoption may be granted by the Family Court, so long as all of the following requirements are met:
the birth parent giving up their rights is unlocatable or will not agree to sign the consent form;
the birth parent giving up their rights has not paid support for the child for more than one (1) year;
the birth parent giving up their rights has not contacted the child for more than one (1) year (via in-person visits, telephone, letters, etc.); and
the child has lived with the adopting adult for more than one (1) year.
If the non-consenting parent is unlocatable, the Family Court requires that notice be given to the non-consenting parent through publication. Publication notice is given by posting a legal notice/ad regarding the adoption in a general circulation newspaper, once a week, for four (4) consecutive weeks. A hearing must be held after the four weeks of notice, regarding the adoption.
Documents — the following documents are required for the adoption process:
a certified copy of the adopting parties’ marriage certificate;
a certified copy of the child(ren)’s birth certificate(s);
a certified copy of any divorce decree for the adopting parent, if that parent has been divorced;
copies of the child(ren)’s birth records from the hospital where the child(ren) was/were born.
The State of Hawaii’s Court filing fee to start an adoption is $215. Attorney fees to prepare the adoption are charged at an hourly rate.
The length of time to complete an adoption is approximately six to twelve months, depending on many of the factors listed above.
WHERE DO I START?
Be aware – adoption involves much more paperwork than people realize. Prior to scheduling a consultation, it is very helpful to work on one of our questionnaires, to assist us in understanding your situation. Clicking below will download one of our adoption questionnaires, all in Adobe(R) Acrobat(R), or .pdf format:
If you do not have Adobe Acrobat(R) or Adobe Acrobat Reader(R), you can go to the Adobe (R) website to get Adobe Acrobat Reader(R) for free.
If you have a question about adoption, or would like to set up a consult, e-mail us or call us at (808) 593-2199. We’ll be happy to speak with you.
FURTHER READING ON ADOPTION IN HAWAII