Adoption Agencies, Information and Resources in Wisconsin

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More in depth information is provided on our Adoption Laws By State page.

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How to Adopt in Wisconsin

Wisconsin isn’t just home to the Cheese Capital of the World; it’s also home to many families seeking adoption opportunities and resources to begin their journey. Whether you are looking to adopt, looking to place your child for adoption, or searching for information about home studies and where to begin the process, the following information will be your guide to all things adoption in Wisconsin.

What you need to know about adopting a baby in Wisconsin

To get started on your adoption journey, it is important to understand some of the fundamental aspects and frequently asked question about the process. Here are a few things to know when considering adoption in Wisconsin.

What are the laws and requirements for adopting a baby in Wisconsin?

To qualify to adopt a child in Wisconsin, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a legal resident of Wisconsin
  • If requested by the child’s Birth Parents, the Adoptive Parents must be the same religious faith as the Birth Parents

An Adoptive Parent may be single or married. If married, both spouses must agree to the adoption.

How much does it cost to adopt a baby in Wisconsin?

Expenses related to adoption in Wisconsin range widely depending on the type of adoption you decide to pursue. Are you looking to adopt internationally or domestically? Through a private agency or the foster care system? Depending on what you decide, Adoptive Parents may be asked to cover adoption-related expenses such as:

  • Maternity clothes for the Birth Mother up to $300
  • Birthing classes
  • Medical and hospital bills for the Birth Mother related to the pregnancy or child’s birth
  • Medical and hospital bills for the child
  • Counseling for the Birth Mom and legal Father of the child before and after the birth
  • Transportation expenses for the Birth Mom if related to the adoption
  • Legal services and agency fees
  • A gift to the Birth Mother up to $100
  • Living expenses for the Birth Mom up to $5,000, if needed to protect the health and welfare or her and the child

How do you become a Foster Parent in Wisconsin?

To become a Foster Parent in Wisconsin, you must be at least 21 years old, capable of caring for a child, pass a criminal background check, and your home must meet the safety requirements.

For more information on licensing requirements, click here.

Can you finalize an international adoption in Wisconsin?

Foreign adoption will be recognized in Wisconsin if the Department of Children and Family Services approved the placement, and the Adoptive Parents were legal residents of the State at the time of the adoption.

Click here for more information.

What is a facilitator and is it legal to use their services for adoption in Wisconsin?

An adoption facilitator specializes in matching prospective Adoptive Families with expectant mothers; however, they are usually unlicensed and unregulated.

In Wisconsin, it is considered a felony for a facilitator or anyone who commits the following:

  • Places or agrees to place his or her child for adoption for anything exceeding the actual authorized costs and payments
  • Solicits, negotiates, or arranges for anything of value for the placement of a child for adoption unless by an authorized entity
  • Gives anything exceeding the actual cost of the legal and other services rendered in connection with the adoption and the authorized items and payments in order to receive a child for adoption

Click here to read about the difference between adoption agencies, attorneys, and facilitators.

What you need to know about placing your baby for adoption in Wisconsin

If you are considering placing your child for adoption, understanding how the adoption process works as well as knowing your rights may relieve some of your worry. Here are a few things to know when considering adoption for your child in Wisconsin.

Who must consent to an adoption in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, consent to adoption must be given by the following:

  • The adoptee if they are at least 12 years old
  • The child’s legal parents
  • The agency or guardian having custody of the child

The child’s unmarried Birth Father may consent to terminate his parental rights.

When is consent not necessary for adoption in Wisconsin?

Consent to a Wisconsin adoption is not required by the following:

  • A parent whose parental right have been terminated because:
    • They failed to assume parental responsibility
    • They abandoned the child
    • They abused the child
    • There is continuing parental disability
    • They relinquished custody of the child within the first 72 hours after the child’s birth
    • They failed to establish a relationship with the child
    • They caused the child to be conceived as a result of rape or incest
    • They were convicted of homicide or attempted homicide of the child’s other parent
  • A Birth Father of a nonmarital child who is not adopted whose parents do not subsequently marry each other if his paternity has not been established and he has failed to establish his right to notice

How and when can Birth Parents consent to adoption in Wisconsin?

Birth Parents may consent to adoption proceedings after the child is born, except in the case of an Indian child. In this case, consent cannot be given until 10 days after the child has been born.

The parent must petition the court and appear personally to the hearing to give their consent. Written consent will be accepted for a parent if given before an embassy or consul official, a military judge, or a judge of any court of record in another county or state or a foreign jurisdiction.

For an unmarried Birth Father, consent may be given by signing a statement saying he has been informed of and understands the effect of an order to terminate parental rights and that he voluntarily disclaims any rights that he may have to the child.

For an Indian child adoption, consent must be given in writing, before a judge and accompanied by a written certification by the judge that the terms and consequences were fully explained and understood in English or interpreted into a language that the parent understood.

Can a Birth Parent revoke their consent to adoption in Wisconsin?

A Birth Parent may appeal the court to revoke their consent to adoption within 30 days of the termination of their rights on the following grounds:

  • Mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect
  • Newly discovered evidence that entitles a party to a new trial
  • Fraud, misrepresentation, or other misconduct of an adverse party
  • A voided judgment
  • A prior judgment upon which the judgment is based has been reversed or otherwise vacated

In the case of an Indian child, the Birth Parents may petition to revoke their consent if it is found the consent was obtained under fraud or duress, up to 2 years after the it was given.

What rights do Birth Fathers have in the adoption process in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, the term ‘parent’ means either a biological parent, a husband who has consented to the artificial insemination of his wife, or a parent by adoption. The term ‘parent’ does not include any person whose parental rights have been terminated.

A man is a ‘presumed father’ of a child if he and the mother have acknowledged paternity and no other man is presumed to be the father.

Wisconsin has established a Paternity Registry for unmarried men who believe they have fathered a child and want to prove their interest in caring for the child.

Home study and Post Placement Requirements in Wisconsin

Prospective Adoptive Parents in Wisconsin are required to complete a home study before beginning the adoption process and a postplacement assessment after the adoption takes place. Both will assess your ability to provide a safe and stable environment for the child you wish to adopt.

What is a home study and what happens during the process?

The home study is a critical component to the adoption process. While it is to ensure your home will provide a child with stability, safety, and support, it is also a resource for Prospective Adoptive Parents to asks questions and prepare for the adoption. A home study is ultimately a recommendation as to the fitness of the applicants to become Adoptive Parents.

In Wisconsin, if the Prospective Parent was required to obtain a license to operate a foster home before placement of the child for adoption, the agency will:

  • Require a criminal background check
  • Investigate any reports of child abuse or neglect against the Prospective Parent or any adult living in the home

Who oversees a home study in Wisconsin and who is included in it?

A home study in Wisconsin will be conducted by a licensed child-placing agency, licensed child welfare agency or county department. The Prospective Adoptive Parents and any other adult living in their home will be a part of the assessment.

Why would my home study not be approved in Wisconsin?

A home study in Wisconsin will not be approved if a Prospective Adoptive Parent has been convicted of any of the following crimes:

  • Murder
  • Homicide
  • Battery
  • Sexual assault or exploitation
  • Child abuse or neglect
  • Incest
  • Child prostitution
  • Child pornography

Is a home study different for stepparent or relative adoptions in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, if a parent has custody of the child, they may place the child for adoption with a relative without court order.

For a stepparent adoption, a licensed child welfare agency will conduct criminal background checks and hold one interview with the stepparent to ensure it is in the child’s best interest to be adopted.

What are the home study requirements for adopting a child from another state?

Any out-of-home placement of a child outside the State is subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

What is a post placement requirement and what happens during the process?

A post placement study is an assessment of the child and families adjustment to the adoption that takes place before the adoption has been finalized. It is put in place to ensure the Adoptive Family’s circumstances have not changes to no longer fit the child’s best interest.

The requirements for a post placement study in Wisconsin are not addressed in the statutes and regulations reviews.

What are the requirements for a Foster to Adopt placement in Wisconsin?

A Foster Parent who is licensed for adoptions of a domestic infant or a foreign child will not be required to complete the Foster Parent training if the Foster Parent completes the preadoption preparation training.

If the petitioner was required to obtain an initial license to operate a foster home before placement of the child for adoption, they must pass a criminal history search and a child abuse and neglect records check. If the petitioner has been convicted of any of the offenses, the agency may report that the petitioner’s home is not suitable for the child.

Wisconsin Adoption Agencies and Professionals

Wisconsin is home to some amazing adoption professionals who are ready to get your journey started. Whether you are interested in adopting a child or seeking resources to place your child for adoption, these professionals will guide you through the legal pathways and offer you support throughout your journey:

Adoption Services, Incorporated920-735-6750

Adoptions of Wisconsin608-821-8220

Lutheran Social Services Adoption and Foster Care608-277-0610

Adoption Avenues, Inc.608-563-4488

Things to do in Wisconsin

If your adoption journey leads you to Wisconsin, visit some of the state’s most exciting and popular attractions:

Lambeau Field in Green Bay

Taliesin Preservation in Spring Green

Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison

Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee

Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame in Green Bay

A Note from Adoption Network Law Center

No matter your decision, we appreciate the time you have taken to read about how to adopt in Wisconsin. Adoption Network Law Center wishes you the best of luck and is available to answer any further questions you may have about the adoption process. Call 1-866-602-9541 to speak with one of our amazing team members or visit to read more about our services. Whether you’re a soon-to-be Birth Parent or Prospective Adoptive Parent, ANLC wishes you the best on your adoption journey.

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