How to Adopt in Montana

Montana isn't just home to beautiful national parks and mountain ranges; 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 Montana.

What you need to know about adopting a baby in Montana

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 Montana.

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

To be eligible to adopt a child in Montana, you must be at least 18 years old. A single person or married couple may apply to become Adoptive Parents. All applicants must have sufficient income to support the child and submit a physical examination report as a part of the adoption application.

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

Expenses related to adoption in Montana 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:

  • Medical costs
  • Prenatal care for the Birth Mom
  • Travel expenses
  • Temporary living costs for the Birth Mom
  • Counseling to the Birth Parents up to 10 hours
  • Legal and agency fees

The Prospective Parents may not pay for the Birth Parent’s education, vehicles, salary, vacations or permanent living.

How do you become a Foster Parent in Montana?

Anyone who is at least 18 years old and in good mental and physical health may be eligible to become a Foster Paren in Montana. Foster Parents may be of any race, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, and cultural background as long as they meet the following requirements:

  • If a couple, have lived together for at least 2 years
  • Have enough income to support the child and other members of the household without needing the foster care reimbursement
  • Complete orientation and preservice training
  • Complete a home study to ensure the safety and stability of the home
  • Pass a criminal background check and child protective service records screening
  • Provide references

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

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

In Montana, it is only the department or a licensed child-placing agency may assist with any placement of a child.

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

Who must consent to an adoption in Montana?

Consent to adoption in Montana must be given by:

  • The Birth Mom
  • The adoptee if they are at least 12 years old
  • The Birth Mothers husband, if he is the Presumed Father
  • Anyone who has been granted parental rights by the court
  • The department or agency who as custody of the child
  • The child’s legal guardian if both parents have died or had their parental rights terminated

When is consent not necessary for adoption in Montana?

Consent will not be necessary from the following:

  • A parent who has been judicially declared incompetent
  • A person whose parental rights have been terminated for unfitness or have been waived
  • An unmarried Birth Father who has acknowledged paternity and denied interest in the child
  • The personal representative of a deceased parent’s estate

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

A parent having custody of the child may give consent after receiving required counseling services and 72 hours after the child’s birth. It must be acknowledged by an officer who is authorized to take acknowledgments and witnessed by a representative of the court, agency or department.

Consent may only be given after the person required to give the consent has:

  • Been informed that fees for any required counseling and legal fees are allowable expenses that may be paid by a Prospective Adoptive Parent
  • Been provided a copy of the preplacement evaluation of the Prospective Adoptive Parent prior to the execution of the consent
  • If a minor, has been advised by an attorney that does not represent the Prospective Parents

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

Consent to adoption may be revoked only if both the person consenting and person adopting agree on the revocation before the final termination of the consenting person’s parental rights. After the finalization, consent may not be revoked.

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

A ‘Birth Parent’ is a woman who gave birth to the child or the father of genetic origin of the child.

The term ‘Parent’ means the Birth or Adoptive Mother or the Birth, Adoptive, or Legal Father whose parental rights have not been terminated.

The term ‘Putative Father’ means a man who may be a child’s Birth Father but who:

  • Was not married to the child’s Birth Mom on or before the date that the child is born
  • Has not established paternity of the child prior to the filing of a petition for termination of parental rights to the child for purposes of adoption

The term ‘Putative Father’ includes an individual who:

  • Is younger than age 18
  • Is not married to the child’s mother even though the individual is a Presumed Father

In Montana, a Putative Father Registry has been established to inform men who believe they may have fathered a child to receive notice of adoption proceedings for that child or to be notified of the termination of his parental rights.

It is assumed that a man is the Biological Father, therefore granting him parental rights to the child, if he is married to the Birth Mom when the child is born. If the child is born out of wedlock, a man must establish his paternity to have a right in making decisions about adoption proceedings.

Home study and Post Placement Requirements in Montana

Prospective Adoptive Parents in Montana 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 Montana, the home study assessment will include a report of the Adoptive Parents:

  • Medical history and current health
  • Criminal background, including instances of domestic violence and child abuse
  • Parenting skills
  • Ability to financially support the child
  • The level of knowledge and awareness of adoption issues, including, when appropriate, matters relating to open, interracial, cross-cultural, and special needs adoptions
  • At least 1 home visit
  • At least 1 interview with each family member
  • Marital status and family history
  • Education and employment history
  • Age, nationality, racial or ethnic background, and any religious affiliation
  • Whether or not they have a history of alcohol or drug abuse
  • Physical and mental health
  • Whether they have a court order restricting their right to custody or visitation with a child

A criminal background check should also be conducted for everyone, including youth, living in the home.

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

The Prospective Adoptive Parents and their home will be included in the home study assessment. It will be conducted by the department, a licensed social worker, or a licensed child-placing agency.

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

In Montana, a home study will not be approved if the person assessing the family finds someone living in the home would cause physical or psychological harm to the child or that the Prospective Adoptive Parents are not suitable to adopt.

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

For a stepparent or relative adoption, the court may waive both the preplacement home study and postplacement assessment if it finds the adoption to be in the child’s best interest.

What are the home study requirements for adopting a baby 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?

Before the adoption has been finalized, a post placement assessment will take place to ensure the transition into adoption is going well and that the Adoptive Family's circumstances have not changed to no longer fit the child's best interest.

In Montana, the post placement assessment and supervision will last at least 6 months. During this time, the social worker will conduct interviews with the Adoptive Parents and their family, as well as observe their relationship with the child. The evaluation will include the following information:

  • An assessment of the health and wellbeing of the child
  • An assessment of the adjustment of the child into the home
  • Documentation of any change in the Adoptive Parents’ marital status or family history, physical or mental health, home environment, property, income, or financial obligations since the initial home study
  • A recommendation of whether or not the adoption should be finalized
  • Whether the home is suitable for the child

Montana Adoption Professionals

Montana 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:

Compassionate Hearts Adoption Agency

406-681-3127

A Beautiful Choice, Inc.

1-888-960-2378

Lutheran Social Services of Montana

406-655-5600

Catholic Social Services of Montana

406-442-4130

Things to do in Montana

If your adoption journey takes you to Montana, the Treasure State, visit some of it’s most treasured national parks and attractions:

Glacier National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman

Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone

Cathedral of St. Helena in Helena

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 Montana. 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 https://adoptionnetwork.com/ 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.