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How Adoption Works in Rhode Island


In Rhode Island and across the United States, there are several routes for adoption, and each has unique rules. Different types of adoption work in different ways, and every state has its own laws. For example, private adoption is illegal in Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, and Massachusetts but legal in Rhode Island and other states.

Whether you choose to adopt through an adoption agency, internationally, privately, or via foster care, speaking to a family law attorney can be helpful. An adoption lawyer can help you choose the right option and guide you through contracts, paperwork, and the entire adoption process.

Adoption Requirements

Anyone can become an adoptive parent in Rhode Island, as long as they are over 21 years of age. The state does not have rules against single adults, unmarried couples, or adults of any sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Individuals or families looking to adopt can choose a child in state care through Adoption Rhode Island, adopt via a licensed adoption agency, or arrange a private adoption with the help of an attorney.

Adopting From the State

Adoption Rhode Island has many children that are waiting for families and legally available for adoption. Most of these children are between 8 and 16 years old, and there is no fee to adopt a child in state care through Adoption Rhode Island.

All adoptive families must complete a home study. Home studies “educate and prepare the prospective family for adoption; evaluate the capability and suitability of the prospective family to adopt; and gather information about the prospective adoptive family that will help a social worker match the family with a child or youth whose needs they can best meet (applicable to adoptions in which public child welfare agencies are involved).”

Once you have been accepted into a home-study group, the adoption process takes 3 to 5 months. If you are looking for a child of a certain age or type, you may have a waiting period to be matched with a child – this period can range from a few weeks to 1-2 years. You may also choose to foster a child and adopt them if and when they become legally available.

Adopting From an Agency

Families who wish to adopt an infant may choose to enlist the help of an adoption agency. Each agency has its own criteria for applicants, and some have restrictive costs and requirements. While there are licensed no-cost adoption agencies in Rhode Island, the average cost for an agency adoption is $20,000 to $40,000.

International Adoptions

U.S.-based agencies also handle most international adoptions, though these adoptions have even more special rules and restrictive costs for some families. Most international adoptions take 1 to 4 years and take place through the Hague Convention On Protection Of Children and Cooperation In Respect Of Intercountry Adoption. Non-Hague countries have more difficult adoption processes.

If you choose international adoption, you will certainly need a lawyer, as you must be approved as an adopter and have your child legally recognized by immigration.

Adopting Privately

Private or independent adoption is a popular option in states where it is legal. In this form of adoption, you locate potential birth parents yourself and arrange the nuances of the birth and adoption with a trusted adoption attorney. Many people prefer adopting through a lawyer because it offers privacy and control throughout the entire process.

If you are considering independent adoption, we recommend having an attorney on your side throughout the entire process. Our lawyers at McIntyre Tate LLP have more than 150 years of combined experience handling all types of adoptions.

Call us at (401) 351-7700 or contact us online today to discuss your options and find the best way to add a new child to your family.