Rhode Island Adoption Laws

State laws govern the adoption process, including any requirements and restrictions for adults looking to adopt. Some adoption cases involve a court-ordered termination of parental rights, such as with surrogate mothers. For the most part, states allow any child to be adopted by an eligible adult, but often children above a certain age must consent to the adoption or at least have a say in the decision. To help with the transition for both parties -- the adoptive parent(s) and the adopted child(ren) -- most states require what is called a "home residency" before it is finalized. The home residency usually lasts for about six months and helps to make sure the child is in a safe and nurturing environment.

Rhode Island Adoption Laws at a Glance

In Rhode Island, any person (even an adult, as long as he or she is younger than the adoptive parent) may be adopted, but children 14 and older must consent to the adoption before it can be finalized. The Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth, & Families provides assistance for families seeking children to adopt through the nonprofit Adoption Rhode Island.

While the state requires a home residency (or home study) in the statute, the court may waive this for good cause. The home study includes information about all household members and their current needs, the prospective parents' motivations for adopting, background information on the prospective parents (including a criminal check), past marriages, safety concerns, and more.

The following table lists additional details of adoption laws in Rhode Island. See FindLaw's Adoption section for more articles and resources.

Code Section 15-7-2, et seq.; No
Who May Be Adopted Any person
Age that Child's Consent Needed 14 years and older
Who May Adopt Any person residing in state may adopt any person younger than himself. If petitioner is married, spouse must join; however, requirement may be waived if it can be shown adoption would be in child's best interest. Nonresident may petition under certain circumstances.
Home Residency Required Prior to Finalization of Adoption? 6 months, but court may waive for good cause
State Agency/Court Child Welfare Services Dept. for Children and their Families/Family (adults-Probate)
Statute of Limitations to Challenge 180 days

Note: State laws may change at any time through the decisions of higher courts, the enactment of new legislation, and other means. You may want to contact a Rhode Island adoption attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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