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Idaho Adoption Laws

Choosing to expand your family through adoption can be an exciting but stressful time. The adoption process can be long and complicated at times. Every state has laws to regulate who can adopt, who can be adopted, and other adoption requirements. Sometimes the procedures can vary, depending on the type of adoption, from private to foster care to international adoptions.

Adoption Laws in Idaho

The following table offers a brief introduction to the main adoption laws in Idaho.

Code Sections Idaho Code Title 16, Chapter 15: Adoption of Children (includes adult adoption)
Who Can Adopt? Any adult resident of Idaho who is at least 15 years older than the child or at least 25 years of age or older, except for spouses of the natural parent (stepparent adoptions) or a person adopting an adult who has shown a substantial relationship as a parent has been maintained for over a year.

The restrictions on adult adoption were in part to prohibit same-sex couples from using adoption as a way to legally pass on their possessions to a partner. However, now that same-sex marriage is legal in Idaho, this is no longer a reason to adopt.

No married person can adopt without consent of spouse.
Who Can Be Adopted? Any child with the consent of his or her parents, if living. Any adult where the person adopting has sustained a parental relationship with the adoptee.
Consent of Adopted Person A child or adult who is at least 12 years old must consent to the adoption, unless he or she lacks the mental capacity to consent.
Same Sex Adoption Gay and lesbian couples who are single or married can adopt in Idaho. In fact, there’s already been a court case on the issue and the lesbian couple won. However, if married, you need the consent of your spouse to adopt.
Home Residency Idaho doesn’t require a specific amount of time for the child to live in the home before the adoption can be finalized.
State Agency Idaho Department of Health & Welfare facilitates the state foster care adoption services.
State Court The local magistrate court in the local judicial district handles adoptions.
Statute of Limitations to Challenge Adoption The time limit to challenge an adoption, called the “statute of limitations,” is six months from the date the adoption order became final, except for fraud on the part of the adoptive parents.
Revocation and Dissolution of Adoptions If a natural parent revokes an adoption and keeps the child, he or she will be required to reimburse the prospective adoptive parents for all adoption expenses such as medical costs, legal fees, and food and clothing for the child.

Adoptions can also be dissolved anytime after the adoptee turns 21 years old when the adoptee and adopting parent agree and the stepparent divorces the biological parent.

Getting Legal Help

If you’re considering adoption, you should consider consulting with an experienced Idaho adoption lawyer to better understand your options and get help suited to your unique circumstances.

Note: State laws change regularly, so it’s best to contact a knowledgeable attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify these adoption laws.

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