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Missouri Adoption Laws

State laws govern and regulate the adoption process, including requirements for adults who wish to adopt, the age at which a child's consent is needed, home residency requirements, and other factors. For instance, Missouri adoption laws state that adoption shall not be delayed on the basis of race or national origin, but that placement will be prioritized by ethnic and racial compatibility (if possible).

Despite calls to adopt uniform laws on adoption nationwide, states have been unable to agree on standardized legislation. For instance, the Uniform Adoption Act of 1994 -- which received its fair share of criticism from a number of adoption organizations -- was enacted by just one state (Vermont). Critics claimed its confidentiality requirements were too restrictive, among other complaints.

Missouri adoption laws are not too different than those of other states. Virtually any adult over the age of 21 (single or married, with or without children) is eligible to adopt a child, but must also:

  • Be in good health (mental and physical)
  • Pass a child abuse and criminal record background check (including fingerprints)
  • Have relatively stable income
  • Live in a structure (house, apartment, etc.) that meets licensing standards
  • Be willing to work with the child's birth family (if applicable)
  • Complete a training and assessment process

Most of these laws and regulations also apply to those who wish to become foster parents. See the Missouri Dept. of Social Services Foster Care Information section to learn more about the process. Missouri also requires a 6-month home residency period.

The following chart provides additional details about Missouri adoption laws and processes. See FindLaw's Adoption section if you would like to learn more about adoption in general.

Code Section 453.010, et seq.; No
Who May Be Adopted Any person
Age that Child's Consent Needed 14 years and older
Who May Adopt Court may order joinder for spouse of petitioner.
Home Residency Required Prior to Finalization of Adoption? 6 months, may be waived by court in certain circumstances
State Agency/Court Social Services, Family Services Division/Juvenile Div. of Circuit Court
Statute of Limitations to Challenge 1 year

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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Missouri Adoption Laws: Related Resources

Adopting a Child in Missouri? Consult With an Attorney First

Adoption is a complicated process, and the procedures may vary depending on the type of adoption you are pursuing. But since the stakes are so high -- nothing less than life-altering for your family -- it's important to do it right. If you have any questions about the process, it's in your best interests to contact a Missouri family law attorney at your earliest convenience.

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