Adoption

In Mississippi, adoption proceedings are within the jurisdiction of chancery courts.   Before a petition can be filed, a physician’s certificate must be obtained, and an inventory of property belonging to the child must be completed.  If child’s natural parents are not deceased, the parents can consent to the proposed adoption; if the parents will not consent to the adoption, a court must determine whether termination of parental rights is appropriate.  Furthermore, if the child is over the age of fourteen (14), the child must either consent to the proposed adoption or be served with process.  After the petition is filed, process must be served on individuals who have not joined in the petition or consented to the proposed adoption.  If a proposed adoption is contested, a guardian ad litem is appointed to represent the child.  In the event that this is required, the expense will be taxed as a court cost.  After the petition is filed, a hearing occurs before the appropriate chancery court.  The purpose of the hearing is to determine whether the adoption promotes or enhances the best interest of the child.  Before a court is permitted to enter an order approving the proposed adoption, a home study is required if the petitioner is not a relative or stepparent of the subject child.  The goal of the home study is to “give the material facts upon which the court may determine whether the child is a proper subject for adoption, whether the petitioner or petitioners are suitable parents for the child, whether the adoption is to its best interest, and any other facts or circumstances that may be material to the proposed adoption.”  All expenses associated with the home study must be paid by the petitioner.  In order to warrant approval of a contested adoption, the court must find that at least one of the following grounds exists: (1) moral unfitness of the parent(s), or (2) desertion or abandonment of the child.   

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