2010 Wyoming Statutes
Title 1 - Code Of Civil Procedure
Chapter 22 - Adoption
CHAPTER 22 - ADOPTION
ARTICLE 1 - IN GENERAL
(a) As used in this act:
(i) "Agency" means any person legally empowered to place children for adoption or a certified private child welfare agency or the department of family services;
(ii) "Child" means the minor person to be adopted;
(iii) "Parent" means the child's father or mother whose parental rights have not been judicially terminated;
(iv) "Putative father" means the alleged or reputed father of a child born out of wedlock, whether or not the paternity rights and obligations of the father have been judicially determined;
(v) "This act" means W.S. 1-22-101 through 1-22-114.
1-22-102. Persons subject to adoption.
(a) Any child may be adopted who is within this state when the petition for adoption is filed.
(b) Any adult may be adopted, regardless of his residence within or outside of this state at the time the petition is filed, provided:
(i) The adopting parent was a stepparent, grandparent or other blood relative, foster parent or legal guardian who participated in the raising of the adult when the adult was a child; and
(ii) The adult files a consent to the adoption with the court.
1-22-103. Adopting parties.
Any adult person who has resided in this state during the sixty (60) days immediately preceding the filing of the petition for adoption and who is determined by the court to be fit and competent to be a parent may adopt in accordance with this act.
1-22-104. Petition for adoption of minor; by whom filed; requisites; confidential nature; inspection; separate journal to be kept.
(a) Adoption proceedings shall be commenced by a petition filed in district court. The district court may transfer jurisdiction of a petition to adopt a child to the juvenile court if the child proposed for adoption in the petition is under the prior and continuing jurisdiction of the juvenile court.
(b) A petition may be filed by any single adult or jointly by a husband and wife who maintain their home together, or by either the husband or wife if the other spouse is a parent of the child.
(c) The following documents shall be filed with every petition to adopt a child:
(i) The appropriate consent to adoption pursuant to W.S. 1-22-109;
(ii) Any relinquishments as provided by W.S. 1-22-109 necessary to show the court that the person or agency legally authorized to have custody and control of the child prior to the adoption, has duly relinquished the child to the petitioners for adoption;
(iii) A report of the medical examination of the child made by a licensed Wyoming physician within thirty (30) days immediately preceding the filing of the petition to adopt. The report shall be made on forms provided by the department of family services. A medical report shall not be required when a parent of the child joins in the petition to adopt or when the child resided with the adoptive parents for more than six (6) months prior to filing the petition;
(iv) An affidavit from each petitioner setting forth:
(A) Any previous or current diagnosed psychiatric disorders of the petitioner;
(B) All felony convictions of the petitioner within the preceding ten (10) years;
(C) All misdemeanor convictions of the petitioner within the preceding five (5) years;
(D) The current parole or probation status of the petitioner, if any.
(v) An affidavit stating the name or names of persons awarded visitation rights to the child under W.S. 20-7-101 or 20-7-102 or an affidavit stating that no visitation rights under W.S. 20-7-101 or 20-7-102 have been awarded in regard to the child.
(d) The petition and documents filed pursuant to this section, and the interlocutory decree, if entered, and the final decree of adoption shall constitute a confidential file and shall be available for inspection only to the judge, or, by order of court, to the parties to the proceedings or their attorneys. Upon the entry of the final decree of adoption, all records in the proceedings shall be sealed and may be available for inspection only by order of court for good cause shown. The clerk of court shall maintain a separate journal for adoption proceedings to be confidential and available for inspection only by order of the court for good cause shown. The court may order inspection of all or part of the confidential file in adoption proceedings only if it appears to the court that the welfare and best interests of the child will be served by the inspection.
(e) The court may order inspection of all or any part of the confidential file upon a proper motion made pursuant to W.S. 1-22-203(b). Any order permitting inspection under this subsection shall preserve the anonymity of the natural parents, the adoptive parents and the child and shall provide that the inspection is subject to the provisions of W.S. 1-22-203. Documents filed pursuant to W.S. 1-22-203(b) or this subsection shall become part of the confidential file.
(f) For purposes of this section, "convicted" includes pleas of guilty, nolo contendere, verdicts of guilty upon which a judgment of conviction may be rendered and dispositions pursuant to W.S. 7-13-301 and 35-7-1037.
1-22-105. Hearings to be closed; attendance of parties.
(a) Unless the court orders a hearing in open court, all hearings in adoption proceedings shall be confidential and held in closed court or court chambers. No person shall be admitted except court officials, parties to the proceeding, counsel, nonconsenting parents, the nonconsenting putative father of the child and witnesses.
(b) The petitioners and the child shall appear at the hearing unless excused by the court.
1-22-106. When petition to be filed; order for hearing.
A petition to adopt a child shall be filed upon the entry of the child in the adoptive home or as soon thereafter as is reasonably convenient. When a petition is filed and presented to the judge, he shall set the petition for hearing. Any person whose consent to adoption is required by W.S. 1-22-109 and whose consent has not been filed shall be ordered to appear on the day set and show cause why the petition to adopt should not be granted and a decree of adoption entered.
1-22-107. Service of petition and order; when service by publication permitted; exception.
(a) Prior to the hearing a copy of the petition to adopt a child and all orders to show cause shall be served on any persons whose consent to adoption is required by W.S. 1-22-109 and whose consent has not been filed with the petition to adopt. Service shall be made in the same manner as provided for by rule 4 of the Wyoming Rules of Civil Procedure and shall be accomplished so that a default judgment could be rendered at the hearing against the person served. Service by publication is specifically allowed where the defendant resides out of state, or his residence cannot, with reasonable diligence, be ascertained.
(b) The petition and orders to show cause need not be served upon parents or other persons whose rights to the child have been terminated in a prior judicial proceeding.
(c) Prior to the hearing a copy of the petition to adopt a child and an order to show cause shall be served on any persons awarded visitation rights to the child under W.S. 20-7-101 or 20-7-102. The consent of persons awarded visitation rights to the adoption is not required. However, the court may exercise its discretion to allow those persons an opportunity to be heard if the court finds it to be in the best interest and welfare of the child.
1-22-108. Hearing on petition and objections; findings by court; effect of default.
(a) When the persons required to be served as provided in W.S. 1-22-107 have been served personally or by publication and do not appear at the hearing, a default shall be entered against them and they shall be bound by the findings and judgment of the court.
(b) When any person whose consent is required objects to the petition to adopt, he shall at least five (5) days before the hearing file his objections and serve them on all parties to the proceedings, including any person whose consent has been filed.
(c) If the putative father files and serves his objections to the petition to adopt as provided in subsection (b) of this section, and appears at the hearing to acknowledge his paternity of the child, the court shall hear the evidence in support of the petition to adopt and in support of the objection to the petition and shall then determine whether:
(i) The putative father's claim to paternity of the child is established;
(ii) The putative father having knowledge of the birth or pending birth of the child has evidenced an interest in and responsibility for the child within thirty (30) days after receiving notice of the pending birth or birth of the child;
(iii) The putative father's objections to the petition to adopt are valid; and
(iv) The best interests and welfare of the child will be served by granting the putative father's claim to paternity or by allowing the petition to adopt.
(d) The putative father has no right to assert paternity in adoption, dependency or termination of parental rights proceedings unless he is known and identified by the mother or agency, or unless he has lived with or married the mother after the birth of the child and prior to the filing of the petition to adopt, and unless prior to the interlocutory hearing of the adoption proceedings, he has acknowledged the child as his own by affirmatively asserting paternity as provided in this section or registered as a putative father under W.S. 1-22-117.
(e) Based upon its determination and findings after a hearing, the court may enter its order or decree in accordance with W.S. 1-22-111.
1-22-109. Consent to adoption.
(a) A written relinquishment of custody of the child to be adopted and written consent to adoption shall be filed with the petition to adopt and shall be signed by:
(i) Both parents, if living; or
(ii) The surviving parent; or
(iii) The mother and putative father of the child if the name of the putative father is known; or
(iv) The mother alone if she does not know the name of the putative father, in which case she shall sign and file an affidavit so stating and the court shall determine whether the putative father has registered under W.S. 1-22-117 and if so, shall require notice to be given to the putative father; or
(v) The legal guardian of the person of the child if neither parent is living or if parental rights have been judicially terminated; or
(vi) The executive head of the agency to whom the child has been relinquished for adoption; or
(vii) The person having exclusive legal custody of the child by court order; or
(viii) The legally appointed guardian of any parent or putative father who has been adjudged mentally incompetent.
(b) If the child to be adopted is over the age of fourteen (14) years his written consent to adoption shall also be filed with the petition to adopt.
(c) The consent to adoption shall be signed any time after the birth of the child. The consent shall be acknowledged or may be approved in the following manner:
(i) The consent shall be acknowledged by a:
(A) Person authorized to take acknowledgments;
(B) Representative of the department of family services; or
(C) Representative of a certified agency to whom the custody of the child is being relinquished for adoption.
(ii) If not acknowledged as provided in paragraph (i) of this subsection, the consent to adoption may be approved by the court after:
(A) The person giving the consent has appeared before the court in an informal hearing in court chambers; and
(B) The court finds that the consent is knowingly and voluntarily given.
(d) Consent to adoption and the relinquishment of a child for adoption are irrevocable unless obtained by fraud or duress, except that if the court should deny the adoption on account of a claim or objection of the putative father of the child, the court may also allow the mother of the child to withdraw her consent and relinquishment. The consent or relinquishment by a parent who is a minor is valid and may not be revoked solely because of minority.
(e) The consent to adoption and the relinquishment of custody of a child for adoption may be contained in a single instrument.
1-22-110. When adoption permitted without consent.
(a) In addition to the exceptions contained in W.S. 1-22-108, the adoption of a child may be ordered without the written consent of a parent or the putative father if the court finds that the nonconsenting parent or putative father is unknown and that the putative father has not registered under W.S. 1-22-117 and the affidavit required by W.S. 1-22-109(a)(iv) has been filed with the petition to adopt or if the court finds that the putative father or the nonconsenting parent or parents have:
(i) Been given notice of the hearing as provided in W.S. 1-22-107 and has failed to answer or appear at the hearing; or
(ii) Been judicially deprived of parental rights of the child for any reason; or
(iii) Willfully abandoned or deserted the child; or
(iv) Willfully failed to contribute to the support of the child for a period of one (1) year immediately prior to the filing of the petition to adopt and has failed to bring the support obligation current within sixty (60) days after service of the petition to adopt; or
(v) Willfully permitted the child to be maintained in or by a public or private institution or by the department of family services for a period of one (1) year immediately prior to the filing of the petition without substantially contributing to the support of the child; or
(vi) Failed, within thirty (30) days after receiving notice of the pending birth or birth of the child, to advise or notify the agency which gave the putative father the notice of pending birth or birth of his interest in or responsibility for the child or his declaration of paternity; or
(vii) Been adjudged by a court to be guilty of cruelty, abuse, neglect or mistreatment of the child; or
(viii) Caused the conception of the child born out of wedlock as a result of sexual assault or incest for which he has been convicted; or
(ix) Willfully failed to pay a total dollar amount of at least seventy percent (70%) of the court ordered support for a period of two (2) years or more and has failed to bring the support obligation one hundred percent (100%) current within sixty (60) days after service of the petition to adopt.
(b) Any petition filed pursuant to paragraphs (a)(iv) or (ix) of this section shall contain a clear statement of the consequences of the respondent's failure to bring the support obligation current.
1-22-111. Decree; investigation; denial of adoption.
(a) After the petition to adopt has been filed and a hearing held the court acting in the best interest and welfare of the child may make any of the following orders:
(i) Enter an interlocutory decree of adoption giving the care and custody of the child to the petitioners pending further order of the court;
(ii) Defer entry of an interlocutory decree of adoption and order the department of family services or a private licensed agency to investigate and report to the court the background of the child and of the petitioners, and the medical, social and psychological background and status of the consenting parent and putative father. After a written report of the investigation is filed, the court shall determine if the adoption by petitioners is in the best interest and welfare of the child and thereupon enter the appropriate order or decree;
(iii) Enter a final decree of adoption if the child has resided in the home of the petitioner for six (6) months; or
(iv) Deny the adoption if the court finds that the best interests and welfare of the child will be served by such denial.
(b) If the court denies the adoption it shall make an order for proper custody consistent with the best interest and welfare of the child.
1-22-112. Application for final decree.
(a) If an interlocutory decree has been entered petitioners may apply for a final decree of adoption after the child has resided in the home of the petitioners for six (6) months and a hearing on the petition may be required.
(b) If an interlocutory decree has not been entered a hearing on the petition for a final decree of adoption shall be set as provided in W.S. 1-22-106, notice thereof shall be given as provided in W.S. 1-22-107 and a final hearing shall be had on the petition.
1-22-113. Petition for adoption of an adult; consent required.
When a petition to adopt an adult is filed a copy of the petition together with a summons issued as in other civil actions shall be served on the adult. If the adult objects to adoption by the petitioner the petition shall be dismissed. When the consent of the adult is given, the petition shall be granted and a final decree of adoption made and entered. The decree may change the name of the adopted person.
1-22-114. Effect of adoption.
(a) Upon the entry of a final decree of adoption the former parent, guardian or putative father of the child shall have no right to the control or custody of the child. The adopting persons shall have all of the rights and obligations respecting the child as if they were natural parents.
(b) Adopted persons may assume the surname of the adoptive parent. They are entitled to the same rights of person and property as children and heirs at law of the persons who adopted them.
1-22-115. Subsidization of adoption; qualification for payments; authority to adopt rules and regulations.
(a) The department of family services may grant subsidy payments to the adoptive parent of a child or to another person on behalf of the child, if, at the time the child is placed for adoption:
(i) The child is in the legal custody of the department or a private child placement agency certified by the state and is legally available for adoption;
(ii) The department or a certified private child placement agency is financially responsible for the child;
(iii) Reasonable efforts to place the child for adoption prior to consideration of a subsidy payment have been unsuccessful;
(iv) The child has special needs as determined by the division; and
(v) The department or a certified private child placement agency has determined the adoptive parent can provide for the nonfinancial needs of the child.
(b) Subsidy payments under this section may provide for the cost of health, maintenance, medical and surgical treatment and costs incurred for the adoption, care, training and education of the child.
(c) The determination of an adoptive parent's eligibility for subsidy payments shall be made before the completion of the legal adoption of the child. All payments shall be reviewed not less than annually by the department. Subsidy payments may continue, subject to rules and regulations of the department, for any adoptive parent terminating Wyoming residency with the child in custody.
(d) The department of family services shall adopt a plan pursuant to P.L. 96-272 and rules and regulations necessary for the administration of this section.
(e) Subsidy payments made under this section shall:
(i) Not exceed the amount of payments for comparable assistance under foster care;
(ii) Be terminated or reduced if the need for payments has altered or no longer exists as determined by the department or if the child has reached the age of majority; and
(iii) Be made from funds appropriated to the department for foster care purposes.
(f) The department of family services may accept on behalf of the state any available federal funds for purposes consistent with this section. The department shall administer the funds in conformance with this section and the terms and conditions under which they are issued.
1-22-116. Medical history of natural parents and adoptive child.
To the extent available, the medical history of a child subject to adoption and his natural parents, with information identifying the natural parents eliminated, shall be provided by an authorized agency or may be provided by order of a court to the child's adoptive parent any time after the adoption decree or to the child after he attains the age of majority. The history shall include but not be limited to all available information regarding conditions or diseases believed to be hereditary, any drugs or medication taken during pregnancy by the child's natural mother and any other information which may be a factor influencing the child's present or future health. The department of family services shall promulgate rules governing the release of medical histories under this section.
1-22-117. Putative father registry.
(a) The department of family services shall establish a putative father registry which shall record the names and addresses of:
(i) Any person adjudicated by a court of this state to be the father of a child born out-of-wedlock;
(ii) Any person who has filed with the registry before or after the birth of a child out-of-wedlock, a notice of intent to claim paternity of the child;
(iii) Any person adjudicated by a court of another state or territory of the United States to be the father of an out-of-wedlock child, where a certified copy of the court order has been filed with the registry by that person or any other person; and
(iv) Any person who has filed with the registry an instrument acknowledging paternity.
(b) A person filing a notice of intent to claim paternity of a child or an acknowledgement of paternity shall include therein his current address and shall notify the registry of any change of address pursuant to procedures prescribed by regulations of the department.
(c) A person who has filed a notice of intent to claim paternity may at any time revoke a notice of intent to claim paternity previously filed therewith and, upon receipt of the notification by the registry, the revoked notice of intent to claim paternity shall be deemed a nullity nunc pro tunc.
(d) An unrevoked notice of intent to claim paternity of a child may be introduced in evidence by any party, other than the person who filed such notice, in any proceeding in which such fact may be relevant.
(e) The department of family services shall, upon request, provide the names and addresses of persons listed with the registry to any court or authorized agency, and such information shall not be divulged to any other person, except upon order of a court for good cause shown.
ARTICLE 2 - CONFIDENTIAL INTERMEDIARIES
(a) As used in this act:
(i) "Adoptee" means a person who, as a minor, was adopted pursuant to a final decree of adoption entered by a court;
(ii) "Adoptive parent" means an adult who has become a parent of a minor through the legal process of adoption;
(iii) "Adult" means a person eighteen (18) years of age or older;
(iv) "Biological grandparent" means a parent, by birth or adoption, of a biological parent;
(v) "Biological parent" means a parent, by birth, of an adopted person;
(vi) "Biological sibling" means a sibling, by birth, of an adopted person;
(vii) "Chief justice" means the chief justice of the Wyoming supreme court;
(viii) "Confidential intermediary" means a person twenty-one (21) years of age or older who has completed a training program for confidential intermediaries which meets the standards set forth by the commission pursuant to W.S. 1-22-202(b) and who is authorized to inspect confidential relinquishment and adoption records at the request of an adult adoptee, adoptive parent, biological parent, biological sibling or biological grandparent;
(ix) "Consent" means voluntary, informed, written consent. Consent always shall be preceded by an explanation that the consent permits the confidential intermediary to arrange a personal contact among biological relatives;
(x) "Court" means any court of record with jurisdiction over the matter at issue;
(xi) "This act" means W.S. 1-22-201 through 1-22-203.
1-22-202. Commission created; powers; duties.
(a) There is hereby created within the department of family services, an adoption intermediary commission of five (5) members. Representation and appointment of the members shall be as follows:
(i) One (1) member shall represent the judicial branch and shall be appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the chief justice;
(ii) One (1) member shall represent the department of family services and shall be appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the director of the department;
(iii) One (1) member shall represent private adoption agencies and shall be appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the director of the department of family services;
(iv) One (1) member shall represent programs which provide confidential intermediary services and shall be appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the director of the department of family services;
(v) One (1) member shall be an adult adoptee, adoptive parent or biological parent appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the director of the department of family services.
(b) The commission shall have the responsibility for:
(i) Drafting a manual of standards for training confidential intermediaries;
(ii) Monitoring confidential intermediary training programs to ensure compliance with the standards set forth in the manual with authority to approve or deny such programs based upon compliance with such standards;
(iii) Maintaining an up-to-date list of persons who have completed training as confidential intermediaries and communicating that list to the judicial branch.
(c) The commission shall adopt rules for its own procedure. The commission shall select a chairman, a vice-chairman, and such other officers as it deems necessary, and shall keep a record of its proceedings. The commission shall meet as often as necessary to carry out its duties, but in no instance shall it meet less than semiannually. The commission may seek input from confidential intermediary organizations in carrying out its duties.
(d) The commission shall be voluntary and no state funds or personnel, except members of the commission appointed pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, shall be used in its operation. The commission may accept gifts and grants and expend funds received to carry out its duties.
1-22-203. Confidential intermediaries; confidential intermediary services.
(a) Any person who has completed a confidential intermediary training program which meets the standards set forth by the commission shall be responsible for notifying the commission that his name should be included on the list of confidential intermediaries to be maintained by the commission and made available to the judicial branch. The commission's rules shall specify when and under what conditions the name of a confidential intermediary shall be removed from the list available to the judicial branch. Once a person is included on such list, he shall be:
(i) Authorized to inspect confidential relinquishment and adoption records, as ordered by the court, upon motion to the court by an adult adoptee, adoptive parent, biological parent, biological sibling or biological grandparent;
(ii) Available, subject to time constraints, for appointment by the court to act as a confidential intermediary for an adult adoptee, adoptive parent, biological parent, biological sibling or biological grandparent.
(b) Any adult adoptee, adoptive parent, biological parent, biological sibling or biological grandparent who is eighteen (18) years of age or older may file a motion, with supporting affidavit, in the court where the adoption took place or in the court in which parental rights were terminated pursuant to W.S. 14-2-308 through 14-2-319, to appoint one (1) or more confidential intermediaries for the purpose of determining the whereabouts of the unknown biological relative or relatives, except that no one shall seek to determine the whereabouts of a relative who is a minor. The court may rule on the motion and affidavit without hearing and may appoint a confidential intermediary. Costs related to the proceeding and investigation shall be the responsibility of the party filing the motion for appointment and investigation.
(c) Any information obtained by the confidential intermediary during the course of his investigation shall be kept strictly confidential and shall be utilized only for the purpose of arranging a contact between the individual who initiated the search and the sought-after biological relative.
(d) When a sought-after biological relative is located by a confidential intermediary on behalf of the individual who initiated the search:
(i) Contact shall be made between the parties involved in the investigation only when written consent for such contact has been obtained from both parties and filed with the court;
(ii) If consent for personal communication is not obtained from both parties, all relinquishment and adoption records and any information obtained by any confidential intermediary during the course of his investigation shall be returned to the court and shall remain confidential.
(e) Any person acting as a confidential intermediary who knowingly fails to comply with the provisions of subsections (c) and (d) of this section shall be subject to citation and punishment for contempt as provided by Rule 42, Wyoming Rules of Criminal Procedure.
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