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Child Adoption Laws
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Child Adoption Laws
Mississippi


We hope to help you learn more about the child adoption laws in the State of Mississippi  Please note that while we have tried to be as current as possible, laws are occasionally rewritten and/or amended; accordingly, the Mississippi adoption law provided below may have errors, omissions, or may not be the most current version. Please remember that this information should not be used as the basis for making any legal decision. Please use appropriate resources and an attorney's advice when making legal decisions.

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Mississippi State Statutes

Mississippi Adoption Statute and Law
Title 93:
Chapter 17:
Sections 1- 31, 51-69,101-109, 201-223

(This page was last updated on 09/10/13.)

 

93-17-1. Jurisdiction to alter names and legitimate offspring; legitimation by subsequent marriage.

93-17-3. Who may be adopted; who may adopt; venue of adoption proceedings; certificate of child's condition; change of name; adoption by couples of same gender prohibited.

93-17-5. Parties to adoption proceeding; consent of child; unmarried father's rights.

93-17-6. Petition for determination of rights in proposed adoption of natural child.

93-17-7. Parental objection; causes for termination of unfit parents' rights.

93-17-8. Contested adoptions.

93-17-9. Surrender of child to a home for care and adoption.

93-17-11. Investigation; interlocutory decree; appeal.

93-17-12. Authority of court to impose fee for court-ordered home study relating to child custody matters.

93-17-13. Final decree and effect thereof.

93-17-15. Limitation on action to set aside final decree.

93-17-17. Grounds for setting aside proceedings limited.

93-17-19. Costs.

93-17-21. Revised birth certificate.

93-17-23. Re-adoption.

93-17-25. Proceedings and records confidential; use in court or administrative proceedings.

93-17-27. References to marital status of natural parents prohibited.

93-17-29. References to parents and child in docket entries and decrees.

93-17-31. Clerks to keep separate index, docket and minute books.

ADOPTION SUPPLEMENTAL BENEFITS LAW.

93-17-51. Short title.

93-17-53. Purpose.

93-17-55. Definitions.

93-17-57. Supplemental benefits program; funding.

93-17-59. Eligibility.

93-17-61. Agreement with department of public welfare; commencement of benefits; duration; certification of need.

93-17-63. Confidentiality.

93-17-65. Promulgation of rules and regulations.

93-17-67. Continuation of benefits.

93-17-69. Representation by Department of Public Welfare of persons proposing to adopt child who is dependent of state child-placing agency.

INTERSTATE AGREEMENTS FOR PROTECTION OF CHILDREN BEING PROVIDED ADOPTION ASSISTANCE.

93-17-101. Legislative findings; purpose.

93-17-103. Development of interstate compacts; authority of Department of Public Welfare; definitions.

93-17-105. Interstate compacts; requirements.

93-17-107. Medicaid eligibility; medical assistance identification; penalties for false statement or claim; applicability.

93-17-109. Inclusion of federal aid in certain state plans.

MISSISSIPPI ADOPTION CONFIDENTIALITY ACT.

93-17-201. Short title.

93-17-203. Definitions.

93-17-205. Centralized adoption records file established; contents; filing of supplemental information; authorization to release birth parent's identity; notification of genetic illness.

93-17-207. Release of nonidentifying information; persons eligible to receive; fee.

93-17-209. Search for birth parents by agency to obtain medical, social, or genetic information; fee.

93-17-211. Civil and criminal immunity for persons acting under Adoption Confidentiality Act.

93-17-213. Promulgation of rules and regulations; fees.

93-17-215. Request by adoptee for identifying information.

93-17-217. Identification and counseling of requesting adoptee; release of information by bureau.

93-17-219. Search for birth parent; when permitted; fee; agency contact with birth parent; release of information to adoptee.

93-17-221. Petition in chancery court for disclosure of identifying information.

93-17-223. One birth parent prohibited from divulging identity of other parent.

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§ 93-17-1. Jurisdiction to alter names and legitimate offspring; legitimation by subsequent marriage.

(1) The chancery court or the chancellor in vacation, of the county of the residence of the petitioners shall have jurisdiction upon the petition of any person to alter the names of such person, to make legitimate any living offspring of the petitioner not born in wedlock, and to decree said offspring to be an heir of the petitioner.

(2) An illegitimate child shall become a legitimate child of the natural father if the natural father marries the natural mother and acknowledges the child.

§ 93-17-3. Who may be adopted; who may adopt; venue of adoption proceedings; certificate of child's condition; change of name; adoption by couples of same gender prohibited.

(1) Any person may be adopted in accordance with the provisions of this chapter in term time or in vacation by an unmarried adult or by a married person whose spouse joins in the petition, provided that the petitioner or petitioners have resided in this state for ninety (90) days preceding the filing of the petition. However, if the petitioner or petitioners, or one (1) of them, are related to the child within the third degree according to civil law, or if the adoption is presented to the court by an adoption agency licensed by the State of Mississippi, the residence restriction shall not apply. The adoption shall be by sworn petition filed in the chancery court of the county in which the adopting petitioner or petitioners reside or in which the child to be adopted resides or was born, or was found when it was abandoned or deserted, or in which the home is located to which the child has been surrendered by a person authorized to so do. The petition shall be accompanied by a doctor's or nurse practitioner's certificate showing the physical and mental condition of the child to be adopted and a sworn statement of all property, if any, owned by the child. If the doctor's or nurse practitioner's certificate indicate s any abnormal mental or physical condition or defect, the condition or defect shall not in the discretion of the chancellor bar the adoption of the child if the adopting parent or parents file an affidavit stating full and complete knowledge of the condition or defect and stating a desire to adopt the child, notwithstanding the condition or defect. The court shall have the power to change the name of the child as a part of the adoption proceedings. The word "child" herein shall be construed to refer to the person to be adopted, though an adult.

(2) Adoption by couples of the same gender is prohibited.

§ 93-17-5. Parties to adoption proceeding; consent of child.

(1) There shall be made parties to the proceeding by process or by the filing therein of a consent to the adoption proposed in the petition, which consent shall be duly sworn to or acknowledged and executed only by the following persons, but not before seventy-two (72) hours after the birth of said child: (a) the parents, or parent, if only one (1) parent, though either be under the age of twenty-one (21) years; or, (b) in the event both parents are dead, then any two (2) adult kin of the child within the third degree computed according to the civil law, provided that, if one of such kin is in possession of the child, he or she shall join in the petition or be made a party to the suit; or, (c) the guardian ad litem of an abandoned child, upon petition showing that the names of the parents of such child are unknown after diligent search and inquiry by the petitioners. In addition to the above, there shall be made parties to any proceeding to adopt a child, either by process or by the filing of a consent to the adoption proposed in the petition, the following:

(i) Those persons having physical custody of such child, except persons having such child as foster parents as a result of placement with them by the Department of Human Services of the State of Mississippi.

(ii) Any person to whom custody of such child may have been awarded by a court of competent jurisdiction of the State of Mississippi.

(iii) The agent of the county Department of Human Services of the State of Mississippi that has placed a child in foster care, either by agreement or by court order.

(2) Such consent may also be executed and filed by the duly authorized officer or representative of a home to whose care the child has been delivered. The child shall join the petition by its next friend.

(3) In the case of a child born out of wedlock, the father shall not have a right to object to an adoption unless he has demonstrated, within the period ending thirty (30) days after the birth of the child, a full commitment to the responsibilities of parenthood. Determination of the rights of the father of a child born out of wedlock may be made in proceedings pursuant to a petition for determination of rights as provided in Section 93-17-6.

(4) If such consent be not filed, then process shall be had upon the parties as provided by law for process in person or by publication, if they be nonresidents of the state or are not found therein, after diligent search and inquiry, or are unknown after diligent search and inquiry; provided that the court or chancellor in vacation may fix a date in termtime or in vacation to which process may be returnable and shall have power to proceed in termtime or vacation. In any event, if the child is more than fourteen (14) years of age, a consent to the adoption, sworn to or acknowledged by the child, shall also be required or personal service of process shall be had upon the child in the same manner and in the same effect as if it were an adult.

§ 93-17-6. Repealed.

§ 93-17-7. Parental objection; causes for termination of unfit parents' rights.

(1) No infant shall be adopted to any person if either parent, after having been summoned, shall appear and object thereto before the making of a decree for adoption, unless it shall be made to appear to the court from evidence touching such matters that the parent so objecting had abandoned or deserted such infant or is mentally, or morally, or otherwise unfit to rear and train it, including, but not limited to, those matters set out in subsection (2) of this section, in either of which cases the adoption may be decreed notwithstanding the objection of such parent, first considering the welfare of the child, or children sought to be adopted. Provided, however, the parents shall not be summoned in the adoption proceedings nor have the right to object thereto if the parental rights of the parent or parents have been terminated by the procedure set forth in Sections 93-15-101 through 93-15-111, and such termination shall be res judicata on the question of parental abandonment or unfitness in the adoption proceedings.

§ 93-17-8. Contested adoptions.

(1) Whenever an adoption becomes a contested matter, whether after a hearing on a petition for determination of rights under Section 93-17-6 or otherwise, the court:

(a) Shall, on motion of any party or on its own motion, issue an order for immediate blood or tissue sampling in accordance with the provisions of Section 93-9-21 et seq., if paternity is at issue. The court shall order an expedited report of such testing and shall hold the hearing resolving this matter at the earliest time possible.

(b) Shall appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the child. Such guardian ad litem shall be an attorney, however his duties are as guardian ad litem and not as attorney for the child. The reasonable costs of the guardian ad litem shall be taxed as costs of court. Neither the child nor anyone purporting to act on his behalf may waive the appointment of a guardian ad litem.

(c) Shall determine first whether or not the objecting parent is entitled to so object under the criteria of Section 93-17-7 and then shall determine the custody of the child in accord with the best interests of the child and the rights of the parties as established by the hearings and judgments.

(d) Shall schedule all hearings concerning the contested adoption as expeditiously as possible for prompt conclusion of the matter.

(2) In determining the custody of the child after a finding that the adoption will not be granted, the fact of the surrender of the child for adoption by a parent shall not be taken as any evidence of that parent's abandonment or desertion of the child or of that parent's unfitness as a parent.

(3) In contested adoptions arising through petitions for determination of rights where the prospective adopting parents were not parties to that proceeding, they need not be made parties to the contested adoption until there has been a ruling that the objecting parent is not entitled to enter a valid objection to the adoption. At that point the prospective adopting parents shall be made parties by joinder which shall show their suitability to be adopting parents as would a petition for adoption. The identity and suitability of the prospective adopting parents shall be made known to the court and the guardian ad litem, but shall not be made known to other parties to the proceeding unless the court determines that the interests of justice or the best interests of the child require it.

(4) No birth parent or alleged parent shall be permitted to contradict statements given in a proceeding for the adoption of their child in any other proceeding concerning that child or his ancestry.

(5) Appointment of a guardian ad litem is not required in any proceeding under this chapter except as provided in subsection (1)(b) above and except for the guardian ad litem needed for an abandoned child. It shall not be necessary for a guardian ad litem to be appointed where the chancery judge presiding in the adoption proceeding deems it unnecessary and no adoption agency is involved in the proceeding. No final decree of adoption heretofore granted shall be set aside or modified because a guardian ad litem was not appointed unless as the result of a direct appeal not now barred.

(6) The provisions of Chapter 15 of this Title 93, Mississippi Code of 1972, are not applicable to proceedings under this chapter except as specifically provided by reference herein.

(7) The court may order a child's birth father, identified as such in the proceedings, to reimburse the Department of Human Services, the foster parents, the adopting parents, the home, any other agency or person who has assumed liability for such child, all or part of the costs of the medical expenses incurred for the mother and the child in connection with the birth of the child, as well as reasonable support for the child after his birth.

Sources: Laws, 1998, ch. 516, § 16, eff from and after July 1, 1998.

§ 93-17-9. Surrender of child to a home for care and adoption.

As used in this chapter the word "home" shall be construed to include any charitable or religious corporation or organization or the superintendent or head of such charitable or religious corporation or organization organized under the laws of the State of Mississippi, or any public authority to which has been granted the power to provide care for or procure the adoption of children by any statute or statutes of this state, and any association or institution engaged in placing children for adoption on July 1, 1955. Any person required to be a party to an adoption proceeding by Section 93-17-5 may execute the surrender of a child to a home by sworn or acknowledged instrument which shall include the following: the name of the child and the home; that there is thereby vested in the home the exclusive custody, care and control of such child; that all parental rights to such child including the right of inheritance are relinquished by such person; provided, the rights of inheritance of the natural parents and the child shall not be affected until entry of a final decree of adoption; that the home is authorized to execute a consent to adoption as provided by this chapter and that process in any adoption proceeding is waived; that such surrender shall be irrevocable and that such person will not, in any manner, interfere with the custody of such child thus vested in the home. Said instrument shall not be executed until seventy-two (72) hours after the birth of the child and shall effectually vest in the home all rights thus surrendered and all powers thus created, with the right and power to execute the consent to adoption as required in this chapter authorizing the court to vest in the child and the adopting parent or parents the rights herein provided.

Where a child has been surrendered to a home or other agency operating under the laws of another state, and the child is delivered into the custody of a petitioner or home within this state, the execution of such consent by such nonresident home or agency shall be accepted in lieu of the execution of such consent by a home.

§ 93-17-11. Investigation; interlocutory decree; appeal.

At any time after the filing of the petition for adoption and completion of process thereon, and before the entering of a final decree, the court may, in its discretion, of its own motion, or on motion of any party to the proceeding, require an investigation, including, but not limited to, a home study by a duly qualified licensed person at the petitioner's or petitioners' sole expense and at no cost to the state or county, and report to the court to be made by any person, officer, or home as the court may designate and direct concerning the child, giving the material facts upon which the court may determine whether the child is a proper subject for adoption, whether the petitioners or petitioner 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. The court, when an investigation and report are required by the court or by this section, shall stay the proceedings in the cause for such reasonable time as may be necessary or required in the opinion of the court for the completion of the investigation and report by the person, officer, or home designated and authorized to make the same.

Upon the filing of that consent or the completion of the process and the filing of the investigation and report, if required by the court or by this section, and the presentation of such other evidence as may be desired by the court, if the court determines that it is to the best interests of the child that an interlocutory decree of adoption be entered, the court may thereupon enter an interlocutory decree upon such terms and conditions as may be determined by the court, in its discretion, but including therein that the complete care, custody and control of the child shall be vested in the petitioner or petitioners until further orders of the court and that during such time the child shall be and remain a ward of the court. If the court determines by decree at any time during the pendency of the proceeding that it is not to the best interests of the child that the adoption proceed, the petitioners shall be entitled to at least five (5) days' notice upon their attorneys of record and a hearing with the right of appeal as provided by law from a dismissal of the petition; however, the bond perfecting the appeal shall be filed within ten (10) days from the entry of the decree of dismissal and the bond shall be in such amount as the chancellor may determine and supersedeas may be granted by the chancellor or as otherwise provided by law for appeal from final decrees.

After the entry of the interlocutory decree and before entry of the final decree, the court may require such further and additional investigation and reports as it may deem proper. The rights of the parties filing the consent or served with process shall be subject to the decree but shall not be divested until entry of the final decree.

§ 93-17-12. Authority of court to impose fee for court-ordered home study relating to child custody matters.

In any child custody matter hereafter filed in any chancery or county court in which temporary or permanent custody has already been placed with a parent or guardian, the court shall impose a fee for any court-ordered home study performed by the Department of Human Services. The fee shall be assessed upon either party or upon both parties in the court's discretion. The minimum fee imposed shall be not less than Three Hundred Fifty Dollars ($350.00) for each household on which a home study is performed. The fee shall be paid directly to the Mississippi Department of Human Services prior to the home study being conducted by the department. The judge may order the fee be paid by one or both of the parents or guardian. If the court determines that both parents or the guardian are unable to pay the fee, the judge shall waive the fee and the cost of the home study shall be defrayed by the Department of Human Services.

§ 93-17-13. Final decree and effect thereof.

A final decree of adoption shall not be entered before the expiration of six (6) months from the entry of the interlocutory decree except (a) when a child is a stepchild of a petitioner or is related by blood to the petitioner within the third degree according to the rules of the civil law or in any case in which the chancellor in the exercise of his discretion shall determine from all the proceedings and evidence in said cause that the six-month waiting period is not necessary or required for the benefit of the court, the petitioners or the child to be adopted, and shall so adjudicate in the decree entered in said cause, in either of which cases the final decree may be entered immediately without any delay and without an interlocutory decree, or (b) when the child has resided in the home of any petitioner prior to the granting of the interlocutory decree, in which case the court may, in its discretion, shorten the waiting period by the length of time the child has thus resided.

The final decree shall adjudicate, in addition to such other provisions as may be found by the court to be proper for the protection of the interests of the child; and its effect, unless otherwise specifically provided, shall be that (a) the child shall inherit from and through the adopting parents and shall likewise inherit from the other children of the adopting parents to the same extent and under the same conditions as provided for the inheritance between brothers and sisters of the full blood by the laws of descent and distribution of the State of Mississippi, and that the adopting parents and their other children shall inherit from the child, just as if such child had been born to the adopting parents in lawful wedlock; (b) the child and the adopting parents and adoptive kindred are vested with all of the rights, powers, duties and obligations, respectively, as if such child had been born to the adopting parents in lawful wedlock, including all rights existing by virtue of Section 11-7-13, Mississippi Code of 1972; provided, however, that inheritance by or from the adopted child shall be governed by subsection (a) above; (c) that the name of the child shall be changed if desired; and (d) that the natural parents and natural kindred of the child shall not inherit by or through the child except as to a natural parent who is the spouse of the adopting parent, and all parental rights of the natural parent, or parents, shall be terminated, except as to a natural parent who is the spouse of the adopting parent. Nothing in this chapter shall restrict the right of any person to dispose of property under a last will and testament.

§ 93-17-15. Limitation on action to set aside final decree.

No action shall be brought to set aside any final decree of adoption, whether granted upon consent or personal process or on process by publication, except within six (6) months of the entry thereof.

§ 93-17-17. Grounds for setting aside proceedings limited.

For all purposes of this chapter, the chancery court shall be a court of general jurisdiction and it is declared to be the public policy of the state that no adoption proceedings shall be permitted to be set aside except for jurisdictional defects and for failure to file and prosecute the same under the provisions of this chapter.

§ 93-17-19. Costs.

All costs of the proceeding shall be taxed in the manner that the court may direct, including a reasonable fee as determined, approved, and allowed by the court to be paid for each investigation that may be authorized or required by the chancellor, other than for an investigation and report by a public authority or agency, in which event no such fee shall be allowed.

§ 93-17-21. Revised birth certificate.

(1) A certified copy of the final decree shall be furnished to the Bureau of Vital Statistics, together with a certificate signed by the clerk giving the true or original name and the place and date of birth of the child. The said bureau shall prepare a revised birth certificate which shall contain the original date of birth, with the place of birth being shown as the residence of the adoptive parents at the time the child was born, but with the names of the adopting parents and the new name of the child. In all other particulars, the certificate shall show the true facts of birth. The fact that a revised birth certificate is issued shall be indicated only by code numbers or some letter inconspicuously placed on the face of the certificate. The word "revised" shall not appear thereon. However, in the event an unmarried adult shall be the adopting parent, then such birth certificate may show thereon, upon order of the chancellor as set forth in the decree of adoption, that same is a revised birth certificate, giving the court where said decree was issued and the date of such decree. The original birth certificate shall be removed and placed, with reference made to the decree of adoption, in a safely locked drawer or vault, and the same shall not be public records and shall not be divulged except upon the order of the court rendering the said final decree or pursuant to Sections 93-17-201 through 93-17-223, and for all purposes the revised certificate shall be and become the birth certificate of the child. However, the Bureau of Vital Statistics of the State of Mississippi shall be required to prepare and register revised certificates only for births which occurred in the State of Mississippi as shown either by the court decree or by the original birth record on file in the bureau; but if the birth occurred in some other state, then the Director of the Bureau of Vital Statistics of the State of Mississippi shall be required to furnish to the attorney or other person representing the adopted child the name and address of the proper official in the state where the child was born, to whom the adoption decree and other information may be referred for appropriate action, and shall furnish to such attorney the certified copy of the decree and the certificate furnished by the clerk.

(2) Provided, however, notwithstanding anything herein to the contrary, either an original or a revised birth certificate may be issued, as hereinafter provided, by the Bureau of Vital Statistics to any child who was born outside the United States or its possessions and adopted, either heretofore or hereafter, by an order of a court in this state. Upon presentation of a certified copy of the final decree of adoption containing the required information, the Director of the Bureau of Vital Statistics shall be authorized and directed to receive said certified copy of the decree of adoption and prepare therefrom, and record, a birth certificate which shall disclose the following information: The name of the child (being the adopted name), race, sex, date of birth, place of birth (being the actual town, district and county of said child's birth, except where the child is born in a penal or mental institution where the name of the county shall be sufficient), names, race, ages, places of birth and occupation of parents (being the adoptive parents) including the maiden name of the adoptive mother. Such certificate shall comport in appearance and indicia with the foregoing requirements for a "revised" certificate issued to a child born in this state. The Director of the Bureau of Vital Statistics shall be authorized and directed to issue certified copies thereof, the same as if the birth certificate were that of a child who had never been adopted.

§ 93-17-23. Re-adoption.

Any child heretofore adopted under the laws of the State of Mississippi and any child who may have been adopted under the provisions of this chapter, may be re-adopted under the provisions hereof. If any such prior adoption is valid, and the re-adoption proceedings be instituted by the persons who previously adopted the child, there shall be no waiting period and no investigation and no interlocutory decree, and a final decree of adoption may be granted by the court ex parte if it be to the best interest of the child that it be re-adopted. If the re-adoption be by any person who was not a petitioner in the prior adoption or adoptions, then in such re-adoption proceedings, the persons who previously adopted the child shall be substituted in the place and stead of the natural parent and the same procedure shall be followed as if such child sought to be re-adopted was being for the first time adopted under the provisions of this chapter.

§ 93-17-25. Proceedings and records confidential; use in court or administrative proceedings.

All proceedings under this chapter shall be confidential and shall be held in closed court without admittance of any person other than the interested parties, except upon order of the court. All pleadings, reports, files and records pertaining to adopting proceedings shall be confidential and shall not be public records and shall be withheld from inspection or examination by any person, except upon order of the court in which the proceeding was had on good cause shown.

Upon motion of any interested person, the files of adoption proceedings, heretofore had may be placed in the confidential files upon order of the court or chancellor and shall be subject to the provisions of this chapter.

Provided, however, that notwithstanding the confidential nature of said proceedings, said record shall be available for use in any court or administrative proceedings under a subpoena duces tecum addressed to the custodian of said records and portions of such record may be released pursuant to Sections 93-17-201 through 93-17-223.

§ 93-17-27. References to marital status of natural parents prohibited.

No reference shall be required to be made to the marital status of the natural parents of the child nor shall any allegation or recital be made therein that the child was born out of wedlock in any petition filed or decree entered upon consent.

§ 93-17-29. References to parents and child in docket entries and decrees.

The docket entries and decrees spread upon the minutes of the court shall not refer to names of the natural parent or parents nor to the original name of the child. In the decree reference to the child shall be by the name to be conferred upon it by the court rather than by its original name if the name of the child is to be changed. The style of the cause and the docket entry thereof shall recite only the names of the petitioners and that the case is for the adoption of a child described in the petition.

§ 93-17-31. Clerks to keep separate index, docket and minute books.

The several chancery clerks shall obtain and keep a separate, confidential index showing the true name of the child adopted, the true name of its natural parent, or parents, if known, and the true name of the persons adopting the child and the date of the decree of adoption, and the name under which the child was adopted, or the name given the child by the adoption proceedings and a cross index shall be kept showing the said true name and the name given the child in the adoption decree, and which index shall be subject to the provisions of Section 93-17-25 as to same being kept in confidence and such index shall not be examined by any person, except officers of the court including attorneys, except upon order of the court, on good cause shown, in which the proceeding was had. The reports shall be filed only if so ordered by the chancellor. The several chancery clerks shall obtain and keep a separate docket and minute book of convenient size which shall be subject to provisions of Sections 93-17-25 through 93-17-31 and in which, from July 1, 1955, all entries concerning adoption shall be made.


ADOPTION SUPPLEMENTAL BENEFITS LAW
93-17-51. Short title.

Sections 93-17-51 through 93-17-67 shall be known and may be cited as the "Mississippi Adoption Supplemental Benefits Law of 1979."

§ 93-17-53. Purpose.

The purpose of Sections 93-17-51 through 93-17-67 is to supplement the Mississippi adoption law by making possible through public supplemental benefits the most appropriate adoption of each child certified by the state department of public welfare as requiring a supplemental benefit to assure adoption.

§ 93-17-55. Definitions.

As used in Sections 93-17-51 through 93-17-67, the word "child" shall mean a minor as defined by Mississippi law who is:

(a) a dependent of a public or voluntary licensed child-placing agency;

(b) legally free for adoption; and

(c) in special circumstances whether:

(i) because he has established significant emotional ties with prospective adoptive parents while in their care as a foster child and it is deemed in the best interest of the child by the agency to be adopted by the foster parents, or

(ii) because he is not likely to be adopted because of one (1) or more of the following handicaps: (A) severe physical or mental disability, (B) severe emotional disturbance, (C) recognized high risk of physical or mental disease, or (D) any combination of these handicaps.

§ 93-17-57. Supplemental benefits program; funding.

The state department of public welfare shall establish and administer an on-going program of supplemental benefits for adoption. Supplemental benefits and services for children under this program shall be provided out of such funds as may be appropriated to the Mississippi Medicaid Commission for the medical services for children in foster care, or made available to the department from other sources.

§ 93-17-59. Eligibility.

Any child meeting criteria specified in Section 93-17-55 for whom the state department of public welfare feels supplemental benefits are necessary to improve opportunities for adoption will be eligible for the program. The adoption agency shall document that reasonable efforts have been made to place the child in adoption without supplemental benefits through the use of adoption resource exchanges, recruitment and referral to appropriate specialized adoption agencies.

§ 93-17-61. Agreement with department of public welfare; commencement of benefits; duration; certification of need.

(1) When parents are found and approved for adoption of a child certified as eligible for supplemental benefits, and before the final decree of adoption is issued, there shall be executed a written agreement between the family entering into the adoption and the state department of public welfare. In individual cases, supplemental benefits may commence with the adoptive placement or at the appropriate time after the adoption decree and will vary with the needs of the child as well as the availability of other resources to meet the child's needs. The supplemental benefits may be for special services only or for money payments as allowed under Section 43-13-115, Mississippi Code of 1972, and either for a limited period, for a long term or for any combination of the foregoing. The amount of the time-limited, long-term supplemental benefits may in no case exceed that which would be currently allowable for such child under the Mississippi Medicaid Law.

(2) When supplemental benefits last for more than one (1) year, the adoptive parents shall present an annual written certification that the child remains under the parents' care and that the child's need for supplemental benefits continues. Based on such written certification and investigation by the agency and available funds, the agency may approve continued supplemental benefits. These benefits shall be extended so long as the continuing need of the child is certified and the child is the legal dependent of the adoptive parents.

(3) A child who is a resident of Mississippi when eligibility for supplemental benefits is certified shall remain eligible and receive supplemental benefits, if necessary for adoption, regardless of the domicile or residence of the adopting parents at the time of application for adoption, placement, legal decree of adoption or thereafter.

§ 93-17-63. Confidentiality.

All records regarding such adoption shall be confidential. Anyone violating or releasing information of a confidential nature, as contemplated by Sections 93-17-51 through 93-17-67 without the approval of the court with jurisdiction or the State Department of Public Welfare unless such release is made pursuant to Sections 93-17-201 through 93-17-223 shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to a fine not exceeding One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) or imprisonment of six (6) months, or both.

§ 93-17-65. Promulgation of rules and regulations.

The state department of public welfare shall promulgate rules and regulations necessary to implement the provisions of Sections 93-17-51 through 93-17-67.

§ 93-17-67. Continuation of benefits.

(1) Any child who is adopted in this state through a state-supported adoption agency and who immediately prior to such adoption was receiving medicaid benefits because of a severe physical or mental handicap shall continue to receive such payment benefits after adoption, and such benefits shall be payable as provided under the agency's medical payment program for so long as the state department of public welfare determines that the treatment or rehabilitation for which payment is being made is in the best interest of the child concerned or until such child reaches the age of twenty-one (21) years, provided that federal matching funds are available for such payment and that any state funds used for such payment shall have been appropriated specifically for such purpose.

(2) If permitted by federal law without any loss to the state of federal matching funds, the financial resources of the adopting parents shall not be a factor in such determination except that payments may be adjusted when insurance benefits available to the adopting parents would pay all or part of such payments being made by the state, or if medical or rehabilitation services are otherwise available without cost to the adopting parents. The amount of financial assistance given shall not exceed the amount that the medicaid commission would be required to pay for the same medical treatment or rehabilitation.

(3) The receipt of Medicaid benefits by an adopted child under Sections 93-17-51 through 93-17-67 shall not qualify the adopting parents for medicaid eligibility, unless either parent is otherwise eligible under Section 43-13-115, Mississippi Code of 1972.

§ 93-17-69. Representation by Department of Public Welfare of persons proposing to adopt child who is dependent of state child-placing agency.

Any person proposing to adopt a child who is a dependent of a state child-placing agency and who is in special circumstances as defined in paragraph (c) of Section 93-17-55 shall be represented by the State Department of Public Welfare when requested by the adopting parent in all phases of the adoption proceeding. State child-placing agencies shall advise prospective adopting parents of their right under this section to be represented in adoption proceedings. The fees for filing the petition for adoption and preparing a revised birth certificate, any court costs taxed against the petitioner and any other actual payments made by the Department of Public Welfare to third parties as required to complete the adoption proceeding, shall be paid by the adopting parent.


INTERSTATE AGREEMENTS FOR PROTECTION OF CHILDREN BEING PROVIDED ADOPTION ASSISTANCE

SEC. 93-17-101. Legislative findings; purpose.

(1) The Legislature finds that:

(a) Locating adoptive families for children for whom state assistance is desirable, pursuant to the Mississippi adoption assistance law, and assuring the protection of the interests of the children affected during the entire assistance period, require special measures when the adoptive parents move to other states or are residents of another state; and

(b) Providing medical and other necessary services for children, with state assistance, encounters special difficulties when the providing of services takes place in other states.

(2) The purposes of Sections 93-17-101 through 93-17-109 are to:

(a) Authorize the Mississippi Department of Public Welfare to enter into interstate agreements with agencies of other states for the protection of children on behalf of whom adoption assistance is being provided by the Mississippi Department of Public Welfare; and

(b) Provide procedures for interstate children's adoption assistance payments, including medical payments.

§ 93-17-103. Development of interstate compacts; authority of Department of Public Welfare; definitions.

(1) The Mississippi Department of Public Welfare is authorized to develop, participate in the development of, negotiate and enter into one or more interstate compacts on behalf of this state with other states to implement one or more of the purposes set forth in Sections 93-17-101 through 93-17-109. When so entered into, and for so long as it shall remain in force, such a compact shall have the force and effect of law.

(2) For the purposes of Sections 93-17-101 through 93-17-109, the term "state" shall mean a state of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or a territory or possession of or administered by the United States.

(3) For the purposes of Sections 93-17-101 through 93-17-109, the term "adoption assistance state" means the state that is signatory to an adoption assistance agreement in a particular case.

(4) For the purposes of Sections 93-17-101 through 93-17-109, the term "residence state" means the state of which the child is a resident by virtue of the residence of the adoptive parents.

§ 93-17-105. Interstate compacts; requirements.

A compact entered into pursuant to the authority conferred by Sections 93-17-101 through 93-17-109 shall contain the following:

(a) A provision making the compact available for joinder by all states;

(b) A provision or provisions for withdrawal from the compact upon written notice to the parties, but with a period of one (1) year between the date of the notice and the effective date of the withdrawal;

(c) A requirement that the protections afforded by or pursuant to the compact continue in force for the duration of the adoption assistance and be applicable to all children and their adoptive parents who on the effective date of the withdrawal are receiving adoption assistance from a party state other than the one in which they are resident and have their principal place of abode;

(d) A requirement that each instance of adoption assistance to which the compact applies be covered by an adoption assistance agreement in writing between the adoptive parents and the state child welfare agency of the state which undertakes to provide the adoption assistance, and further, that any such agreement be expressly for the benefit of the adopted child and enforceable by the adoptive parents and the state agency providing the adoption assistance; and

(e) Such other provisions as may be appropriate to implement the proper administration of the compact.

§ 93-17-107. Medicaid eligibility; medical assistance identification; penalties for false statement or claim; applicability.

(1) A child with special needs resident in this state who is the subject of an adoption assistance agreement with another state and who has been determined eligible for medicaid in that state shall be entitled to receive a medical assistance identification from this state upon filing with the Mississippi Department of Public Welfare a certified copy of the adoption assistance agreement obtained from the adoption assistance state which certifies to the eligibility of the child for medicaid. In accordance with regulations of the Mississippi Department of Public Welfare, the adoptive parents shall be required, at least annually, to show that the agreement is still in force or has been renewed.

(2) The Division of Medicaid, Office of the Governor, shall consider the holder of a medical assistance identification pursuant to this section as any other holder of a medical assistance identification under the laws of this state and shall process and make payment on claims on account of such holder in the same manner and pursuant to the same conditions and procedures as for other recipients of medical assistance.

(3) The submission of any claim for payment or reimbursement for services or benefits pursuant to this section or the making of any statement in connection therewith, which claim or statement the maker knows or should know to be false, misleading or fraudulent shall be punishable as perjury and shall also be subject to a fine not to exceed Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000.00), or imprisonment for not to exceed two (2) years, or both.

(4) The provisions of this section shall apply only to medical assistance for children under adoption assistance agreements from states that have entered into a compact with this state under which the other state provides medical assistance to children with special needs under adoption assistance agreements made by this state. All other children entitled to medical assistance pursuant to adoption assistance agreements entered into by this state shall be eligible to receive it in accordance with the laws and procedures applicable thereto.

§ 93-17-109. Inclusion of federal aid in certain state plans.

Consistent with federal law, the Mississippi Department of Public Welfare and the Division of Medicaid, Office of the Governor of the State of Mississippi, in connection with the administration of Sections 93-17-101 through 93-17-109 and any compact entered into pursuant hereto, shall include in any state plan made pursuant to the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 (P.L. 96-272), Titles IV(e) and XIX of the Social Security Act, and any other applicable federal laws, the provision of adoption assistance and medical assistance for which the federal government pays some or all of the cost provided such authority is granted under the provisions of some law of this state other than the provisions of Sections 93-17-101 through 93-17-109. Such departments shall apply for and administer all relevant federal aid in accordance with law.


MISSISSIPPI ADOPTION CONFIDENTIALITY ACT

Sections 93-17-201 through 93-17-223 may be cited as the "Mississippi Adoption Confidentiality Act."

§ 93-17-203. Definitions.

The following words and phrases shall have the meanings ascribed herein unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

(a) "Agency" means a county welfare department, a licensed or nonlicensed adoption agency or any other individual or entity assisting in the finalization of an adoption.

(b) "Adoptee" means a person who is or has been adopted in this state at any time.

(c) "Birth parent" means either:

(i) The mother designated on the adoptee's original birth certificate; or

(ii) The person named by the mother designated on the adoptee's original birth certificate as the father of the adoptee.

(d) "Board" means the Mississippi State Board of Health.

(e) "Bureau" means the Bureau of Vital Records of the Mississippi State Board of Health.

(f) "Licensed adoption agency" means any agency or organization performing adoption services and duly licensed by the Mississippi Department of Human Services, Division of Family and Children's Services.

§ 93-17-205. Centralized adoption records file established; contents; filing of supplemental information; authorization to release birth parent's identity; notification of genetic illness.

(1) The bureau shall maintain a centralized adoption records file for all adoptions performed in this state after July 1, 2005, which shall include the following information:

(a) The medical and social history of the birth parents, including information regarding genetically inheritable diseases or illnesses and any similar information furnished by the birth parents about the adoptee's grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters;

(b) A report of any medical examination which either birth parent had within one (1) year before the date of the petition for adoption, if available;

(c) A report describing the adoptee's prenatal care and medical condition at birth, if available; and

(d) The medical and social history of the adoptee, including information regarding genetically inheritable diseases or illnesses, and any other relevant medical, social and genetic information.

(2) Any birth parent may file with the bureau at any time any relevant supplemental nonidentifying information about the adoptee or the adoptee's birth parents, and the bureau shall maintain this information in the centralized adoption records file.

(3) The bureau shall also maintain as part of the centralized adoption records file the following:

(a) The name, date of birth, social security number (both original and revised, where applicable) and birth certificate (both original and revised) of the adoptee;

(b) The names, current addresses and social security numbers of the adoptee's birth parents, guardian and legal custodian;

(c) Any other available information about the birth parent's identity and location.

(4) Any birth parent may file with the bureau at any time an affidavit authorizing the bureau to provide the adoptee with his or her original birth certificate and with any other available information about the birth parent's identity and location, or an affidavit expressly prohibiting the bureau from providing the adoptee with any information about such birth parent's identity and location, and prohibiting any licensed adoption agency from conducting a search for such birth parent under the terms of Sections 93-17-201 through 93-17-223. An affidavit filed under this section may be revoked at any time by written notification to the bureau from the birth parent.

(5) Counsel for the adoptive parents in the adoption finalization proceeding shall provide the bureau with the information required in subsections (1) and (3) of this section, and he shall also make such information a part of the adoption records of the court in which the final decree of adoption is rendered. This information shall be provided on forms prepared by the bureau.

(6) (a) If an agency receives a report from a physician stating that a birth parent or another child of the birth parent has acquired or may have a genetically transferable disease or illness, the agency shall notify the bureau and the appropriate licensed adoption agency, and the latter agency shall notify the adoptee of the existence of the disease or illness, if he or she is twenty-one (21) years of age or over, or notify the adoptee's guardian, custodian or adoptive parent if the adoptee is under age twenty-one (21).

(b) If an agency receives a report from a physician that an adoptee has acquired or may have a genetically transferable disease or illness, the agency shall notify the bureau and the appropriate licensed agency, and the latter agency shall notify the adoptee's birth parent of the existence of the disease or illness.

(7) Compliance with the provisions of this section may be waived by the court, in its discretion, in any chancery court proceeding in which one or more of the petitioners for adoption is the natural mother or father of the adoptee.

§ 93-17-207. Release of nonidentifying information; persons eligible to receive; fee.

(1) The bureau or the agency shall release the nonidentifying information maintained as provided in Section 93-17-205 for a reasonable fee, including the actual cost of reproduction, to any of the following persons upon request made with sufficient proof of identity:

(a) An adoptee eighteen (18) years of age or older;

(b) An adoptive parent;

(c) The guardian or legal custodian of an adoptee; or

(d) The offspring or blood sibling of an adoptee if the requester is eighteen (18) years of age or older.

(2) Information released pursuant to subsection (1) of this section shall not include the name and address of the birth parent, the identity of any provider of health care to the adoptee or to the birth parent and any other information which might reasonably lead to the discovery of the identity of either birth parent.

§ 93-17-209. Search for birth parents by agency to obtain medical, social, or genetic information; fee.

(1) Whenever any person specified under Section 93-17-207 wishes to obtain medical, social or genetic background information about an adoptee or nonidentifying information about the birth parents of such adoptee, and the information is not on file with the bureau and the birth parents have not filed affidavits prohibiting a search to be conducted for them under the provisions of Sections 93-17-201 through 93-17-223, the person may request a licensed adoption agency to locate the birth parents to obtain the information.

(2) Employees of any agency conducting a search under this section may not inform any person other than the birth parents of the purpose of the search.

(3) The agency may charge the requester a reasonable fee for the cost of the search. When the agency determines that the fee will exceed One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) for either birth parent, it shall notify the requester. No fee in excess of One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) per birth parent may be charged unless the requester, after receiving notification under this paragraph, has given consent to proceed with the search.

(4) The agency conducting the search shall, upon locating a birth parent, notify him or her of the request and of the need for medical, social and genetic information.

(5) The agency shall release to the requester any medical or genetic information provided by a birth parent under this section without disclosing the birth parent's identity or location.

(6) If a birth parent is located but refuses to provide the information requested, the agency shall notify the requester, without disclosing the birth parent's identity or location, and the requester may petition the chancery court to order the birth parent to disclose the nonidentifying information. The court shall grant the motion for good cause shown.

(7) The Mississippi Department of Health and Human Services shall provide the bureau each year with a list of licensed adoption agencies in this state capable of performing the types of searches described in this section.

§ 93-17-211. Civil and criminal immunity for persons acting under Adoption Confidentiality Act.

Any person, including this state or any political subdivision of this state, and any employee, agent or representative of any agency who participates in good faith in any requirement of Sections 93-17-201 through 93-17-223 shall have immunity from any liability, civil or criminal, that results from his or her actions. In any proceeding, civil or criminal, the good faith of any person participating in the requirements of Sections 93-17-201 through 93-17-223 shall be presumed.

§ 93-17-213. Promulgation of rules and regulations; fees.

The bureau shall promulgate rules and regulations necessary to carry out the provisions of Sections 93-17-201 through 93-17-223 and the bureau may charge reasonable fees to implement Sections 93-17-201 through 93-17-223.

§ 93-17-215. Request by adoptee for identifying information.

Any person twenty-one (21) years of age or over who has been adopted in this state may request the bureau through a licensed adoption agency providing post-adoption services to obtain and provide the identifying information regarding either or both of his or her birth parents maintained as provided in Section 93-17-205, unless that birth parent has executed an affidavit prohibiting the release of such information.

§ 93-17-217. Identification and counseling of requesting adoptee; release of information by bureau.

Provided the birth parent has not filed an affidavit prohibiting the release of identifying information and before acting on a request made pursuant to Section 93-17-209 or Section 93-17-215, the agency shall require the adoptee to provide adequate identification and to submit to counseling by such agency in connection with the release and use of this information. The bureau shall release the requested information to the designated agency upon request by such agency.

§ 93-17-219. Search for birth parent; when permitted; fee; agency contact with birth parent; release of information to adoptee.

(1) If the bureau does not have on file (a) an affidavit either authorizing release of identifying information or prohibiting such release and any further contact from each known birth parent for whom information is sought, or (b) a notice that such birth parent has been contacted once and has refused to authorize the release of confidential information, then the adoptee may request the agency to undertake a search for the birth parent who has not filed an affidavit or who has not been contacted. The licensed agency shall not inform any person other than the birth parents of the purpose of the search.

(2) The licensed agency may charge the adoptee a reasonable fee for the cost of the search. When the agency determines that the fee will exceed One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) for either birth parent, it shall notify the adoptee. No fee in excess of One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) per birth parent may be charged unless the adoptee, after receiving notification under this paragraph, has given consent to proceed with the search.

(3) Upon locating a birth parent the licensed agency conducting the search shall make at least one (1) verbal contact and notify him or her of the following:

(a) The nature of the information requested;

(b) The date of the request; and

(c) The fact that the birth parent has the right to consent to or prohibit the release of this information by filing with the bureau the affidavit to this effect.

(4) Within three (3) working days after contacting a birth parent, the licensed agency shall provide the birth parent with a written statement of the information requested and an affidavit form authorizing or prohibiting the release of the requested information. If the birth parent authorizes the release of the information, the licensed agency shall disclose the requested information about that birth parent.

(5) If a licensed agency has contacted a birth parent as provided by this section, and the birth parent does not file the affidavit, the agency shall not disclose the requested information.

(6) If, after a search under this section, a known birth parent cannot be located, the agency shall not disclose the requested identifying information about that birth parent, although it may disclose any available nonidentifying information regarding that birth parent, and it may disclose identifying information about the other birth parent if such other birth parent has signed an unrevoked affidavit authorizing such release. If a birth parent is located and refuses to authorize the release of identifying information, the agency locating this birth parent shall notify the bureau. The bureau shall note such contact and refusal in its records.

(7) Only one (1) contact shall be made with a birth parent pursuant to a search request under this section if the birth parent refuses to authorize the release of the requested information. Further contacts with a birth parent under this section on behalf of the same adoptee shall be prohibited.

§ 93-17-221. Petition in chancery court for disclosure of identifying information.

The adoptee may petition the chancery court to order the agency to disclose any identifying information that may not be disclosed under Sections 93-17-201 through 93-17-223. The court shall grant the petition for good cause shown.

§ 93-17-223. One birth parent prohibited from divulging identity of other parent.

In cases where only one (1) of the birth parents has authorized the release of identifying information, that birth parent shall be prohibited from divulging to the adoptee the identity, or any information reasonably calculated to lead to discovery of the identity, of the other birth parent, and shall execute a sworn affidavit stating that no such information shall be revealed. The refusal of any birth parent to comply with this prohibition shall constitute an act of bad faith under the terms of Sections 93-17-201 through 93-17-223, and such birth parent shall be subject to civil liability for the release of such information.

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