As of 1995, changes in Michigan's adoption law modified these restrictions.
- It is possible to make a "temporary placement" of a
child in a prospective adoptive home immediately following birth,
while the legal proceedings are being completed.
- Parents are able to make a "direct placement" of their
child, i.e., parents are able to personally select the adopting
parent and consent to adoption of their child by an unrelated individual
- A parent can enlist the assistance of an "adoption facilitator" in
effecting an adoption. "Adoption facilitators" are child
placing agencies or attorneys.
- Adoptee - The child or adult to be adopted or who is adopted.
- Adoption facilitator - A child placing agency or an attorney.
- Adoption Facilitator Clearinghouse Record - A public information
form completed by adoption facilitators and filed with the Michigan Department of Human Services
- Agency placement - The placement of a child for adoption
by a child placing agency, the Michigan Department of Human Services
or a Michigan family court.
- Child placing agency - A private organization licensed by
the state to place children in foster care or adoption.
- Consent - The legal document by which all parent or agency
rights over a specific child are voluntarily relinquished to the probate
court for placement with a specific parent.
- Court - Family courts in Michigan. Unless stated otherwise,
references to "court" in this pamphlet refer to the
family division of the county circuit court, usually referred to as the "family court".
- DHS - The Michigan Department of Human Services.
- Formal placement - An adoptive placement approved by the
- MCI - Michigan Children’s Institute, which is an office within
DHS. The MCI superintendent is designated by Michigan law as the quardian of children who have
been committed to MCI by a court. The MCI superintendent is authorized by statute to consent
to adoption, marriage, or emancipation of state wards.
- Relative - A person related to the adoptee within the fifth
degree by marriage, blood or adoption. They include: Parent, step-parent,
grandparent, step-grandparent, brother, step-brother, sister, step-sister,
uncle, step-uncle, aunt, step-aunt, first cousin, step-first cousin,
great aunt, step-great aunt, great uncle, step-great uncle, great
grandparent, step-great grandparent, first cousin once removed, step-first
cousin once removed, great great grandparent, step-great great grandparent,
great great uncle, step-great great uncle, great great aunt, step-great
great aunt, great great great grandparent, or step-great great great
- Release - The legal document by which all parental rights
over a specific child are voluntarily relinquished to the Department of Human Services
or to a child placing agency.
NOTE: Reference throughout this pamphlet will be to
the parent (singular) of the child,
but in general, both parents must be involved even though the parents
are not married, or are not married to each other. Likewise, the prospective
adopting parent is used in the singular but refers to an adoption by
a single person or married couple.
C. COMMON ASPECTS OF ADOPTION IN MICHIGAN
A simplified view of the legal process of an adoption,
without a temporary placement, is presented here in an effort to make
it clear how the adoption process in Michigan works:
- The prospective adoptive parent petitions the court to adopt a specific
child. The petition is filed in the court of the county where the child
is found or where the adoptive parent resides.
- The petition and other legal forms are normally accompanied by
a consent signed by the parent, a child placing agency, a court or
the DHS, depending on the type of adoption.
- The court orders an investigation to assure that the interests
of the adoptee are protected.
- Following receipt of a completed report of investigation and satisfied
that the adoptee's best interests are served, the court will issue
an order terminating the rights of the parent, the child placing
agency, court or the DHS. The court makes the adoptee a ward of the
court, and orders placement in adoption, and assigns a child placing
agency, the DHS or an agent of the court to supervise/monitor the
- Six months after the placement, or longer if the court finds it
in the adoptee's best interest, the court will enter an order of
adoption. The order of adoption completes the process.
There are other considerations or aspects of adoption in Michigan that
are common regardless of the type of adoption. Some of these are:
- Adoption makes the adoptee an heir of the adopting parent.
- The family name of the adopting parent may or may not become the
name of the adoptee at the discretion of the parties.
- A court appointed guardian must act on behalf of any unemancipated
minor parent who consent to an adoption of a child or who release
a child to a child placing agency for adoption.
- An adoption subsidy may be available to assist with the financial
burden of care of a child with special needs. A pamphlet explaining
adoption subsidy is available from child placing agencies, the DHS
- At the time of an adoption, written non-identifying information
about the adoptee, the adoptee's health history, and the adoptee's
family background is made available to the adopting parents. In direct
and agency placements identifying information is withheld unless
the adoptee's parent and the prospective adoptive parent elect to
exchange identifying information.
- All fees connected with an adoption must be approved by the court.
Permissible costs, fees, and any exchange of goods or services, are
specified by law. They must be reported to the court prior to formal
placement, and again before the court issues the final order of adoption.
- Placement of a child for adoption can be done only by the parent
of the adoptee, a child placing agency, the DHS, or a court that
has the legal and physical custody of the adoptee.
- Only prospective adoptive parents may solicit biological
parents for adoption. ("Solicit" means contact in
person, by telephone or telegraph, by letter or other writing,
or by communication directed to a specific recipient.)
- Before a formal placement the rights of both parents must
D. TYPES OF ADOPTIONS IN MICHIGAN
Michigan law allows for many different types of adoptions. The most
common adoptions are infant adoptions, state and court ward adoptions,
relative adoptions, step-parent adoptions, intercountry and interstate
adoption, and adult adoptions.
Infant Adoption - Infants placed in adoption by child
placing agencies or by the parent through direct placement.
Agency adoption - In agency adoptions, the parent
releases the adoptee to a child placing agency. The child placing agency selects
the prospective adoptive parent from among its applicants and consents
to the adoption. In many child placing agencies it is possible for the adoptee's
parent to participate in the selection of the prospective adoptive
parent. The sharing of identifying information between the child's
parent and adoptive parent is permitted as well as an agreement for
continued contact. Agencies can place a child with a prospective adoptive
parent before formal placement through a temporary placement (See Section
E, Temporary Placement Prior to Adoption) or by licensing the prospective
adoptive parent as a foster parent.
Direct placement adoption - The parent of the adoptee personally
selects the prospective adoptive parent, transfers physical custody
of the adoptee to the adoptive parent and consents to the adoption. The
parent retains all parental rights over the adoptee until formal placement.
Attorneys and child placement agencies can assist a parent in making
a direct placement.
Information about a prospective adoptive family is given to the parent
or guardian seeking to place a child for adoption by an attorney,
child placing agency or the prospective adopting parent. In addition,
the preplacement assessment
must be given to the parent before placement of the adoptee. The parent or
guardian and the prospective adoptive parent will decide whether to exchange identifying
information and whether to meet each other.
In a direct placement, the parent may place the child with the prospective
adoptive parent before formal placement. This is called a temporary
placement and can only be done if all the legal requirements are met.
Temporary placement will be explained further in Section E, below.
State and court ward adoption - Adoption of a child
whose parental rights have been terminated by the family court and are committed to the state (state wards) or
are placed under the care and supervision of the state (court wards).
The DHS is responsible for the adoptive placement of state wards
and court wards. These children are placed by the DHS and by child
placing agencies under contract with the state. Most of the children
fall into the following groups:
- Minority children
- Older children
- Children with physical, emotional or mental impairments
- Family groups of two or more children
The DHS’s emphasis in adoption of state and court wards is on placement with
relatives or with foster parents with whom the adoptee has a significant
relationship. In fact, approximatley 90 percent of the DHS’s adoptions, each
year, are with foster parents and relatives.
For those children for whom a family is not readily available,
the DHS uses a variety of recruitment efforts such as newspaper articles,
telelvision, local child placing agency recruitment and the Michigan
Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE) photo listing book. The MARE photo listing
book can be found in many public libraries, at many child placing
agencies and at many of the local offices of the DHS.
Relative adoption - The adoption of a child by a
relative (See Section B, Definitions, Relative). Many courts provide
the necessary services for relative adoptions.
- Step-parent adoption - The adoption of a child by
a step-parent. In the case of a divorce, the non-custodial parent must
consent to the adoption or the rights of the non-custodial parent must
be terminated because the court has determined that the non-custodial
parent has failed significantly in his or her parental responsibilities.
The court provides the necessary services for step-parent adoptions.
- Intercountry or interstate adoption - The adoption
of a child from another country, or from another state by a Michigan
family. Michigan law recognizes the adoption, the consent to adoption,
or the release of a child for adoption, if any one of those actions
is in accordance with the laws of the state or country in which it
was executed. Michigan law permits courts to certify an adoption completed
in another country so that a Michigan birth certificate can be issued
for the child.
- Adult adoption - Adoption of an adult adoptee by
another adult with the consent of the adoptee. As with all Michigan
adoptions, adult adoption makes the adoptee an heir of the adopting
parent. The court or an attorney can assist in an adult adoption.
E. TEMPORARY PLACEMENT PRIOR TO ADOPTION
The parent may place an adoptee in the care of a prospective adoptive
parent prior to formal placement through a temporary placement. This
permits an infant to be placed directly from the hospital with a prospective
With written authorization of the parent, a child placing agency may make a
temporary placement of a child.
A temporary placement must meet all of the following requirements:
- The prospective adoptive parent must be a Michigan resident.
- In a direct placement, the parent must be assisted by a child
placing agency or an attorney.
- A written statement about the transfer of physical custody of the
adoptee must be signed and witnessed by all parties.
- The attorney or child placing agency that assists must submit a
report to the court within two (2) working days of the transfer of
The court has the authority to resolve any custody disputes that arise
between temporary placement and formal placement.
A preplacement assessment is required in all direct placements. If
a temporary placement is made, the preplacement assessment must be
completed before the temporary placement. If no temporary placement
is made, it must be completed before formal placement. The preplacement
assessment is prepared by a child placing agency upon the request of
a prospective adopting parent. Prospective adoptive parents may request
completion of a preplacement assessment even though no adoptee has
F. ASSISTANCE IN ADOPTION
Help in adoption, for the parent of an adoptee or for a prospective
adoptive parent, is available as follows:
Attorneys, child placing agencies or the DHS will provide a written
document identifying the services they provide. Specifically the facilitator
- A copy of this pamphlet about adoption in Michigan. The facilitator
will review the pamphlet and discuss the alternatives that are applicable
- Information about how to get the directory of children with special
needs who are available for adoption.
- Information about how to access the registry of adoptive homes
(i.e., the couples or persons seeking to adopt an infant).
- Information about how to obtain Adoption Facilitator Clearinghouse
Record Forms about child placing agencies and attorneys.
- Information about the kinds of adoptions the facilitator provides.
Counseling services for a parent of an adoptee may be obtained from
a child placing agency, psychologist, psychiatrist or licensed counselor.
In a direct placement or in a parent release of an adoptee, a referral
for counseling service must be made unless waived by the parent.
Counseling services for the parent or guardian of an adoptee will be
paid for by the prospective adoptive parent unless the parent waives
the right to counseling.
G. THE ROLE OF THE FAMILY COURT
Every adoption is processed through the court and the court makes the
final decision that the placement is in the best interest of the adoptee.
- The court receives the request (petition) of the
prospective adoptive parent to adopt a specific child.
- The court receives the consent to adopt and all
other required legal forms.
- The court will order an investigation and will
review the investigation report to assure that the adoption is
in the best interest of the adoptee. A preplacement assessment
or home study may satisfy the need for an investigation.
The court will terminate the rights
of the parent (Note:
The rights of both parents must be terminated by the court
before formal placement). The adoptee will be made a
ward of the court and placed in the home of the adopting parent
for a period of supervision. This supervisory period is normally
six months but may be waived or extended at the discretion of
the court. The court will appoint a child placing agency, the
DHS or an agency of the court to oversee the adjustment of the
adoptee and family during the period of supervision. In a direct
placement, a child placing agency must be appointed by the court.
This is usually the agency that prepared the preplacement assessment.
satisfactory completion of the supervisory period, the court
enters a final order of adoption. This order of adoption
completes the legal process. It makes the child an heir of the
adopting parent and in the eyes of the law this child is as much
a child of the adopting parent as one who would have been born
to the parent.
- The court notifies the department of community health of the adoption
permitting the department of community health to issue a new birth certificate
in the adoptive name.
The court must also approve any and all charges and fees connected
with the adoption. This includes fees paid to an agency or attorney,
any service fees, and any exchange of goods connected with the adoption.
H. THE CHILDREN'S OMBUDSMAN
The legislature established the Office of the Children's Ombudsman to
ensure compliance with pertinent laws, rules and policies that govern
the placement of children in adoption. Birth parents, foster parents,
adoptive and prospective adoptive parents, and guardians as well as others
may file complaints with the Ombudsman when it is believed that the DHS
or a child placing agency is not acting in compliance with laws, rules
and policies governing placement of children in adoption. Complaints
may be filed with:
Department of Management and Budget
P.O. Box 30026
Lansing, Michigan 48909
Telephone: (517) 373-3077 or (800) 642-4326
Complains about an attorney should be filed with the Attorney Grievance Commission
rather than the Children's Ombudsman.
I. INFORMATION SERVICES
Adoption agencies and attorneys - Information about adoption agencies
and attorneys serving a particular county or counties, the number of
adoptions facilitated by the adoption agency or attorney, and fees charged
can be obtained by writing to:
- Michigan Department of Human Services
Adoption Facilitator Clearinghouse
Payment/Document Control Division
P.O. Box 30037
Lansing, Michigan 48909
The DHS will charge a fee for transmitting copies of the Adoption Facilitator
Clearinghouse Record forms.
Access to information in adoption records - In general, adoption records
are "closed" or confidential. Available non-identifying information,
and medical information regarding the adoptee and the adoptee's family,
is made available at the time of adoption to the adoptive parent and
upon request thereafter to the adoptive parents of a minor, the adult
adoptee, birth parents and birth siblings.
Identifying or confidential information can be obtained if parties consent
to the release of that information. Birth parents and adult siblings may register
their statements of consent or denial to have information released about themselves
with the Central Adoption Registry which is maintained by the Department of Human Services,
Adoption Services Division. Adult adoptees can contact the court that
finalized their adoption and the agency that handled their adoption if they
wish to file a statement releasing their information to birth family members.
For additional information regarding access to closed adoption records, request
Publication 439, "Release of Information from Michigan Adoption Records," from
child placing agencies, attorneys or contact:
- The Central Adoption Registry
Michigan Department of Human Services
P.O. Box 30037
Lansing, Michigan 48909
Adoption subsidy - Since 1969, Michigan has provided a financial support
subsidy, and since 1972 a medical subsidy, or both, for those children
who have special needs and would not be adopted without a subsidy. The
subsidy is not linked to a family's financial need, but to an adoptee's
The DHS publishes a booklet about adoption subsidy entitled, "Michigan
Adoption Subsidy Program Information Guide" (Publication 538). Child placing
agencies, attorneys and the DHS are required to provide a copy of this
booklet prior to placement of a child for adoption.
J. RECOMMENDED QUESTIONS
If you are a parent, or are about to become a parent, and are considering
placing your child for adoption, questions you may wish to ask an adoption
- How many adoptions have you facilitated?
- Does your practice encourage or permit "open" as
well as confidential adoptions?
- Can you help me locate someone to adopt my child? How do you do
- How do you arrange for or provide counseling?
- How do you assure my rights are protected?
- What fees do you charge, who is responsible for paying the fees,
and how are they handled?
- Can you help me apply for financial assistance such as Medicaid?
If you are a prospective adoptive applicant, questions you may wish
to ask an adoption facilitator are:
- What training and experience have you had in providing adoption services?
- How many and what kinds of adoptions have you facilitated?
- Do you provide services in interstate and intercountry adoptions?
- Can you help me locate a child to adopt? How do you do this?
- Will you take calls from birthparents responding to my ads or letters?
- Will you facilitate meetings between me and birthparents?
- What adoption services do you provide directly and what services
do you provide through referral?
- Which services are required and which are optional?
- What is the expected range of all fees and costs that I will be
responsible for? What is your average cost per adoption?
- If I pay for birth parent expenses, how will these payments be
- What happens to the money I paid if I terminate your services or
if an adoption does not occur?
- May I have the name of and may I contact other adoptive applicants
who have used your services and have agreed to be contacted?