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Adoption in Oregon
A.Authority: ORS 109.305-109.410
Any person may seek to adopt a child. However, an adoption will not be granted unless the consent (or a waiver of the consent) is received from the child's birth parents. If the child's birth parents' rights have been terminated, then SCF must give its consent to the adoption. A birth parent's consent may be waived if paternity has never been established or if the birth parent willfully neglected or abandoned the child for at least one year prior to the adoption petition.
If the adoption is granted, the person becomes the legal parent of the child. The effect of the adoption is to terminate the birth parents' rights.
D.Special Concern--Adoption and the Termination of Grandparents' Rights
Since an adoption terminates the rights of the birth parents, it also has the effect of terminating the blood relationship of the grandparents. Therefore, it may be important to intervene in an adoption proceeding to protect your rights. Intervention has its own problems.
Notice to grandparents is required only in stepparent adoptions and then a motion for visitation rights must be filed within 30 days (see Section V.E below).
In non-stepparent adoptions. you may never find out about a pending adoption, because the law does not require notice to be given to extended family members-only to birth parents. Even if you do intervene, the court may permit the adoption to proceed and not award you any visitation with the child. Although it has not been conclusively determined, when a conflict exists between an extended family member and the new adoptive family, the court will give preference to the rights and concerns of the new adoptive family over the extended family member.
A grandparent who requests but is denied a request to be the adoptive parent may a limited right to appeal to the Circuit Court for a review of the agency (SCF) decision.
See also Section IV.D re: guardianship without termination of parental rights.
E.Notice/Visitation Rights in Stepparent Adoptions--ORS 109.309; ORS 109.332
In stepparent adoptions only, grandparents must be given notice of the proposed stepparent adoption by receiving a true copy of the adoption petition. Within 30 days of service of the petition, a grandparent may file a motion with the court seeking visitation rights after the adoption. Visitation rights will only be awarded if it can be established, by clear and convincing evidence, that visitation with the grandparent(s) is in the best interests of the child; that a substantial relationship existed prior to the adoption; and that establishing visitation rights will not interfere with the relationship between the child and the adoptive family. This law does not apply to independent or Children's Services Division (SCF)-sponsored adoptions.
F.Open Adoption Agreements--ORS 109.305
In both stepparent adoptions and non-stepparent adoptions (including independent and SCF cases), birth parents and adoptive parents may sign an "open adoption" agreement, allowing visitation with grandparents. This agreement is enforceable by the courts but does not otherwise affect the adoption.
Oregon Courts decide child custody when the parents cannot. The court considers the best interests of the child when making a ruling. Child support payments are based on an income shares model. Each parent is required to contribute financially to their child's upbringing and each person's share is calculated in proportion to their income. Each parent must provide copies of his or her W-2s to verify income. Along with the income statements, the court considers each parent's ability to borrow funds, earning capacity, and the child's needs. The court may order the parent paying child support to buy a life insurance policy and keep it in force so that the child will still be supported if the parent dies before he or she reaches the age of majority.
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