North Dakota adoption laws


A single adult or a husband and wife jointly may adopt. A married individual may adopt singly if the adoptee is not the adopting parent’s spouse, if the adopting parent is a stepparent, if the adopting parent is legally separated from his/her spouse, or if the spouse is excused from petitioning to adopt by the court for reasonable cause.

Can LGBT families adopt? LGBT singles are permitted to adopt individually; however, state statutes do not address whether same-sex couples may jointly petition to adopt.


Can adoptive parents advertise for birth parents? Yes.

Can out-of-state residents finalize an adoption? Generally, no.

Can adopting parents use an adoption facilitator or another paid intermediary? Yes, but adopting parents must use an adoption facilitator that is licensed by the Dept. of Human Service.

What birth parent expenses may be paid, and in what time period? Medical. Counseling and living related to adoption and placement, for no longer than 6 weeks following delivery unless the court determines birthmother can’t be employed because of physical disabilities related to the birth. Living expenses do not include lost wages, gifts, educational expenses, vacations or other similar expenses.

Is there a putative father registry? No.

When can consent to adoption be granted? Agency adoption: any time after birth; private adoption: birthmother, 48 hours after birth; birthfather, anytime.

When does consent become irrevocable? If consent is revoked, is return to birth parent automatic? After termination of parental rights at a termination hearing in court and an order is issued. If a consent is part of an adoption (which is rare, but can happen in relative adoptions, etc.), a consent to adoption can be revoked any time before entry of a decree of adoption, but not after.

Are post-adoption contact agreements legally enforceable? Not addressed in state statutes.


Is a foreign adoption decree automatically recognized by the state? Yes, a decree of court by a court within or outside of the U.S. is recognized by North Dakota as long as the adoption decree is issued under due process of law.

Can parents readopt in this state? Is it mandatory? Yes, adopting parents must readopt in North Dakota by providing the court with a petition to recognize the foreign adoption, proof of the child’s IR-3 Visa status, the child’s foreign birth certificate plus a translation, the foreign adoption decree plus a translation, and a signed affidavit from the agency that confirms the validity of the adoption.

When will a U.S. birth certificate be issued? The State Registrar of Vital Statistics will issue a birth certificate upon receipt of a certified copy of the adoptee’s birth record, a copy of the adoption decree, and an affidavit from the adopting parents detailing the child’s date and place of birth, as well as the probable parentage of the child. This information must be presented to the State Registrar within 30 days after the adoption decree finalization.


Are adoption subsidies available? When do they start and how long do they last? Yes, subsidies are available for a special needs child, who is defined as having at least one of the following: 7 years or older, but under 18 years, of a minority race, member of a sibling group of 2 or more children being placed together, has or is at high risk of developing a physical, mental, or emotional condition. In addition, the child must be in the custody of a public, private, or tribal agency. Subsidies start at adoption placement.

Where can I learn more about the process of adopting a child from foster care in North Dakota?

North Dakota Department of Human Services (NDDHS)
Children and Family Services Division
State Capitol, Department 325
Bismarck, ND 58505
(701) 328-4805