Family Law Service

There is nothing more important.

Adoption is a complete and permanent way to obtain legal custody of a child. Effective with the completion of the adoption process, the adoptive parent(s) assume all the duties, rights and obligations of parenthood and the rights and obligations of the biological parents are terminated.

Adoption takes time. Even a relatively straight forward adoption involves a determination of the fitness and the emotional, physical and financial suitability of the adoptive parent(s) and usually, pre and post placement reports and home studies. In any adoption involving a child over the age of ten, the child will need to undergo counseling to ensure the child understands the consequences of an adoption.

In New Mexico, an adopting parent may be a court approved single or married individual. Adoption by non married couples permitted. The law does not discriminate against gay and lesbian couples, either married or non married.

Simple Adoptions

Involve a child whose parents are dead, have given the child up for adoption or who have had their parental rights terminated through an abuse and neglect proceeding.

Stepparent Adoptions

Are increasingly common. The non custodial parent’s consent, either express or implied, or the termination of that parent’s rights is required. The custodial parent and the stepparent must have been married for two years before a stepparent can petition for adoption of a child. The custodial parent will also need to consent to the adoption and undergo counseling by an independent attorney prior to the adoption being finalized.

Interfamily or Inter-Tribal Adoptions

Under certain circumstances, grandparents, aunts, uncles or other relatives opt to adopt a child. The biological parents’ consent or court termination of their parental rights is required. If the adoptive child is of Indian descent, additional specific procedures, including notification to the child’s tribe or pueblo, must be strictly adhered to.

Open Adoptions

Are becoming much more prevalent. In an open adoption, the identities of the adoptive and biological parents are not kept secret and contact may be maintained between the adoptive child and the birth parent(s). Open adoptions can vary considerably with contact ranging from exchanging occasional photos to actual on‐ongoing visitation.

Closed Adoptions

Involve a complete rupture of the relationship between the biological parent(s) and the child. Identities may be “closed”, with only pertinent medical and genetic information supplied. These are becoming less common as more Courts are leaning towards children maintaining connections to their biological families in one form or another.

International Adoptions

Are typically fairly complex. The laws of the child’s country of origin, the U.S. and New Mexico must all be compiled with.

Contested Adoptions

New Mexico courts grant adoptions over the parents’ objections extremely rarely, but contested adoptions do occur given certain very stringent conditions. Contested adoptions are the most legally complex.

Given the emotional and legal complexities involved in adopting a child or terminating parental rights, we strongly suggest that an attorney experienced in adoption be consulted at the beginning of the adoption process.

If you require legal assistance in any of these areas and would like to schedule an appointment, please phone us at 505 889 8240 (Albuquerque) or 505 984 0097 (Santa Fe) or online through our contact form.