Please reference Nebraska Statutes and Regulations regarding adoption and child-placing agencies to learn more about what is required in the state of Nebraska for adoption.
Adoption in Nebraska
WARNING: Adoption is a serious legal proceeding that involves the termination of the legal parental rights of birth parents and the assumption of legal parental responsibilities by the adoptive parents. Individuals who are contemplating an adoption should consult legal and child welfare professionals before proceeding. The information contained in this document is only a general summary of Nebraska adoption policies and procedures. It is not intended to substitute for legal advice about any particular individual or situation.
For more information please contact the agency that you plan on working with.
By practice, she can begin the adoption process anytime during the pregnancy or any time after the baby is born.
The mother and/or father can choose the adoptive parents who are required to complete a pre-placement adoptive home study before the child can be placed with them for adoption. The adoptive home study must be conducted and approved by a licensed child placing agency. NRS-Neb
Best practice encourages the birthmother to spend time with the baby after the birth and prior to adoptive placement. The birthmother retains legal rights to the baby until she signs relinquishment documents.
Pregnancy related expenses actually incurred may be paid by the adoptive parents. Licensed child placing agencies in Nebraska do not pay for pregnancy related expenses incurred to eliminate potential coercion or feelings of obligation to place the baby for adoption.
Any expenses paid by the adoptive family, will not be reimbursed if the mother or father choose to parent their child.
Can a minor mother independently sign legal documents placing the child for adoption (consent to the adoption)?
Yes. The Nebraska Supreme Court has ruled that a mother can make decisions for her child no matter what her age.
Although the legal documents can be signed after a minimum of 48 hours after the birth of the child this can vary depending upon the professional that she is working with. Best practice among agencies is to have the mother sign legal documents after the 5 day period that a possible father can file a
Notice of Objection to Adoption and Intent to Obtain Custody. NRS-Neb
Can the mother change her mind before signing the legal consents (voluntary relinquishments) to the adoption?
Yes, nothing is legal until the relinquishment is signed.
Can the mother change her mind after signing the legal consents (voluntary relinquishments) to the adoption?
If the birth mother has relinquished her child to a licensed agency, then her relinquishment cannot be withdrawn.
In a an adoption, a birth mother who relinquishes her rights to a child by a valid written instrument gives up all rights to the child at the time of the relinquishment. A valid relinquishment is irrevocable. The birth mother retains only the right to commence an action seeking the return of the child and the right to be considered as a prospective parent if the best interests of the child so dictate. The birthmother’s rights are no longer superior to those of the prospective adoptive family. The child remains with the adoptive parents during the court proceedings.
Relinquishment is not valid if procured by threats, coercion, fraud, or duress. A birth mother challenging the validity of her relinquishment bears the burden of proving that the relinquishment was not valid.
Most agency adoptions involve open adoption where information and direct contact are shared. Adoptive parent(s) can change their minds at any time and are not bound by any agreement they have with the birthparents. If the child is a ward of the state, then the birth parent(s) and the adoptive parent(s) can enter into a legally-binding open adoption agreement, specifying what communication and contact may take place after the adoption is finalized.
Yes – Section 1. No person shall be prosecuted for any crime based solely upon the act of leaving a child, under the age of 30 days old in the custody of an employee on duty at a hospital licensed by the State of Nebraska. The hospital shall promptly contact appropriate authorities to take custody of the child.
If the father does not agree, Nebraska law gives him up to five days after Notification of an adoption plan or birth, whichever is later, to file and claim to paternity with the NE Dept. of Human Services registry. He then has 30 days to file a petition with in the county court in the county in which the child was born for an adjudication of the claim of paternity and right to custody. If such a petition is not filed within 30 days after filing the notice, the father’s consent to adoption shall not be required and any alleged parental rights of the father shall not be recognized thereafter in any court. If the father does not file a notice to claim paternity during the pregnancy or within 5 days after receiving his notice of the adoption plan or the birth of the child (whichever is later), he has no further parental rights. It is not a requirement of the agency that the fathers are notified about the birth.
If the child is eligible for enrollment into the tribe the enrolled member is required to sign legal consents (voluntarily relinquishments) in front of a judge. Tribes are notified of the voluntary adoption plan.
Yes, NE laws require that any and all possible biological fathers be notified and informed of his rights and responsibilities. PRS-Neb
Exceptions to notification exist when there is clear evidence that notice would be likely to threaten the safety of the birthmother or the child or conception was the result of sexual assault or incest. PRS-Neb
Agencies are not required to notify an alleged father of the birth of the child. It is the fathers responsibility to be aware of an expected due date of his child. When I notice of an adoption plan is provided to the father, an expected date of birth is given at that time as well. Fathers are encouraged to contact the agency to assist with the adoption planning.
The agency worker or attorney is mandated to notify the father or possible fathers of their rights by use of receipt of formal notification given in person or through registered mail or publication in a newspaper of general circulation. PRS-Neb
Fathers are encouraged to participate in adoption planning including the selection of the adoptive parents. Exceptions in NE law include situations of sexual assault, incest and potential safety risks to the mother and/or child. PRS-Neb
NE law is silent on this issue. There is a legal necessity to identify the father of children born out of wedlock, or whose biological father may be some one other than the mother’s husband. Once identified that father is entitled to notice, as described above. In practice, both the “legal” father and the biological father should be notified. Legal father denotes that he is identified as the child’s father solely because he is married to the child’s mother. PRS-Neb
The legal father, whether or not he is the birth father, must be notified as described above. Legal fathers may deny paternity and waive rights or sign a relinquishment for adoption.
The mother will complete the “
Affidavit of Identification of Father by Biological Mother
” and ask her to complete it with information about the father or possible fathers. The worker is mandated to use due diligence in notifying the father or possible fathers of their rights by use of receipt of formal notification, registered mail or publication in a newspaper. The notice will be sent to:
- Any man adjudicated by a court in the state of Nebraska, another state or territory to be the father.
- Any man who filed a paternity claim for notification purposes or a notice of intent to claim paternity and obtain custody pursuant to sections
- Any man who filed a notice to claim paternity and claim custody with the father’s registry at Vital Statistics.
- Any man recorded on the child’s birth certificate as the child’s father.
- Any man who might be the biological father who has openly lived with the child’s mother within twelve months of the child’s birth.
- Any man who has been identified as the biological father or possible biological father by the child’s mother pursuant to
- Any man who was married to the child’s mother within six months prior to the birth of the child and prior to execution of the relinquishment.
- Any man who the agency may have reason to believe may be the biological father of the child. PRS-Neb
Prior to signing relinquishment papers, the mother is required to complete and sign an affidavit requiring that she provide as much information as she has about the identity of the father. She must swear under oath that the affidavit is complete and accurate. Penalties of perjury apply to false affidavits. The affidavit is presented to the court for finalization. PRS-Neb
Can the biological father of the baby give notice that he intends to parent the baby before the baby is born?
Yes, the father can give notice that he intends to parent the baby prior to the birth by filing a notice of intent to claim paternity with the Biological Father Registry maintained by the NE Dept of Health and Human Service, Vital Records. PRS-Neb
Yes, nothing is legal until the relinquishment is signed.
Can a minor father independently sign legal documents placing the child for adoption (consent to the adoption)?
Yes, the law is the same as it is for the mother.
A biological father’s relinquishment and consent is irrevocable upon signing. Such relinquishment and consent can only be challenged on the basis of fraud or duress up to six months after signing the relinquishment document. After executing a valid relinquishment, a birth father retains only the right to commence an action seeking the return of the child and the right to be considered as a prospective parent if the best interests of the child so dictate. A birthfather’s rights are no longer superior to those of the prospective adoptive family. The child remains with the adoptive parents during the court proceedings. PRS-Neb
Yes – No person shall be prosecuted for any crime based solely upon the act of leaving a child, under the age of 30 days old, in the custody of an employee on duty at a hospital licensed by the State of Nebraska. The hospital shall promptly contact appropriate authorities to take custody of the child.
If the birth father does not agree, NE law gives him up to five days after notification or birth, whichever is later, to file and claim to paternity with the NE Dept. of Human Services Biologic Father Registry. He then has 30 days to file a petition within the county court in the county in which the child was born for an adjudication of the claim of paternity and right to custody. If such a petition is not filed within 30 days after filing the notice, the father’s consent to adoption shall not be required and any alleged parental rights of the father shall not be recognized thereafter in any court. If the father does not file a notice to claim paternity after 5 days after notification and/or birth, he has no further parental rights. PRS-Neb
A person either married or single, who has been assessed and approved through a pre-placement adoptive home study or, in specific situations, a post placement home study by a licensed child placing agency may be eligible to adopt. No person having a husband or wife may adopt a minor child unless the husband or wife joins in the petition for adoption.
A child placement agency must provide the adopting parents the available medical history of the person placed for adoption and of the biological parents, if available. The medical history of the adoptee must be provided to the court upon the filing of the petition for adoption. PRS-Neb 43-128
NE law requires that NE Dept. of Health and Human Services or a child licensed placing agency complete a home study of the prospective adoptive parents. This is completed before a child is placed in the home for adoption. Specific exceptions to the pre-placement requirement are made through a court order for situations such as when a child has been living with relatives for a period of time. The home study report must be within one year of the placement. PRS-Neb 43-107
Yes; the child must have resided with the adoptive parents for at least six months before a court hearing to finalize the adoption. PRS-Neb 43-109
Can the adoptive parents prohibit the birth parents from communicating with the child after the adoption?
As the legal parents the adoptive parents would have the same rights as any other parent in controlling other adult’s communication with their children. In private placements open adoption relationships are ethical and moral agreements but not bound by law. In a legally-binding open adoption as permitted through Nebraska statuettes for wards of the state, the adoptive parents would have to comply with the terms of the adoption regarding communication and contact between the birth parent(s) and the adoptive parents.
See above regarding legally binding open adoptions. If the adopted person is an adult, NE laws 43-130 through 43-146 details the circumstances under which information may be shared.
The birth parents should complete an State Medical History Form on the health of the birth family. A copy of this form is provided to the court at the time of finalization of the adoption. PRS-Neb 104
Most agencies who approve a home study will conduct two to three post placement visits before finalization occurs as required per licensing regulations.
When the judge signs the decree of adoption.
The prospective adoptive parents do so through their attorney.
The child must reside with the adoptive parents six months before the finalization hearing on the adoption. The petition is filed and then the hearing is set for four to six weeks from that date. Papers are usually filed at least six months after the child has resided with the adoptive parents.
Biological parents can sign relinquishments a minimum 48 hours after the birth of the baby. Best practice recommends that when the biological father does not sign relinquishments, the biological mother waits until after it is determined whether the biological father will file a claim to paternity (5 business days after birth or notification) before signing relinquishments.
If the biological parents do not agree on an adoption plan then it becomes a custody situation through the court between the two biological parents.
Can the baby be placed for adoption without the consent of the biological mother and/or biological father?
No, unless the parent’s rights have been terminated by a court action or the biological father did not file a notice of intent to claim paternity and obtain custody. In a voluntary infant adoption the biological mother must consent to the adoption. However, if the biological father does not file a claim to paternity within five business days of the birth of the child or receiving his notice whichever comes later, he consents to the adoption by his in-action.
Before placing a child for adoption, the department, agency or court must provide the prospective adoptive parents with a written document containing all non-identifying information that is not confidential under state or Federal law and that is reasonably obtainable.
Once the adoption is finalized, the adoptive parents have full rights in decision making for that child, regardless of what may have been discussed or agreed upon prior to the adoption.
If the adoptee is a minor, the decision would be made by the adoptive parents. As an adult adoptee, the individual may seek out their birth parents via the Bureau of Vital Records and the birth parents have provided releases to provide identifying information. If an adopted person was relinquished after September 1, 1988 they may file a Release of Information form with the Bureau of Vital records and their Original Birth Record will be released to them.
The attorney/agency worker must make reasonable efforts to obtain non identifying information which includes: health and genetic family history, any medical, psychological or psychiatric evaluations available at the time of the adoption.
In Nebraska, any ancillary agreements, such as an openness plan or an openness agreement are NOT legally binding.
Most agencies will prepare a written agreement and the parties will sign the agreement, but that is to be used as a guide should there be disagreements in later years about the level of openness.
Birth parents are advised by the agencies, that any agreements are not legally binding.
Adoptive parents are also told by the agencies that the agreements are not legally binding, but are “good faith” agreements.
In Nebraska, relative means an individual related to the child within the fifth degree by marriage, blood, or adoption.
Kinship or relative adoptions are a permanent and legal arrangement that is intended to last forever, like all other adoptions.
Birth parents can choose the adoptive family.
A licensed child placing agency must conduct a home study even in kinship adoptions.
Yes, individuals would need to contact licensed child placing agencies and attorneys to determine fees.
The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is a federal law that seeks to keep American Indian children with American Indian families. Congress passed ICWA in 1978 in response to the alarmingly high number of Indian children being removed from their homes by both public and private agencies. The intent of Congress under ICWA was to “protect the best interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families” (25 U.S.C. § 1902). ICWA sets federal requirements that apply to state child custody proceedings involving an Indian child who is a member of or eligible for membership in a federally recognized tribe.