File for adoption

Adopting a child requires a great deal of attention. Find out what you need to get started.

Probate and Family Court

The Details

What you need

We strongly recommend you find a lawyer to assist you with the adoption process.

You will need to file your adoption with your local Probate Family Court.

Sometimes adoptions are filed in Juvenile Court or in District Court. Adoptions are filed in Juvenile Court only when they have a pending case involving that child, usually through a care and protection that moves to a termination of rights case. Gloucester and Brookline District Courts retained their jurisdiction over juvenile matters, but they are exceptions to the general rule.

You will need to submit the following forms:

  • Petition for Adoption and Affidavit of Petitioner for Adoption (available with your local court)
  • Court Activity Record Information (CARI) Record Check (available with your local court)
  • Affidavit Disclosing Care or Custody Proceedings 

In addition:

Following the above form filings, you must respond to a Federal and Central Registers of Missing Children Search Request. The court will send this to you after you have filed the other forms. You must then send your response to the Department of Children and Families (DCF). DCF will then perform a search and make sure your intended child was not reported missing.

There is no filing fee for an adoption. However, you will need to pay the sheriff or constable for providing notice. These costs will vary.

How to file

All applicable forms should be submitted to your local court. However, please note that other documents may be required from additional agencies. See our Related Links for more information.

To find your local court, click here.

Forms may mailed to your respective local court. However, please note that other documents may be required from additional agencies. See our Related Links for more information.

To find your local court, click here.

More info

Please note that the following documents may be required given particular circumstances:

  1. If you are married: Certified copy of your Marriage Certificate. This is available from the Registry of Vital Records  or from the city or town where you were married.
  2. If you are divorced: Certified copy of your Divorce Judgment. You can get this from the Probate and Family Court where your divorce was filed. (Find your local Probate and Family court with our location listings page.) You will need the names of the people, the approximate date of the divorce, and if you have it, the docket number. The fee is $20.00 for a certified copy plus one dollar per page for every page except the first.
  3. If you are asking the court to waive the Home Study: Motion to Waive Investigation Report of Department of Children and Families (DCF).  
  4. If you are adopting a child whose birth mother wasn’t married and the birth father has not signed a surrender: Affidavit from DCF Regarding a Search of the Parental Responsibility Claims. This is a document DCF will provide to you.
  5. If either of the parents gave up legal rights to the child: Surrender Forms. The surrender form must be in the proper format. A parent cannot surrender a child until four days after the date of birth of the child to be adopted. It must be signed in front of a notary public with two witnesses watching, and the birth parent must have chosen at least one of these witnesses. (See G.L. c.210, s.2 for more information.)
  6. If a court ended the legal rights of one or both parents: Certified copies of Judgments from Other Legal Proceedings. You will need to obtain and include a copy of the court judgment from that court.

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