CHAPTER 187 - PARENTS AND CHILDREN

AN ACT TO AMEND CHAPTER 88, ARTICLE 2 OF THE REVISED CODE OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE OF 1935 RELATING TO PARENTS AND CHILDREN AND EFFECTING ADOPTION PROCEDURE.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Delaware, in General Assembly met:

Section 1. Paragraph 3550, Section 3 of Chapter 88, Article 2 of the Revised Code of the State of Delaware of 1935 is hereby amended by striking out all of said Paragraph 3550, Section 3 of said Chapter 88, Article 2 thereof and by inserting in lieu thereof the following paragraph to be known as Paragraph 3550, Section 3.

3550, Section 3. Proceedings For; Jurisdiction of Orphans' Court; Contents of Petition of Adoption; Investigation:--A resident of this State who is over twenty-one years of age and not married, or a husband and wife residents of this State (if not legally separated) jointly, may petition the Orphans' Court of the county in which the petitioner or petitioners reside for an order authorizing the petitioner or petitioners to adopt a minor child or children not theirs by birth, and, if desired, for authority to change the name of such child or children. A written consent, duly acknowledged, must be given to such adoption by the child or children if of the age of fourteen years or over, and by each of his or her known living parents who is not hopelessly insane or otherwise incapacitated from giving such consent, or is not habitually addicted to the use of drugs or intoxicating liquors, or who has not abandoned such child or children, or has not lost custody of the child or children to the order of a court; or if the parents are dead or disqualified, as aforesaid, then by a legal guardian, or if there be no such guardian, then by a suitable person appointed by the Orphans' Court to act in the proceedings as the next friend of such child or children, or the consent may be given by the State Board of Charities. If such parents or guardian join in said petition, it shall be deemed a consent in writing. For the purpose of carrying out the meaning of this Section, the word abandon as hereinbefore referred to and stated shall be and is hereby defined as follows to wit: An abandoned child shall mean a child who is abandoned or deserted in any place by both parents or by the parent having his or her custody, or by any other person or persons lawfully charged with his or her care or custody, and left (1) in destitute circumstances, or (2) without proper food, shelter or clothing, or (3) without being visited or having payments made toward his or her support, for a period of at least one year, by his or her parents, guardian or other lawful custodian without good reason.

The petition shall state the name of the petitioner or petitioners, the place of residence thereof, the name and age of the child or children, whom it is sought to adopt, the name of the parents of such child or children if living and/or known; if the parents are not living and/or are not known, the name of the guardian or person having custody of such child or children at the time of the commencement of the adoption proceedings. Such petition must state that the petitioner or petitioners are financially able and morally fit to have the care, supervision, and training of said child or children whom it is sought to adopt. If it is desired to change the name of said child or children, the petition shall so state. The petition filed in adoption causes shall be in substantially the following form:

PETITION FOR ADOPTION

To the Hon. _______ Judge of the Orphans' Court of the County of ________

Your petitioners, the undersigned, residents of the county of ________ respectfully apply for an order permitting them to adopt as their own child _________ a minor child aged ______ years, who is the child of ________ and who is now ____________

Your petitioners represent that they are financially able and morally fit to have the care, supervision and training of said child, and desire that the name of the said child shall be changed to ______________________

________________________

________________________

Petitioners

Address of petitioners:

________________________

________________________

Address of Parents and Guardians:

________________________

________________________

Address of Child:

I, the undersigned _________ of the above mentioned child, do hereby consent to the adoption prayed for.

________________________

Mother, Father, Legal Guardian, Next Friend,

State Board of Charities

Witness __________________ Address ___________________

____________________________________________________

I, the undersigned ___________ the above mentioned child; being aged 14 years or over, do hereby consent to the adoption above prayed for.

_________________________

Child

Witness _______________ Address _____________________

__________________________________________________

To the Clerk of the Orphans' Court:

Enter an order of reference to _________________ for investigation and report.

__________________________

Judge Orphans' Court

Investigation and Procedure:--Upon the filing of the foregoing petition, the Court shall by appropriate order in the form of an Order of Reference direct an agent of the State Board of Charities or some person accredited by the State Board of Charities, to make a careful and thorough investigation of the matter and report his or her findings in writing to the said Court within sixty days from the date of such order of reference and in such investigation shall make the inquiries required by the act of the General Assembly.

The Order of Reference shall be in the following form:

ORDER OF REFERENCE

In the Orphans' Court of the County of ______________

_____________________ 19___

In the Matter of the Proposed Adoption of an Infant ___________

This day came ___________ and _____________ his wife, residents of the County of _________ and filed their joint petition praying leave to adopt a minor child, bearing the name of ______ not theirs by birth, under the age of twenty-one years, to wit: of the age of ________ the child of ______ and for a change of name of said child to _______ to which petition is attached the written consent, duly acknowledged of _____________

Whereupon it is ordered that ___________ do make a careful and thorough investigation of this matter, and report the findings in writing to the Court within sixty days from the date of issuance of this order, and in such investigation shall make the inquiries required by the Act of the General Assembly.

_________________________

Judge

A copy, Teste:

An extention of the time within which to file said report by the investigator may be extended by the Judge of the Court upon request of said investigator showing the cause or reason therefor.

The person so directed to make such investigation shall make inquiry, among other things, as to:

a. Information why the parents or guardian of the child or children desire adoption.

b. Whether or not such parents or guardians have abdicated control over the child or children, or whether conditions would make this advisable.

c. Whether any person, organization, or agency of any sort which has had any part in the negotiations has received or expects to receive any fee in connection therewith except for the due professional performance of legal or medical services.

d. Information regarding the foster home; to include the emotional, moral, financial, intellectual, and health standards of such home, and religious affiliations.

e. Data on the physical and mental conditions of the child or children.

f. Summary on the suitability of the child to the home, including suitability of religious affiliations.

g. Whether the placement is for the best interests of the child.

The report on proposed adoption by the investigator shall be in the following form:

REPORT ON PROPOSED ADOPTION

To the Hon. _________ Judge of the Orphans' Court of County of _________

Report on the findings of _______________ upon the petition of________ and __________ his wife, in reference to the proposed adoption of ______ of the age of _________ as required by the Act of the General Assembly.

1. Information why the parents or guardian of the child or children desire adoption.

2. Whether or not such parents or guardians have abdicated control over the child or children, or whether conditions would make this advisable.

3. Whether any person, organization, or agency of any sort which has had any part in the negotiations has received or expects to receive any fee in connection therewith except for the due professional performance of legal or medical services.

4. Information regarding the foster home. To include the emotional, moral, financial, intellectual, and health standards of such home, and religious affiliations.

5. Data on the physical and mental conditions of the child or children.

Section 2. Paragraph 3551, Section 4 of Chapter 88, Article 2 of the Revised Code of the State of Delaware of 1935 is hereby amended by striking out all of said Paragraph 3551, Section 4 of said Chapter 88, Article 2 thereof and by inserting in lieu thereof a new paragraph to be known as Paragraph 3551, Section 4.

3551. Section 4. Order of Adoption; Interlocutory Order; Final Order; Revocation of:--If the Court is satisfied at a hearing, at which all interested persons may be present or represented, that the natural parents or guardians have just cause for desiring to be relieved of the care, support, guardianship of said child, or have abandoned the child, or are morally unfit to retain its custody; that it appears from the investigation made that the petitioner -or petitioners is or are duly qualified, especially in the particulars set forth, to have the care, supervision and training of such child or children; that such child or children is or are suitable for adoption in this private family home, that such family and the child are suited to one another by religious affiliations; that such change of name and guardianship is for the best interests of said child or children; that no person or agency of any sort which has had any part in the negotiations has received or expects to receive any fee in connection therewith except for the due professional performance of legal or medical services, then in such case the Court shall make an interlocutory order, setting forth its findings and decreeing that from the date of the final order of adoption in such case, if such final order be entered, as hereinafter provided, such child or children to all legal intents and purposes whatsoever, will be the child or children of the petitioner or petitioners, and its or their name may be thereby changed.

The Interlocutory Order of Adoption shall be in the following form:

INTERLOCUTORY ORDER OF ADOPTION

In the Orphans' Court of the County of _________

___________ 19__ .

In the matter of the petition of ________ and _______, his wife, for the proposed adoption of _______ an infant.

The Court having duly considered the report of ________, the investigator in this matter, as to the proposed adoption of _______ an infant of the age of _______ doth order and declare that from the date of the final order of adoption in this case, if such final order be afterwards entered, the said child, to all legal intents and purposes, will be the child of the said petitioners, and that its name be thereby changed to ___________ as provided by the Act of the General Assembly.

And the Court doth allow the said petitioners to have the care and custody of said infant, to live in the proposed home, for the period of one year from this date, without molestation of any sort, except as this Court shall allow or as may be required by law.

_________________________

Judge

A copy, Teste:

Upon the expiration of the period of one year from the date of the filing of the preliminary report, the Judge, being satisfied that all proceedings have been taken in conformity with the provisions of this Act and that the interest of all concerned are duly regarded, shall enter a final decree of adoption in the case, which shall be in form as follows:

FINAL DECREE OF ADOPTION

In the Orphans' Court of the County of _________

Upon the petition of _______________ and ________ his wife, and with the consent of _________________ the Court doth allow the said petitioners to adopt as their own child ________, not theirs by birth, a ______ infant, under the age of twenty-one years, to-wit; of the age of ____ and the Court being fully satisfied as to the fitness and propriety of such adoption, and as to the financial ability of the said petitioners to bring up and properly educate the said child, doth declare that from this date the said child, to all legal intents and purposes, is the child of the said petitioners, and that the said child shall be named ___________

__________________________

Judge

A copy, Teste:

Such final order of Adoption shall not be granted until the child or children shall have lived for one year in the proposed home under the care and protection and as the child in fact of such petitioner or petitioners; and shall have been visited during said period as often as within the discretion of the State Board of Charities is deemed necessary, by the person who was previously designated by the Court to make the investigation required by this Section; if such person is unavailable for any reason, then by a person having the same qualifications as such person, provided, however, that in the event the child has lived in the home of the petitioner or petitioners for a period of one year or more prior to the filing of the petition for adoption, the State Board of Charities may recommend that the issuance of the Interlocutory order of Adoption be waived and the Final Decree issued forthwith in the Court's discretion, when in such instance the necessity for a visit during the Interlocutory period, as hereinbefore provided, shall likewise be waived. At any time before the entry of the final order of adoption the Court may revoke its interlocutory order for good cause either of its own motion or on the motion of the natural parents or guardians of such child or by the original petitioner or petitioners or the child itself by its next friend; provided, however, no such revocation shall be entered unless and until ten days' notice in writing shall have been given to the original petitioner or petitioners (unless he or they make the motion), or have removed from the State or unless the original petitioner or petitioners, if residents of the State, shall have been given an opportunity to be heard; and further provided, that desire to withdraw consent once given as part of the petition in the proceedings shall not be considered good cause for revocation of the said interlocutory order.

In the event of any Court in any County of the State of Delaware having sanctioned the adoption of any individual, by the issuance of a Final Decree of Adoption, under the conditions of the assumption on the part of the individual of any name or names other than those under which the birth of the individual is or may be registered with the State Registrar of the State of Delaware, the Clerk of the Court in which such application was made shall immediately file in the office of said State Registrar a report indicating and setting forth the name given to the child at its birth, the name given to it by the Court permitting or legalizing the adoption and the date of the issuance of the Final Order of Adoption; and no other or additional information shall be required in connection with the filing of said report by said Clerk. Upon request of the adopted child, if of age, or if not of age then by his or her legal guardian; or upon request of the adopting parent or parents, or if they be deceased, then by their legal representative, duly authorized and empowered to act, the said State Registrar shall issue a birth certificate setting forth the adopted name of the child together with the names of the adopting parents and the actual date of the birth of said child. Nothing in this act, however, shall be construed in such a manner as to permit the said State Registrar to issue such a birth certificate to anyone other than those herein specifically mentioned and referred to.

Upon the entry of the Final Decree of Adoption, the Clerk of the Orphans' Court shall mail to the State Board of Charities a certified copy of the action taken, giving the names and addresses of the natural parents, if known, or of the child's nearest of kin, the age and the name of such child both before and after adoption, and the names and addresses of the foster parents.

The natural parents or previous guardian shall, by such final order of adoption, be divested of all legal rights and obligations in respect to the child, and the child shall be free from all legal obligations of obedience and maintenance in respect to them. Such child shall, from and after the entry of the interlocutory order herein provided for, be, to all intents and purposes, the child and heir at law of the person so adopting him or her, unless and until such order is subsequently revoked, entitled to all the rights and privileges and subject to all the obligations of a child of such person begotten in lawful wedlock; but on the decease of such person and the subsequent decease of such adopted child without issue, the property of such adopting parent still undisposed of shall descend to his or her next of kin, and not to the next of kin of such adopted child.

If, at any time after the final order of the court permitting such adoption and change of name the adopting parents, the child himself if of 21 years of age, or any individual or agency believes that for just cause an adoption should be revoked, the Judge of the Orphans' Court shall require an agent of the State Board of Charities or some person accredited by the State Board of Charm ties, to make a complete investigation of the reasons for annulment and submit his findings in writing to the Court, which shall then hear the testimony of all concerned. If it shall appear, based on these findings and givings due consideration to the intention of this Act to provide a means whereby adoption shall create a permanent and lasting relationship not to be placed in jeopardy, nor terminated except for obvious and grave causes, that the revocation sought is manifestly just and proper and for the best interests of the child, the Court may, in its discretion, vacate said final order of Adoption and change of name. Thereupon, such child shall be restored to the position and name which it held before such final order of adoption.

And the Court shall see that all the property rights of such child, as well as of the person or persons adopting it, are protected and may make such order as may be proper in the premises so that no injustice may be done.

Following the execution of the Final Decree of Adoption by the Judge, the Clerk of the Orphans' Court shall issue a Certificate of Adoption, which shall be in form as follows:

CERTIFICATE OF ADOPTION

State of Delaware

County ss:

I, __________________, Clerk of the Orphans' Court of the State of Delaware in and for _________________ County, being by law a court of competent jurisdiction, do hereby certify that under and by virtue of certain proceedings in said Court on the _________ day of ________ in the year of our Lord One Thousand Nine Hundred and ________ the said Court did Decree the issuance to ___________ of a certificate of the adoption of _________ hereafter to be known as ________ a _______ child _______ of age and did further order and decree that thenceforth and forever the said child should be known by the name of ______ and that all the duties, rights, privileges and obligations recognized by law between parent and child should exist between parent and child should exist between the said _____ as fully and to all intents and purposes as if the said ________ were the lawful and natural offspring or issue of the said ________

In Testimony Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and the seal of said Court, at _______ this _______ day of _______, in the year of our Lord One Thousand Nine Hundred and __

___________________________

Clerk of Orphans' Court

Approved May 20, 1937.