Ask An Adoption Attorney: Where Do States Draw The Line On Advertising By Hopeful Adoptive Parents?

This is the first post in an ongoing series called “Ask An Adoption Attorney“–your open adoption questions answered by a legal expert.  This week, we had two attorneys weigh in on the following question from Tracy:

In Maine it is not legal to advertise for adoption, but advertising isn’t defined. Would placing an adoption business card or a flyer on a bulletin board be considered advertising? Or is advertising typically something you pay for? What about mailing your information to people you are only acquainted with, like your dentist, for example? Just wondering where that line is…

Please note: the following responses are posted for general informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional legal advice.

Adoption Attorney Judith Berry

You are correct that Maine prohibits advertising and soliciting for adoptions, except for Maine adoption agencies. The adoption laws do not define what constitutes advertising or soliciting; however common usage of terms do not explicitly include payments made. Thus, the strict interpretation of the statute would indicate that placing ads or business cards in community bulletin boards would be “advertising” or “soliciting”.

However nothing in the statutes prohibit an individual from contacting  persons directly known to you of your interest in adopting, such as what you may do with friends and family. Since adoptive parents are at risk emotionally, financially and legally, the best and safest course in any adoption is to strictly follow the letter of the law.

Judith M. Berry has practiced adoption and surrogacy law in Maine for over twenty years. She is a fellow in the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys and the American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys. She was an adoption social worker before becoming an attorney and is also an adoptive parent.


Adoption Attorney Steven G. Dubin

You want to avoid anything with even a “tinge” of impropriety. You would never want to do anything that could possibly jeopardize the creation of your family, from start to finish. Advertising statues vary from state to state; you would want to select only a jurisdiction that allows advertising,  so that you can follow through the entire process of adjudicating the adoption, if you choose to start your adoption journey in this manner.

My best advice would be to use an adoption professional, who can explain to you and advise you the options you have, including which jurisdictions you can advertise as well as finalize your adoption,  what you can expect regarding expenses and termination of parental rights in various localities.

Steven G. Dubin is a graduate of Delaware Law School of Widener University 1977.  He has been practicing adoption law for almost 25 years and received the Angel in Adoptions Award in 2007. He and his wife are proud adoptive parents of two sons. 


If you have an open adoption question you would like an attorney to answer or if you are an attorney who would like to answer future questions, please leave your question or comment in the section below or send us an email any time.