Montana Title 42. Adoption § 42-2-409. Counseling requirements

(1) Counseling of the birth mother is required in department, agency, and direct parental placement adoptions.  If any other parent is involved in an adoptive placement, counseling of that parent is encouraged.

(2) Counseling must be performed by a person employed by the department or by a staff person of a licensed child-placing agency designated to provide this type of counseling.  Unless the counseling requirement is waived for good cause by a court, a minimum of 3 hours of counseling must be completed prior to execution of a relinquishment of parental rights and consent to adopt.  A relinquishment and consent to adopt executed prior to completion of required counseling is void.

(3) During counseling, the counselor shall offer an explanation of:

(a) adoption procedures and options that are available to a parent through the department or licensed child-placing agencies;

(b) adoption procedures and options that are available to a parent through direct parental placement adoptions, including the right to an attorney and that legal expenses are an allowable expense that may be paid by a prospective adoptive parent as provided in 42-7-101 and 42-7-102 ;

(c) the alternative of parenting rather than relinquishing the child for adoption;

(d) the resources that are available to provide assistance or support for the parent and the child if the parent chooses not to relinquish the child;

(e) the legal and personal effect and impact of terminating parental rights and of adoption;

(f) the options for contact and communication between the birth family and the adoptive family;

(g) postadoptive issues, including grief and loss, and the existence of a postadoptive counseling and support program;

(h) the reasons for and importance of providing accurate medical and social history information under 42-3-101 ;

(i) the operation of the confidential intermediary program;  and

(j) the fact that the adoptee may be provided with a copy of the original birth certificate upon request after reaching 18 years of age unless the birth parent has specifically requested in writing that the vital statistics bureau withhold release of the original birth certificate.  The birth parent may change the request at any time by notifying the vital statistics bureau in writing of the change.

(4) The counselor shall prepare a written report containing a description of the topics covered and the number of hours of counseling.  The report must specifically include the counselor's opinion of whether or not the parent understood all of the issues and was capable of informed consent.  The report must, on request, be released to the person counseled, to the department, to an agency, or with the consent of the person counseled, to an attorney for the prospective adoptive parents.


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