Wisconsin Adoption Laws and Policies

Who Can Adopt in Wisconsin?

A single adult, a married couple jointly, or the child’s stepparent.

Domestic Adoption Laws in Wisconsin

Can adoptive parents advertise for birth parents? Yes. Only home studied parents and Wisconsin-licensed agencies may advertise, not facilitators or agencies from other states.

Can out-of-state residents finalize an adoption? No.

Can adopting parents use an adoption facilitator or another paid intermediary? Yes, but adopting parents may only use a licensed agency.

What birth parent expenses may be paid, and in what time period? Medical, legal, pre- and post-adoption counseling. Up to $5,000 living. Post finalization payments must be court-approved. Birth mother gift up to $100. In interstate placements, law of birthparent’s home state applies to expenses. Payments may be made to third parties.

Is there a putative father registry? Yes.

When can consent to adoption be granted? Birth mothers: any time after birth, in court; adjudicated/presumed father: any time after birth, in court; putative father: any time after birth, does not need to be in court. Court must hold hearing after birth and within 30 days of filing petition to terminate rights.

When does consent become irrevocable? If consent is revoked, is return to birth parent automatic? When the judge signs the order terminating rights. 30 days to appeal on basis of fraud, mistake, undue coercion or inadvertence. Return is automatic, unless the birth mother chooses another placement option, such as foster care.

Are post-adoption contact agreements legally enforceable? Not addressed in state statutes.

International Adoption Laws in Wisconsin

Is a foreign adoption decree automatically recognized by the state? The State Dept. must approve the adoption placement.

Can parents readopt in this state? Is it mandatory? Yes, as long as the foreign adoption is valid. There is no mention of whether or not it’s mandatory in the state statutes.

When will a U.S. birth certificate be issued? The State Registrar will, upon request, issue a birth certificate for a child with adopting parents that reside in Wisconsin at the time of the adoption upon receipt of proof of the date and place of birth of the child.

Adoption From Foster Care in Wisconsin

Are adoption subsidies available? When do they start and how long do they last? Yes, adoption subsidies are available for a special needs child, who is defined as having at least one of the following: 10 years or older, member of a hard-to-place minority race, member of a sibling group of 3 or more children that are being placed together, has or is at high-risk of developing moderate or intensive “special need characteristics”. Adoption subsidies differ for American Indian children. Adoption subsidies begin at adoption placement and before adoption finalization.

Where can I learn more about the process of adopting a child from foster care in Wisconsin?  http://dcf.wisconsin.gov/children/adoption/default.htm

Wisconsin Adoption Unit

Program Manager: Katie Sepnieski

1 West Wilson Street
Madison, Wisconsin 53703-3445
Phone: (608) 266-9024


DISCLAIMER: The state laws and policies outlined above are offered to readers only for general information and do not constitute legal advice. Furthermore, the state laws were accurate at the time of compilation, but The Current Initiative cannot guarantee that there have been no subsequent changes or revisions to the laws. Please do not rely on the information above without first consulting an adoption attorney licensed in your state. Updated in November 2014.

(Source: https://www.adoptivefamilies.com/how-to-adopt/wisconsin-adoption-laws/)