Adoption Advertising Laws by State

Adoption advertising law differs by state. As a result, the exact definition of adoption advertising also may differ by state. Generally speaking, advertising is defined as the publication in any public medium, either print or electronic, of either an interest in adopting a child or the availability of a specific child for adoption.

Approximately 33 states currently have laws that limit or regulate the use of advertising.

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Adoption Advertising Law: A Starting Point

The following list of adoption advertising laws can be your starting point when it comes to understanding what you legally can and cannot do when it comes to advertising your desire to adopt. The presentation of this information should NOT be construed as providing legal advice and should NOT be relied upon as you make decisions. Use this information to begin to understand the law and then meet with a qualified adoption attorney before making your final decisions.

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Tips

The “Bottom Line” stated in green or red at the beginning of each section below refers to whether prospective adoptive parents can place adoption ads and not whether others, such as attorneys or agencies, can do the same.

Please also keep in mind that just because you are a resident of a state that prohibits advertising doesn’t necessarily mean you cannot advertise in a state that allows it. Similarly, just because you reside in a state that allows advertising doesn’t mean you can advertise in other states that prohibit it. Discuss these and other specific topics with an experienced adoption attorney.

The following information is from the Child Welfare Information Gateway and according to them at the time of this update (October 2019), is current through August 2015.

Alabama

Bottom Line: Advertising is Prohibited
Citation: Ala. Code § 26-10A-36
It shall be unlawful for any person, organization, corporation, partnership, hospital, association, or agency to advertise verbally, through print, electronic media, or otherwise that they will adopt children or assist in the adoption of children or offer anything of value to the parents of a child in violation of § 26-10A-34.

Alaska

Bottom Line: Advertising is Allowed
This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Arizona

Bottom Line: Advertising is Allowed
This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Arkansas

Bottom Line: Advertising is Allowed
This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

California

Bottom Line: Advertising is Prohibited
Citation: Family Code § 8609(a)
No person or organization may advertise in any periodical or newspaper, by radio, or other public medium that he, she, or it will place or provide children for adoption or cause any advertisement to be published in any public medium soliciting, requesting, or asking for any child or children for adoption, unless that person or organization is licensed to place children for adoption by the Department of Social Services.

Colorado

Bottom Line: Advertising is Allowed
Citation: Rev. Stat. § 19-5-213.5
The term ‘advertise through a public medium’ means to communicate by any public medium such as a newspaper, periodical, telephone book listing, outdoor advertising sign, radio, television, or computerized communication system, including an Internet site, an Internet profile, or any similar medium of communication provided via the Internet.

This section does not apply to an individual who has received a favorable home study recommendation regarding his or her fitness to be an adoptive parent.

Connecticut

Bottom Line: Advertising is Allowed
Citation: Ann. Stat. § 45a-728d
Any prospective adoptive parent may advertise through any public media in this State for placement of a child into his or her care for the purpose of adoption.

Delaware

Bottom Line: Advertising is Prohibited
Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 13, § 930
Only the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families or a licensed agency may advertise in this State regarding the availability of adoption services or for the placement of a child for the purpose of adoption.

District of Columbia

Bottom Line: Advertising is Allowed
This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Florida

Bottom Line: Advertising is Prohibited
Citation: Ann. Stat. § 63.212(1)(g); 63.032
It is unlawful for any person, except an adoption entity, to place an advertisement or offer to the public, in any way, by any medium whatsoever, that a minor is available for adoption or that a minor is sought for adoption. In addition, it is unlawful for any person purchasing advertising space or purchasing broadcast time to advertise adoption services to fail to include in such advertisement the Florida license number of the adoption entity or the Florida Bar number of the attorney placing the advertisement.

The term ‘adoption entity’ includes the Department of Children and Families, a registered child-caring agency, an intermediary, a Florida licensed child-placing agency, or a child-placing agency licensed in another State that also is licensed by the department to place children in the State of Florida.

Georgia

Bottom Line: Advertising is Prohibited
Citation: Ann. Code § 19-8-24(a)(1), (d)
It shall be unlawful for any person, organization, corporation, hospital, or association that has not been established as a child-placing agency by the Department of Human Services to advertise, whether in a periodical, by television, radio, or any other public medium or private means, that the person, organization, corporation, hospital, or association will adopt children or will arrange for children to be placed for adoption.

Individuals seeking to adopt a child or to place their child for adoption may communicate by private means, which include only written letters or oral statements.

Hawaii

Bottom Line: Advertising is Allowed
This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Idaho

Bottom Line: Advertising is Prohibited
Citation: Ann. Code § 18-1512A
No person or entity shall publish or broadcast on radio or television an advertisement or notice of a child or children offered or wanted for adoption, or claim through such advertisement to have the ability to place, locate, dispose, or receive a child or children for adoption, unless the person or entity is a duly authorized agent or employee of the Department of Health and Welfare or an institution licensed by the department to care for and place children.

This section is not intended to prohibit:

  • A licensed attorney from advertising his or her ability to practice or provide services related to the adoption of children
  • Physicians and other health-care providers from assisting or providing natural and adoptive parents with medical care necessary to initiate and complete adoptive placements

Illinois

Bottom Line: Advertising is Allowed
Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 225, § 10/12
Advertise means communication by any public medium originating or distributed in this State, including, but not limited to, newspapers, periodicals, telephone book listings, outdoor advertising signs, radio, or television.

A child care facility or child welfare agency licensed or operating under a permit issued by the Department of Children and Family Services may publish advertisements for the services that the facility is specifically licensed or issued a permit to provide. A person, group of persons, agency, association, organization, corporation, institution, center, or group that advertises or publishes any advertisement offering, soliciting, or promising to perform adoption services is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be subject to a fine, unless they are:

  • Licensed or operating under a permit issued by the department as a child care facility or child welfare agency
  • A birth parent or a prospective adoptive parent acting on his or her own behalf
  • A licensed attorney advertising his or her availability to provide legal services relating to adoption, as permitted by law

Indiana

Bottom Line: Advertising is Prohibited
Citation: Ann. Code § 35-46-1-21
Only a licensed attorney or a licensed child-placing agency may place a paid advertisement or paid listing of a person’s telephone number, on that person’s own behalf, in a telephone directory that a child is offered or wanted for adoption, or that person is able to place, locate, or receive a child for adoption.

Iowa

Bottom Line: Advertising is Allowed
This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Kansas

Bottom Line: Advertising is Allowed
Citation: Ann. Stat. § 59-2123(a)(1), (b)-(c)
Any person who advertises that such person will adopt, find an adoptive home for a child, or otherwise place a child for adoption shall state in such advertisement whether or not such person is licensed and if licensed, under what authority such license is issued and in what profession.

This provision shall not apply to the Kansas Department for Children and Families or to an individual seeking to adopt a child.

The term ‘advertise’ means to communicate by newspaper, radio, television, handbills, placards or other print, broadcast, telephone directory, or electronic medium.

Kentucky

Bottom Line: Advertising is Prohibited
Citation: Rev. Stat. § 199.590(1)
A person, corporation, or association shall not advertise in any manner that it will receive children for the purpose of adoption. A newspaper published, prepared, sold, or distributed in the Commonwealth of Kentucky shall not contain an advertisement that solicits children for adoption or solicits the custody of children.

Louisiana

Bottom Line: Advertising is Prohibited
Citation: Rev. Stat. § 46:1425(A)
It shall be unlawful for any person or organization other than a licensed child-placing agency or a Louisiana-based crisis pregnancy center to advertise through print or electronic media that it will adopt children or assist in the adoption of children.

Maine

Bottom Line: Advertising is Prohibited
Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 18-A, § 9-313
A person may not:

  • Advertise for the purpose of finding a child to adopt or to otherwise take into permanent physical custody
  • Advertise that the person will place a child for adoption or in any other permanent physical placement
  • Advertise for the purpose of finding a person to adopt or otherwise take into permanent custody a particular child

This section does not prohibit:

  • The Department of Health and Human Services or a child-placing agency from advertising in accordance with rules adopted by the department
  • An attorney licensed to practice in this State from advertising the attorney’s availability to practice or provide services relating to the adoption of children

Maryland

Bottom Line: Advertising is Allowed
This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Massachusetts

Bottom Line: Advertising is Prohibited
Citation: Ann. Laws Ch. 210, § 11A
It is unlawful for any person or entity other than a duly authorized agent or employee of the Department of Children and Families or a child care or child-placing agency licensed under the provisions of chapter 15D to cause to be published in the Commonwealth an advertisement or notice of children offered or wanted for adoption, or in any way offer to place, locate, or dispose of children offered or wanted for adoption, or hold himself or herself out in any way as being able to place, locate, or dispose of children for adoption.

Michigan

Bottom Line: Advertising is Allowed
This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Minnesota

Bottom Line: Advertising is Allowed
This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Mississippi

Bottom Line: Advertising is Allowed
Citation: Ann. Code § 43-15-117
No child-placing agency shall advertise in the media markets in Mississippi seeking birth mothers or their children for adoption purposes unless the agency holds a valid and current license. Any child-placing agency, physician, or attorney who advertises for child-placing or adoption services in Mississippi shall be required by the Division of Family and Children’s Services to show their principal office location on all media advertising for adoption services.

Nothing in this section precludes payment of reasonable medical, legal, or other lawful services fees, and for the legal proceedings related to lawful adoption proceedings; and no provision of this section abrogates the right of procedures for independent adoption as provided by law.

Missouri

Bottom Line: Advertising is Allowed
This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Montana

Bottom Line: Advertising is Prohibited
Citation: Ann. Code § 42-7-105(1)(a)
No person, other than the Department of Public Health and Human Services or a licensed child-placing agency, may advertise in any public medium that the person knows of a child who is available for adoption, is willing to accept a child for adoption, or knows of prospective adoptive parents for a child.

Nebraska

Bottom Line: Advertising is Prohibited
Citation: Rev. Stat. § 43-701
Except as otherwise provided in the Nebraska Indian Child Welfare Act, no person other than a parent shall advertise a child for placement unless such person shall be duly licensed by the Department of Health and Human Services under such rules and regulations as the department shall prescribe.

Nevada

Bottom Line: Advertising is Prohibited
Citation: Rev. Stat. § 127.283; 127.310(1)
No person or organization other than a licensed child-placing agency may advertise that he or she will place children for adoption or permanent free care; accept, supply, provide, or obtain children for adoption or permanent free care; or cause any advertisement to be disseminated soliciting, requesting, or asking for any child or children for adoption or permanent free care.

New Hampshire

Bottom Line: Advertising is Allowed
Citation: Rev. Stat. § 170-E:39
A child-placing agency licensed or operating under a permit issued by the Department of Health and Human Services may publish advertisements of the services for which it is specifically licensed or issued a permit under this subdivision.

No person who is required to obtain a license or permit under this subdivision may advertise or cause to be published an advertisement soliciting or offering a child for placement unless the person has obtained the requisite license or permit.

New Jersey

Bottom Line: Advertising is Allowed
This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

New Mexico

Bottom Line: Advertising is Allowed
Citation: Ann. Stat. § 32A-5-42.2
This section does not apply to:

  • The Children, Youth and Families Department or a person authorized to act on behalf of the department
  • An agency licensed by the department
  • An investigator or counselor
  • An attorney licensed in the State who advertises legal services relating to adoption
  • A prospective adoptive parent who is acting alone on the prospective adoptive parent’s own behalf and who has a current, approved preplacement study as required by the department

New York

Bottom Line: Advertising is Allowed
This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

North Carolina

Bottom Line: Advertising is Allowed
Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-10-101(b)-(b1)
No one other than a county department of social services, an adoption facilitator, or a licensed agency may advertise in any periodical or newspaper, or by radio, television, or other public medium, that any person or entity will place or accept a child for adoption.

This article shall not prohibit a person from advertising that the person desires to adopt. This section shall apply only to a person with a current completed preplacement assessment that finds the person suitable to be an adoptive parent.

The advertisement may be published only in a periodical or newspaper or on radio, television, cable television, or the Internet. The advertisement shall include a statement that:

  • Indicates that the person has a completed preplacement assessment
  • Identifies the name of the agency that completed the preplacement assessment
  • Identifies the date the preplacement assessment was completed
  • States whether the person is willing to provide lawful expenses

North Dakota

Bottom Line: Advertising is Prohibited
Citation: Cent. Code § 23-16-08; 50-11-06; 50-19-11; 50-12-17
A person may not advertise, without a license from the Department of Human Services to do so, in any public medium (1) that the person knows of a child who is available for adoption, (2) that the person is willing to accept a child for adoption, or (3) that the person knows of prospective adoptive parents for a child.

Ohio

Bottom Line: Advertising is Allowed
Citation: Rev. Code § 5103.17
The biological parent of a child may advertise the availability for placement of the parent’s child for adoption to a qualified adoptive parent. A qualified adoptive parent may advertise that the qualified adoptive parent is available for placement of a child into the qualified adoptive parent’s care for the purpose of adopting the child. A government entity may advertise about its role in the placement of children for adoption or any other information that would be relevant to qualified adoptive parents.

Oklahoma

Bottom Line: Advertising is Allowed
Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 21, § 866(A)(1)(g)-(h)
The crime of trafficking in children includes:

  • Advertising of services for compensation to assist with the placement of a child for adoption by any person or organization, except by the department or a licensed child-placing agency
  • Advertisements for and solicitation of a woman who is pregnant to induce her to place her child upon birth for adoption, except by a licensed child-placing agency or an attorney

Nothing in this section shall prohibit an attorney from the advertisement of legal services related to the adoption of children. Nothing in this section shall prohibit a person from advertising to solicit a pregnant woman to consider adoptive placement with the person or to locate a child for an adoptive placement into the person’s own home, provided that such person has received a favorable preplacement home study recommendation in accordance with § 7505-5.1 of Title 10, and that no money or other thing of value is offered as an inducement to the adoption.

Oregon

Bottom Line: Advertising is Allowed
Citation: Rev. Stat. § 109.311(4)
It is unlawful for any person to advertise a child offered or wanted for adoption or to advertise that the person is able to place, locate, dispose of, or receive a child for adoption. The provisions of this section do not apply to:

  • The State Office for Services to Children and Families or a licensed Oregon adoption agency or an agent, employee, or person with whom the Office or adoption agency has a contract authorizing such actions
  • A person who has completed a home study and has received a favorable recommendation regarding the fitness of the person to be an adoptive parent or the person’s attorney or uncompensated agent

Pennsylvania

Bottom Line: Advertising is Allowed
This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Rhode Island

Bottom Line: Advertising is Allowed
This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

South Carolina

Bottom Line: Advertising is Allowed
Citation: Ann. Code. § 63-9-70
No person or entity other than the Department of Social Services, a child-placing agency licensed in this State, or an attorney licensed in this State may advertise that the person or entity will place or accept a child for adoption.

Notwithstanding the provisions above, a person is not prohibited from advertising that the person desires to adopt if the person has a current preplacement home investigation finding that the person is suitable to be an adoptive parent.

The term ‘advertise’ means to communicate by newspaper, radio, television, hand bills, placards or other print, broadcast, or electronic medium that originates within this State.

South Dakota

Bottom Line: Advertising is Allowed
This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Tennessee

Bottom Line: Advertising is Allowed
Citation: Ann. Code. § 36-1-108(a)(2)
Only a licensed child-placing agency, a licensed clinical social worker, prospective adoptive parents, or a lawyer who is subject to the Tennessee supreme court rules regarding lawyer advertising may advertise for the placement of children for adoption in this State.

In order to advertise for the placement of children for adoption in Tennessee, out-of-State licensed child-placing agencies, licensed clinical social workers, or lawyers must:

  • Be authorized to do business in this State under respective licensing laws
  • Maintain a physical office within this State or incur expenses involved in the transportation of a licensing consultant to the closest physical office of the agency, social worker, or lawyer

Any advertisement in this State for the placement of children for adoption in another State by an agency or individual not licensed or authorized to do such business in this State shall clearly state that the agency or individual is not licensed or authorized to do such business in this State.

Texas

Bottom Line: Advertising is Prohibited
Citation: Penal Code § 25.09
A person commits an offense if the person advertises in the public media that the person will place a child for adoption or will provide or obtain a child for adoption. This section does not apply to a licensed child-placing agency that is identified in the advertisement as a licensed child-placing agency.

Public media includes newspapers or other periodicals, billboards or other signs, radio or television broadcasts, or communications through the use of the Internet or another public computer network.

Utah

Bottom Line: Advertising is Prohibited
Citation: Ann. Code § 62A-4a-602(2)(b)
An attorney, physician, or other person may not:

  • Issue, or cause to be issued, a card, sign, or device to any person indicating that he or she is available to provide child-placing assistance
  • Cause, permit, or allow any sign or marking on or in any building or structure indicating that he or she is available to provide child-placing assistance
  • Announce—or cause, permit, or allow an announcement—in any newspaper, magazine, directory, or on radio or television indicating that he or she is available to provide child-placing assistance
  • Advertise by any other means that he or she is available to provide child-placing assistance

Vermont

Bottom Line: Advertising is Allowed
This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Virginia

Bottom Line: Advertising is Allowed
Citation: Ann. Code § 63.2-1218; 63.2-1225
No person shall advertise or solicit to perform any activity prohibited by this section. Any person violating the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a felony.

A physician, attorney, or member of the clergy shall not charge any fee for recommending [a placement of a child for adoption] to a board or agency and shall not advertise that he or she is available to make such recommendations. An attorney may, however, charge for legal fees and services rendered in connection with the placement.

Washington

Bottom Line: Advertising is Allowed
Citation: Rev. Code § 26.33.400(1)-(2)
No person or entity shall cause to be published for circulation, or broadcast on a radio or television station, an advertisement of a child or children offered or wanted for adoption, or shall hold himself or herself out through such advertisement as having the ability to place, locate, dispose, or receive a child or children for adoption unless such person or entity is:

  • A duly authorized agent, contractee, or employee of the department or a children’s agency or institution, licensed by the department to care for and place children
  • A person who has a completed preplacement report with a favorable recommendation as to the fitness of the person to be an adoptive parent

West Virginia

Bottom Line: Advertising is Allowed
This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Wisconsin

Bottom Line: Advertising is Allowed
Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.825
The term ‘advertise’ means to communicate by any public medium that originates within this State, including by newspaper, periodical, telephone book listing, outdoor advertising sign, radio, or television, or by any computerized communication system, including by electronic mail, Internet site, Internet account, or any similar medium of communication provided via the Internet.

The term ‘Internet account’ means an account created within a bounded system established by an Internet-based service that requires a user to input or store access information in an electronic device in order to view, create, use, or edit the users account information, profile, display, communications, or stored data.

No person may do any of the following:

  • Advertise for the purpose of finding a child to adopt or to otherwise take into permanent physical custody
  • Advertise that the person will find an adoptive home or any other permanent physical placement for a child or arrange for or assist in the adoption, adoptive placement, or any other permanent physical placement of a child
  • Advertise that the person will place a child for adoption or in any other permanent physical placement

This section does not apply to any of the following:

  • The Department of Children and Families or a child welfare agency
  • An individual or agency providing adoption information • A foster care and adoption resource center
  • An individual who has received a favorable recommendation regarding his or her fitness to be an adoptive parent in this State

No person may publish by a public medium an advertisement that violates this section. Nothing in this section prohibits an attorney licensed to practice in this State from advertising his or her availability to practice or provide services relating to the adoption of children.

Wyoming

Bottom Line: Advertising is Allowed
This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.