To adopt a prison baby, the child must be available for adoption because the parents have placed the child for adoption or parental rights are severed. Anyone adopting a baby born in prison follows the adoption rules and guidelines established by their state of residence and the state of residence of the child’s birth parents. Each state must approve the adoption, according to the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.
Laws regarding adoption of all children vary by state. Inmates choosing to place their baby for adoption often go through a state agency or state approved agency. Private adoption may be an option, but some states limit when it is allowed and have limitations on the private adoption process.
Most incarcerated women giving birth inside prison lose physical custody of the infant soon after delivery. Inmates giving birth in a non-prison hospital lose physical custody within 48 hours of delivery. Family members of the birth parents or an approved non-family member take custody of the child, or the infant goes into foster care. As of 2015, prison systems in 10 states have nursery programs allowing women who deliver babies while incarcerated to keep the child. Depending on the state, incarcerated mothers keep children from 30 days to 30 months.