Adopting a Child Legally
Making critical decisions about your alternatives might be aided by being aware of the legal
procedure for adopting a child. The type of adoption, state law, and a variety of other factors influence the legal procedure and associated costs. Regardless of the adoption type, you have the right to speak with a lawyer about your adoption to support you and your family during the procedure.
The Legal Process May Be Affected by the Type of Adoption
Your family must make a number of decisions before starting the adoption process, and those decisions have an impact on the subsequent actions that must be taken.
Type of Child
Filling out your family profile and home study will make it easier to pair you with eligible youngsters. Compared to older children, who typically arrive through international adoption or the state foster care system, infant adoptions are more likely to be private domestic adoptions. Another possibility for a sibling group seeking adoption is an older child. Those who adopt special needs children may receive adoption help.
Services for Domestic or International Adoption
Domestic adoption is less complicated than international adoption, which involves additional processes and may necessitate international travel for at least one prospective parent—and possibly both. When you complete the home study and meet the agency's requirements, your name is added to a list to be given a "referral" for a child. The adoption agency may take preferences into account when deciding which child to place for adoption, but it will ultimately go with its gut instinct.
Do you Prefer Private or Public Adoption?
While a state process places children with adoptive parents through government agencies, a private adoption process entails working with a lawyer or private agency to effectuate an adoption.
Private adoptions typically have shorter waiting times than adoptions through state foster care because reuniting of the child and their biological parent or parents is always the first goal of social services, especially for newborns and small children.
The parents of older children who have spent a lot of time in foster care may already have their parental rights. As a result, the state adoption procedure can become considerably simpler and take less time. However, you may have to foster the child for a number of months or even years before you can either give them back to their real parents or apply for adoption.
Closed versus Open Adoption
Open and closed adoptions are distinguished by how much communication or information is given between the child and their birth family. In contrast to closed adoptions, when the information is sealed and contact is cut off until the child is of legal age, open adoptions allow birth parents to stay in touch with the child or receive updates on how they are doing.
Adoptions that take place abroad are typically closed adoptions. Depending on state law, you might be able to decide on the kind and volume of communication with the kid in domestic adoptions.
Getting Ready for Adoption
Adoption agencies demand a home study when your family starts the official adoption procedure to assess the parents' suitability to meet a child's requirements. A home study often consists of:
federal and state criminal history checks
An evaluation of your financial situation
examinations of both parents' health, if necessary
a visit to the home to make sure it's a suitable and secure place
interviews with all of the adults residing there
Typically, social workers do home studies and report their recommendations to the court and the adoption agency. This procedure typically takes place prior to a child being put in a home for foster children.
The Adoption Procedure for a Child
In a legal adoption, the biological parents of the child lose their parental rights and are given the parental duties instead. To learn more about what to anticipate, talk with your provider lawyer about the adoption procedure as it varies slightly from state to state.
Obtaining the Birth Family's Permission
Obtaining the birth mother's and, if necessary, the father's assent to the adoption is frequently the most challenging, time-consuming, and uncertain step in the entire adoption process. Except in situations where the parents are deceased, have previously relinquished their rights, or the court waives the requirement for parental consent for another reason, the consent of the child's parents is required.
This phase will be facilitated if you are working with a family through a private adoption agency. This is usually already the case with foreign adoption.
Consult with your attorney to learn more about this consent as state laws differ. Additionally, certain states could demand the consent of an older kid before adoption.
Global Adoptions Speed Up the Process
More steps are typically included in state-sponsored adoptions and adoptions from abroad than in private adoptions.
When adopting overseas, the court system of the child's birth country may be used to manage the adoption procedure. You can finish this procedure abroad and bring the child home on an IH-3 visa if both parents are able to go to the nation where the child was born.
To ensure that the child is recognized as yours by the American authorities, your attorney can still advise finishing the adoption procedure here as well.
In some circumstances, the child's native nation may only be ready to grant you an IH-4 visa, which just permits you to leave the country with the child and does not confer parental rights and obligations. When you get home, you might need to continue the adoption procedure.
Submitting a Petition for Adoption
The adoption petition and other documentation, which contains details about you and your spouse, the child you are adopting, the birth parents, and more, can be completed with the assistance of an adoption agency.
You must adhere to state regulations and provide all required papers. This might comprise:
Evidence showing you are aware of your obligations as a parent
evidence of the biological parents' approval for the adoption
Additional documents attesting to the adoption contract
Finalization of Adoption
You might have to show up in front of the judge in court to complete the adoption.
If you appear in court with your child, you will typically be asked questions regarding your capacity to raise and support the child as well as your rights and obligations as a parent while under oath. An attorney can assist in this procedure. Work with a lawyer for adoption
A lawyer can help you through each phase of the adoption process and provide answers to your queries. You already have access to a lawyer who can offer you adoption legal services if you are a LegalShield Member.