Adoption is a court process where an adult becomes legally identified as the parent of a child who is not their biological child. Adoption legally appoints a parent-child relationship for all purposes, including child support obligations, inheritance rights, and custody. Legal regulations regarding adoption differ from state to state and country to country.
Who Can Adopt?
Normally, any adult deemed “fit” to be a parent may adopt. Yet, as stated above, laws controlling adoption differ from state to state. Some people may encounter more barriers when trying to adopt, depending on the state in which they live. For instance, a single man or a gay/lesbian couple may have a more challenging time adopting a kid than a heterosexual married couple. This may happen based on the regulations of each state where the adoption proceedings are continuing.
What Is a Typical Adoption Process?
The standard adoption process is conducted in mostly the same manner in all states. Whether the adoption is managed by an agency or privately through independent parties, a court must be involved in the adoption process. The following should be reviewed carefully:
- Understanding State Laws and Different Types of Adoption: Before you start the adoption process, you should learn about the various types of adoption available to you and the rules that oversee your chosen kind of adoption in the state where you live. Regulations differ from state to state, so understanding the applicable rules is essential to ensuring that you take the required steps to carry through the adoption process without any problems.
- Financial Issues: It is essential to understand the financial prerequisites for the type of adoption you undertake. These include the costs for the adoption agency filing fee and attorney expenses if you have an attorney represent you through the process.
- Petition Filing: Once you have decided on the kind of adoption you would like and have found the perfect kid to adopt, you will need to file a petition with the court for approval of the adoption of the adoptive kid. After a petition is filed, the court will schedule an opportunity for a hearing to decide whether or not it will approve of your adoption.
- Notice Requirement: All the parties interested in the adoption, including the birth parents, must receive notice before the hearing.
- Adoption Hearing: The adoption hearing authorizes the court to decide whether the adoption is in the child’s best interest. It is up to the prospective parents to demonstrate to the judge that the kid will be in a better place if the adoption goes through. If they are satisfied by the facts shown, the judge will issue an order, called a final decree of adoption, that endorses and completes the adoption.
What Is an Agency Adoption?
An agency adoption happens when a kid is left with an agency that assists in finding the child a home. The bulk of adoption cases are processed through an adoption agency. These agencies can either be run privately or publicly as a government entity located in the child’s state. There are significant differences between private and public adoption. However, the one aspect that both share is that an agency adoption process involves a great deal of time, resources, and patience on the part of the parties involved.
The following outlines the major differences between public and private agency adoption:
- Operated by charity organizations or privately-funded social service institutions that place kids specifically brought to them by parents who want to give their kids up for adoption
- More counseling services for parents and youth
- Newborns and infants are permitted to be adopted
- More pricey than public, state-run agencies
- Substantially long waiting lists
- High selectivity when examining prospective parents
- Lower prices than private adoption agencies
- The kids have already become wards of the state or have been put in orphanages due to abuse or desertion in their homes, and many of them are older or have special needs.
- Adoptive parents may be given a small stipend through the state for partaking in the public adoption process
- The process for approving parents is not as selective as compared to private agencies
Agency adoptions demand a waiting period wherein, before granting the adoption, there is a time when agency personnel will assess the prospective parents. This involves a “home study” of the prospective parents, where the house and living arrangements for the kid are analyzed.
This evaluation aims to ensure that the prospective parents provide a sturdy and healthy environment for the youth. Further, the waiting period is provided in those states where the birth parents of the adoptive kid are granted a grace period. This period allows the birth parents to meditate on putting their child up for adoption and decide whether they want to persist with the adoption process or withdraw their agreement and take their kid back from the agency. The waiting period could also be because there is a long waiting list of individuals who want to adopt a kid.
What Is an International Adoption?
An intentional adoption occurs when people adopt a juvenile who is a citizen of another country. The adoptive parents, in this case, must fulfill the adoption requirements for the United States and the country where the kid was born. Therefore, international adoptions are far from automatic because adoptive parents must deal with the adoption regulations of the country where the kid was born, which differ from country to country. Many countries, such as China and South Korea, have well-established adoption processes for international adoptions. Other countries, nevertheless, expressly prohibit international adoptions.
Parents in the U.S. are generally recommended to locate a licensed adoption agency or lawyer to work with in finding a kid. Each agency or lawyer will work with a different set of countries. Adoptions must materialize according to the Hague Adoption Convention, an international treaty related to adoption issues. The U.S. government must accredit the adoption agency or lawyer if the child’s country is also participating in the Hague Convention.
As part of the international adoption process, a dossier is prepared, containing details about the prospective parents as instructed by the child’s native country. This info usually includes a background check, fingerprints, home evaluation by a social worker, information from the adoptive parents’ physician concerning health problems, and other information helpful for review.
What Is an Identified Adoption?
An identified adoption is when the birth mother has selected the family she wishes to adopt her child. The birth mother may complete this by reviewing information about multiple couples before selecting one. The birth mother may or may not meet the adoptive parents she has selected. In identified adoptions, the adopting parents and the birth mother typically choose one another and then have an adoption agency take over the remainder of the adoption procedure.
What Is a Relative Adoption?
Relative adoption is a kind of adoption where a relative adopts the kid. Grandparents and new spouses are the most likely to pursue this type of adoption. These adoptions are usually the most straightforward to process because the state seldom wants to interfere with a familial connection that probably already exists.
Each state defines the term “relative” differently and may include relatives by blood, marriage, or adoption ranging from the first to fifth degree. Priority is usually given to the child’s grandparents, followed by aunts, uncles, adult siblings, and cousins. Despite priority being given to relatives, before a minor can be placed in a relative’s home, the child-placing agency must determine that the relative will provide a proper home for the youth, keep the child safe, and meet the kid’s needs.
What Are Some Common Adoption Disputes?
Many adoptions take place without any problems or disputes. Nevertheless, as with any case in which a person’s privileges and obligations are dramatically impacted due to court action, conflicts may occur during the adoption procedure.
Typical kinds of adoption quarrels include the following:
- Debates over the privileges of the biological parents
- Changing an adoptive decision
- Inquiries regarding the mental/emotional strength or financial capacity of the adoptive parents
- Problems emerging between the state and the adopting party
- Conflicts occurring with the adoption agencies overseeing the adoption
What Is a Wrongful Adoption?
A wrongful adoption happens when adoption is reached through misrepresentation, deception, trickery, or any unlawful act with intent to acquire monetary or personal gain. The parties involved with wrongful adoption include the birth parents, prior parents, adoption agencies, social workers, and others.
Instances of wrongful adoption include the following:
- Misrepresentation regarding the identity of the kid or any parent involved
- Negligent misrepresentation regarding the medical history or family history
- Promising adoptive parents custody of the kid with no intention to finish the adoption process and give up their parental privileges
- Selling a baby like a market commodity, which is a serious issue where surrogacy and donated eggs are involved because both circumstances often involve economic compensation
- Failing to get the permission of the adoptee when it is required
Is It Possible to Have an Adoption Reversed?
Adoption can be reversed at the request of the birth parents or the adoptive parents. The court must grant the reversal since the adoption has already been completed. The circumstances in which a reversal may be given are very limited. If the adoption reversal is granted, the adoptee’s birth certificate will be changed back to how it originally read before the adoption.
- Birth Parents Reversing Adoption: If birth parents reverse the adoption, the adoptive parents must give their consent to the reversal. However, in some states, simply getting the adoptive parents’ consent is not enough to grant a reversal of the adoption.
- Adoptive Parents Reversing Adoption: Adoptive parents hoping to reverse their adoption must show the court that it is in the child’s best interest to dissolve it. This may be granted when the relationship between the adoptive parents and the kid is so strained that neither party benefits from the relationship. A reversal may also be provided in cases where the adoptive parents can no longer financially sustain the child.
- Child Reversing Adoption: The adopted child may hope to be emancipated from their adoptive parents. Regardless, it is more common for the adopted youth to seek to reverse their adoption as an adult due to a failing personal relationship with their adoptive parents or because they may wish to inherit from their birth parents.
Do I Need an Attorney for My Adoption?
Adoption proceedings are a complex area of family law, and understanding the rules governing adoptions is challenging. An adoption lawyer can safeguard the rights of the parents and child and help the adoption process go smoothly.