If you are planning to extend your family through adoption, opting for legal service and advice can ease and simplify the entire process for you. Legally, adoption is defined as an act that gives an adult the legal responsibility and guardianship of a child. At the end of the process, the adopted child becomes a legal heir to the adopter terminating their legal association with their natural parents.
What Are the Different Types of Adoptions?
The types of adoption accepted and allowed legally is dependent on state law and the area of jurisdiction. Some states only recognize one of the two adoption types while others accept both. An important point to note is that the majority of cases where parental rights are terminated occur due to consensual forfeiting by birth parents. In a typical scenario, consensual forfeiting of parental rights cannot be revoked by birth parents. The two types of adoptions are:
- Open Adoption: In this type, the state law permits the birth parent of the child/adoptee to choose their parents/adopter. Certain jurisdictions also allow birth parents to maintain contact and visitation rights.
- Closed Adoption: In this type of adoption, the birth parents forfeit all the legal rights to the child and allow the state administration to take responsibility for their adoption.
Methods of Adoption
There are two basic methods of adoption:
Adopting within the US is referred to as domestic adoption. You can choose one of out of three following processes to adopt a child in the US:
- Agency Adoption: The process offers a set traditional path to adopting a child. In the process, you will first have to mandatorily complete preadoption counseling and home study. Following this, you will have to build a profile and provide it to the agency who then will show it to prospective parents. The agency then comes back to you after a match is found.
- Adopt Independently: This is a flexible alternative to agency adoption. However, doing so requires hiring an expert adoption attorney who can help you through the process. In this process, you can advertise using online or traditional channels to find prospective birth parents looking for adopters. You can also take the guidance of your lawyer who can then seek out prospective parents on your behalf and present your profile before your home study has been approved.
- Foster Care Adoption: Foster care programs are specifically aimed to put children in the custody of adopters who take care of them until they can be reunited with their birth families. However, there is a potential that a child can be adopted from the foster system. The procedure begins with 6 to 45 hours of training, depending on the state you reside in. Following this, a home study is conducted before a chile is placed with you. The child is not up for permanent adoption until their legal dependence and parents’ rights with their natural parents are severed.
Adopting a child from a different country is a complicated procedure and will require you to meet the adoption regulations of your state and the host country where the child you wish to adopt belongs to. You must also obtain an immigrant visa for the child from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
An important point to keep in mind is that international adoptions are regulated according to the Hague Adoption Convention since April 1st, 2008. According to the treaty, the US federal government maintains an oversight of the domestic and international adoption agencies and policies. The oversight is intended to protect children, birth parents, adoptive parents, from abduction, unethical adoption, and scams.
While opting for international adoption, you should be able to prove the following things:
- The foreign adoption agency involved in the process provided counseling to birth parents
- A legal consent has been secured from the biological parents by the foreign adoption agency
- The child was considered to be placed locally by the foreign adoption agency
- The child has been cleared to travel and enter the United States
Legal Prerequisites for Adopting a Child
For adopting a child, you need to meet the following legal requirements:
- To adopt a child in the US, you must be at least 18 years of age. However, the restriction on age varies from state to state. In most states, there should be a set age difference between adopting parents and the child. For international adoption, you will have to fulfill the legal requisites of the country the child belongs to.
- The impact of your marital status on your qualification for newborn adoption is based on the method of adoption you choose and the state law. Certain agencies and state laws deem it necessary for you to be married to adopt a newborn child. There are no such requirements when it comes to adopting a child through foster care. If you opt for international adoption and are a single parent then the Hague Adoption Convention you should be at least 25 years of age.
- Medicinal and emotional stableness is a must for adopting children. In case there has been a history of illness, substance abuse, or psychiatric imbalance, a statement from a medical expert vouching for physical and mental stableness is required.
- Every household member of the family above the age of 18 is required to go through a child abuse clearance process irrespective of the state.
- A criminal history or arrest can complicate matters as FBI and state clearances are conducted for adoption. Arrests under certain criminal charges can bar adoption altogether
- You will have to undergo an assessment to prove you have the resources required to care and nurture the child. In case you opted for newborn adoption, you will be required to pay for expenses such as birth mother expenses, her travel, and adoption professional’s fees
- A home study will be conducted to evaluate the environment at home. Interpersonal interactions and relationships with children, if any, are also documented and evaluated to ensure the home is a safe and secure place for the child.
Why Hire an Adoption Lawyer?
Irrespective of what method of adoption you opt for, having an adoption lawyer by your side can simplify the process for you and expedite the joy of adopting.
- Adoption lawyers are well-versed with state and federal laws around adoption and can help you understand the complexities involved in the process even before you start looking out for a child for adoption
- With legal assistance, you can identify the best adoption agencies or can meet prospective biological parents and protect yourself from adoption frauds and felony charges.
- An adoption lawyer will also help you develop your profile, assist you in passing home studies, and prepare you for any legal complications and hearings that may arise in the process to improve your chances of qualifying for adoption.
- The adoption lawyer will ensure that the birth mother’s consent for adoption is obtained and she does not sway from her decision or stake a claim for the child’s custody.
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