The following is some basic information on adoption to help our clients better understand all that is involved with the adoption process.
The decision to adopt a child can be one of the most rewarding that an individual or couple can make. As with any rewarding decision, it can be extraordinarily complex. Those who wish to adopt a child must be willing not merely to welcome a new life into their hearts; they must also be willing to deal with legal and bureaucratic issues that can easily take as long as a typical pregnancy. The key to adopting successfully is to do one’s homework: finding reputable attorneys and agencies, knowing the pros and cons of different types of adoptions, and understanding the need to be actively involved at every step without allowing impatience or frustration to take control.
People adopt for a variety of reasons. Many adoptive parents cannot have children. Others want to provide a loving environment for children in need of a home; many parents who adopt have already given birth to children. Some people choose to adopt “special needs” children (children with disabilities, for example). The reasons for adoption notwithstanding, the most important requirement for adoptive parents is that they accept adoption as being as irreversible as the birth process.
Beginning in the last 20 years or so, overseas adoptions became increasingly common. More prospective parents turned to Russia, China, and South and Central America for adoption. This trend was spurred on by several factors, the two most important being easier availability and less fear of legal challenges. Domestic adoptions are not subject to widespread legal challenges, but it is not impossible for birth parents or birth relatives to initiate proceedings to revoke an adoption. For these reasons, it is critically important to work with people who are experienced in the adoption process and who understand what makes for a successful adoption.
Learn about the different ways you can adopt a child.
There are quite a few different ways to bring a child into your life, or confirm your legal relationship with one, through adoption. Here’s the lowdown on the different ways that adoption can work.
Agency adoptions involve the placement of a child with adoptive parents by a public agency, or by a private agency licensed or regulated by the state.
Public agencies generally place children who have become wards of the state for reasons such as orphanage, abandonment, or abuse. Private agencies are sometimes run by charities or social service organizations. Children placed through private agencies are usually brought to the agency by a parent or parents who have or are expecting a child they want to give up for adoption.
In a private, or independent, adoption, no agency is involved in the adoption. Some independent adoptions involve a direct arrangement between the birth parents and the adoptive parents, while others use an intermediary such as an attorney, doctor, or clergyperson. For most independent adoptions, whether or not an intermediary is involved, the adopting parents will usually hire an attorney to take care of the court paperwork.
Most states allow independent adoptions, though many regulate them quite carefully. Independent adoptions are not allowed in Connecticut, Delaware, or Massachusetts.
An “open adoption” is an independent adoption in which the adoptive parents and birth parents have contact during the gestation period and the new parents agree to maintain some contact with the birth parents after the adoption, through letters, photos, or in-person visits.
An identified, or designated, adoption is one in which the adopting parents and the birth mother find each other and then ask an adoption agency to take over the rest of the adoption process. The process is a hybrid of an independent and an agency adoption.
Prospective adoptive parents are spared the waiting lists of agencies by finding the birth parent themselves, but they reap the benefits of the agency’s counseling services and experience with adoption legalities. Everyone may simply feel more comfortable if an agency is involved. Identified adoptions are available to parents in the states (Connecticut, Delaware, and Massachusetts) that ban independent adoptions.
In a stepparent adoption, a parent’s new spouse adopts a child the parent had with a previous partner. Stepparent adoption procedures are less cumbersome than agency or independent adoption procedures. The process is simpler, especially if the child’s other birth parent consents to the adoption.
For more information about adoption, contact our office to speak with a qualified attorney.
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