A brief guide to adoption attorneys
During the adoption process, children who have been given up by their parents or removed by the state from abusive guardians come under another adult’s care. Not all of these cases require the assistance of an adoption attorney. The specifics vary from case to case and state to state. Here are some things to keep in mind if you are contemplating hiring any adoption attorneys.
Types of adopting parents
There are no fixed national guidelines dictating who can and cannot be an adopting parent. In theory, most grown-ups can adopt a child. In practice, every state and agency’s rules vary. Some may let single parents adopt, while others may only let married couples of a certain age adopt. In some states, gay couples can adopt, while in other states that is prohibited. Some states stipulate there must be a certain age gap between the adopter and child, while others make no mention of this. Adoption attorneys can help you make sure you are an eligible potential parent.
The four kinds of adoption
Every adoption process is not the same. The four main categories of adoption are:
• Public adoptions, in which a child who has been abused or otherwise mistreated is placed into the custody of the state. Child protective services will then attempt to find either a permanent new family for the child or placement in a temporary foster home. Such procedures do not generally require the services of an adoption attorney.
• In private, independent adoptions, birth parents consent directly to give their child up to adoptive couple. For example, some birth parents may feel financially unable or unprepared to raise their child properly. These cases require an adoption attorney to scrutinize all documents and agreements.
• In agency adoptions, birth parents willingly hand over custody of their children to the state, which uses profit and non-for-profit agencies to find new homes for the children. You will probably have to appear before an adoption court and may need the services of a adoption attorney.
• Intercountry adoptions refer to adopting children from foreign countries. These are done either through agencies or directly through a lawyer. In either case, you will probably need an adoption attorney.
State and federal adoption laws
Every state has its own set of laws relating to the adoption process. Guidelines can vary extensively. Some of the adoption laws that are different in all 50 states:
• When parents can give consent for their children to be put up for adoption. In some states, consent can be given anytime before birth. In others, it can only be obtained hours or even days after birth.
• How many days the parent has to change their mind and take back custody of their child. In some states, consent is irrevocable after being given. In others, birth parents may have as much time as 180 days to reclaim custody of their children.
• How much of the birth parents’ expenses, if any, may be paid by adopters or agencies. These could include medical expenses, lost wages, rent, lodging, legal costs and many other categories, depending on the nature of the agreement between the birth and adoptive parents.
• Whether parents wishing to adopt can place ads seeking birth parents willing to give up their children
• Whether parents from out-of-state can adopt a child
• Whether fathers are required to register in order to maintain custodial rights over their children
• Whether the child is required to consent to the adoption. This commonly with the case with children aged 10 to 14
• What kind of contact birth parents can have with their children after adoption is completed
All of these considerations are a part of adopting. In most cases, the use of adoption attorneys will not just help ease the process but be mandatory.
Completing the adoption process
Whatever kind of adoption you are contemplating, every state requires that you undergo a “homestudy” period. This can take anywhere from three to six months and is designed to make sure anyone wishing to become an adoptive parent can take care of their children. As with every step in the process, considerable differences exist between states and adoption agencies.
To help you prepare for this period, adoption attorneys can make sure any paperwork you may need related to your medical history or financial status is any order. Throughout the process, you will be asked questions about:
• Why you want to adopt
• Your family history and upbringing
• Provide information about what your daily life is like
• Your views on parenting
• What you hope for and expect from the adoption process
• The state of your physical and fiscal health
In addition to being directly interviewed, other requirements of the homestudy process that may apply to you include:
• Taking adoption education
• Providing character references
• Submitting to a criminal background check
• Providing a personal statement that may be shown to birth parents.
Throughout this process, adoption attorneys can be helpful in making sure any documentation you are asked to submit is properly presented. After the homestudy period, your fitness to be an adoptive parent will be evaluated in a report by an agency assessor.
Potential bars to the adoption process
Sometimes, an adoption can come to an end thanks to an agreement between the adoptive and birth parents. This process is known as dissolution. In other cases, birth parents may choose to revoke their consent towards adoption before the procedure is finalized. In cases where adoptions may be terminated, the court will take several factors into consideration to decide what is best for the child, including:
• How well the child has responded to his new parents
• Mental issues in either the child or any of the parents
• The child’s age
• The birth parents’ financial ability to look after the child
As in any legal dispute, an adoption attorney can be useful in helping you retain or regain custody of the child.