Holding yourself responsible for a child’s upbringing takes tremendous courage. As rewarding as it may sound, adoption is a complicated process and shouldn’t be taken into your own hands without legal support.
For the safety of both the child and the adoptive parents, adoption isn’t deemed a fundamental right in the U.S. constitution. You must earn your worth through training and financial capabilities in court before filing a petition for the same. The birth parents’ written consent is also essential for the legal process to be finalized.
What are open and closed adoption?
Typically, two types of adoptions are allowed in the United States: Open adoption and Closed adoption.
In an open adoption setup, the birth parents choose the adoptive parents and can maintain visitation and contact rights through mutual discussion and legal contracts. However, the consensual forfeiture can’t be revoked in the future.
On the contrary, closed adoptions don’t allow birth parents to reserve any rights over the child, and the adoption process is handled by a state administrative agency. A standardized selection process is facilitated to choose the adoptive parents.
Methods of adoption
Interested parents like yourself may legally adopt through two identified methods.
Through an agency
Public and private agencies both abide by adoption laws and best practices. The state-run public agencies strive on finding parents for parentless children, while the private agencies work as a facilitator for both adoptive and natural parents to satisfy their interests. In both cases with the agencies, the child isn’t placed with the interested parents unless the birth parents relinquish their rights.
Independent adoptions are facilitated outside the scope of public or private adoption agencies. The natural parents decide upon suitable adoptive parents. They may also place their child with the adoptive parents for a trial period without giving up their rights before the legalities are finalized. Family law lawyers can help you understand and finalize the adoption process.
Legal process involving adoption
Adoptive and biological parents need to go through a complicated legal process to satisfy both their interests. As the laws are much more regulatory towards adoptive parents, you must consider consulting a lawyer for the same.
Home studies and minimum requirements
You can’t just adopt an infant without going through the minimum state requirements. These often include:
- Adoptive parents or parents must be US citizens.
- You must be at least 25 years old to adopt a child if you’re unmarried.
- For married couples wanting to adopt a child, they both must be US citizens.
- Criminal background checks, fingerprints, and home study are required.
The home study, as stated byChild Welfare Information Gateway, is focused to give the adoptive parents the necessary education, helping agencies do background checks, and helping specialists gather information about prospective families.
Birth parents’ living expenses
The prospective birth parents are often entitled to financial assistance from the adoptive parents and the agency to lighten the burden of pregnancy and related expenses. The agencies work closely with medical and legal professionals to ensure that the natural parents are given adequate support as per federal laws.
Consent of birth parents
In most states, the mother is given a few days before she can sign the adoption papers. As relinquishing her rights over the child may be one of the hardest decisions of their life, the state laws ensure that they aren’t pushed to take the decision.
Lawyers and associated agencies help both the birth parents and adoptive parents go through the process together. The birth parents are informed about what the decision entails and the adoptive parents are trained to take responsibility.
ICPC and ICWA
Due to the varying nature of legal procedures among the states, the Interstate Compact on Placement of Children (ICPC) oversees the adoption process between state lines. Agencies generally associate themselves with ICPC to ensure a smooth transition with all the state rules being met.
The adoptive parents are required to do several post-placement visits with a licensed social worker to ensure that the child and the adoptive parents are adjusting well to the placement. These visits provide important information for legal finalization.
The finalization is held at a courthouse with the judge being present to review the adoption documents and to issue the final approval.
Why adoption laws are important
The adoption process may seem lengthy and complicated, but it’s there to prevent unfortunate incidents.
Safety of the children
The children hold the top priority in the adoption process. Background checks and post-placement visits are practiced to ensure their safety. It’s there to prevent human trafficking and other criminal activities.
Financial assistance to birth parents
The natural parents are given financial support during the adoption process to minimize the burden of childbirth and care. Individual state laws dictate how much and how long the natural parents are given financial support.
Prevent “taking back” of adopted children
While pretty uncommon, the adoption laws prevent natural parents from reclaiming their children years after placement. The laws ensure that the biological parents are given enough information to rethink their decision before finalization and don’t have any claim over their children. In some cases, contact and visits are mutually allowed outside the scope of the law.
Access to personal and medical history
The adoptees can also access their personal and medical history, including their parentage, at any time in the future. The adoption laws ensure the protection of such information.
The Bottom Line
Adoption laws can also be pretty complicated to navigate through without the aid of a lawyer. They ensure that the adoption process is facilitated and finalized smoothly and the placement is secured through mutual acceptance and paperwork. The laws are also important for the safety of the children, to assist the natural parents, and prevent biological parents from taking back their children.