Adoption is a wonderful alternative for many children. An adoption is the legal process by which a child’s biological parents are relieved of their rights and often duties to the child and new parents are appointed to be the child’s parents from that point forward. Adopting a child has the same legal consequence as actually giving birth to the child. The adopted child is legally the same as a child of your flesh.
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There are too many possible scenarios in which someone might want to adopt a child to list here but some common circumstances include: Grandparents adopt when the parents are unable or unwilling to care for the child.
Foster parents adopt children that they have cared for in the foster system. Often these children are placed with the foster parent by child protective services. Agency sponsored adoptions. These are adoptions in which the biological parents of the child use an agency to place the child with new parents. International adoptions and Adoption of a step-child by a step-parent.
The adoption process requires that you first meet a list of requirements before you can be considered for adoption. If you meet these requirements you can move forward. If you do not there is no point in filing the paperwork because the judge cannot or will not grant the adoption.
Some of these requirements are easy to see, such as age. Others require more investigation. As explained below the court will do the investigation necessary to determine if you qualify. You must be at least 21 years old and a mature adult. You must be financially stable. This does not mean rich, but does mean that you must have the ability to provide the basic necessities for the child. Must also pass an adoption home study. These will be discussed in more detail below.
If you feel that you meet the requirements listed above you can move forward with the adoption.
You should not attempt to represent yourself in an adoption. There are some legal matters where it is fine and appropriate to represent yourself. This is not one of them. You need a qualified lawyer representing you. The only exception to this is if you are working with CPS. In that case the State has a team of lawyers working on the case and they will handle everything.
Your lawyer will file a petition seeking adoption of the child. This is a fairly straightforward document that asks the court to enter an order naming you as the parents of the child. Depending on your circumstances your lawyer may also file a motion seeking the termination of the biological parent’s rights. This must happen as legally the child can only have one set of parents.
An order terminating a person’s parental rights is often referred to as the death penalty of family law. Once the order terminating has been entered and the time for appeal expires it will legally be as if the parent of the child is a stranger to the child. They will have absolutely no rights and if they approach the child the new, adoptive parents can call the police just as if a stranger were stalking their child.
Orders terminating parental rights often terminate the biological parents obligations to provide support for the child but do not have to. They can also include an order that the biological parent provide a medical history for the child’s benefit.
Judges don’t just allow anyone to adopt. They want to make sure they are placing the child in the best possible place. To accomplish this the state legislature has passed laws requiring certain things be accomplished before an adoption is granted. These include: background checks for both potential adoptive parents (or just the step-parent in the case of a step-parent adoption), home study, interviews with an attorney ad litem for the child.
The criminal background check is performed by the FBI. It requires that you fill out a form giving them all types of identifying information and have yourself finger printed by someone from your local law enforcement.
The law doesn’t require that you have an absolutely clean record but if you have any charges or convictions for crimes involving children you will not be approved. Anything else will be handled on a case by case basis.
The home study is performed by CPS and is used to determine whether or not the potential adoptive family has the financial resources, space for the child and that the home is appropriate and safe. The focus is less on the physical inspection of the home, although that is important, but more about how the family relates to one another and their background, relationships and feelings on certain issues such as discipline and similar issues. The home study takes into account: Marital stability, Family and friends as a resource network, Reason for the adoption.
Basic parenting skills with a focus on discipline and building sibling relationships, Physical and mental health of the potential adoptive parent or parents, Ability to handle sensitive issues faced by adopted children such as: abuse, the birth parents, growing up in a different ethnic or cultural environment and dealing with different Simply put the Attorney Ad Litem is an attorney appointed by the court to represent the child. Their job is to determine and express the child’s interests while at the same time making sure that the child is not being taken advantage of or disadvantaged in any way by the adoption. The court will ask them to report on their findings and if they are against the adoption the chances that the court will disagree are slim.
Eventually you will appear before the judge and ask that he or she order the termination and grant the adoption. Some judges require that these two events happen at different hearings. The reason being that the terminated parent could technically appeal and have the termination overturned which would then overturn the adoption. To avoid this the judge terminates the biological parent and then makes you wait until their appeal date has passed before granting the adoption.
Generally the judges want the children to be there for the adoption portion and like to take pictures with the new family. Adoptions are one of the few good things that family law judges get to participate in so they enjoy them as much as possible.
In generally adoptive parents are married. Statistics regarding divorce may be undependable but the simple fact of the matter is that any marriage could end in divorce. Adopted children are treated in exactly the same manner as biological children by the divorce courts. That means that whether it is a step parent adoption or a foster adoption if the parents divorce the final decree of divorce will set out custody and visitation for the child and child support payments for one or both spouses to pay.