When most people think of adoption, they often think of adoptions that involve infants or very young children by parents other than the biological parents. There are other types of adoption, such as step-parent adoption. Step-parent adoption is common when a biological parent has remarried and their new spouse forms a bond with a child from a previous marriage or relationship. The legal requirements are quite similar.
To adopt a child, a petition must be filed in a state court. The petition must have identifying information of the child to be adopted, such as their name and birthday, as well as the names of the adoptive parents.
In some cases, a biological parent may consent to the adoption proceedings. There may be a time period specified by law during which the biological parent can revoke consent by filing a revocation or objection with the court and notifying the adoptive parent or parents through their attorney.
Adoptive parents may be required to complete a home study and background check to ensure that they are fit as prospective parents and have adequate resources to raise a child. They may be required to sign forms permitting the release of sensitive information by government agencies. A social worker may need to visit their home and interview the parents and create a report for the court.
In cases where the biological parents are contesting the adoption, the state or party petitioning a court for adoption may be required to prove that the biological parents are unfit to raise the child. This type of adoption may occur if there has been an allegation of abuse or neglect or habitual substance abuse. In cases where there has not been a finding by a court of abuse of neglect, abandonment is another possible ground for adoption. For example, if a biological father has not had contact with his child or paid child support for over one year, adoptive parents may argue that he has abandoned the child, that it would be in the best interests of the child to allow the adoption to proceed and that a court should terminate his parental rights.
Some adoptions occur as a result of a child coming into state care through the foster care system. Those who are interested in becoming foster parents will need to complete training requirements and work with case workers. Foster parents may be given the option to adopt foster children if reunification with the child’s biological parents is not possible or if the biological parents consent to the adoption.
After an adoption is finalized, a judge makes the adoption official by signing a decree of adoption. Some adoptions are closed. This means that the biological parents will no longer have contact with the child, and their rights and obligations to the child are terminated. In an open adoption, the biological parents may still have some contact with the child. This is most common in cases where the child has established a relationship with a parent and it would be in the child’s best interests to continue that relationship.
After the decree is entered and filed with the court, the decree of adoption can be sent to the Department of Vital Statistics so that a new birth certificate can be issued with the names of the adoptive parents and the child’s information, including the child’s new name if the parents have requested that the child’s birth name be changed.
The Jackson Firm may be able to help families who are interested in adopting a child. The Jackson Firm has helped many families with adoption cases previously. Having an experienced attorney can make the process much easier to understand and can help adoptive parents ensure that they meet all legal and procedural requirements. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.