Checklist: Documents to Show your Adoption Attorney

Whether you are working with an adoption agency or an adoption attorney, pursuing a stepparent adoption, going through the placement of children into foster care, or filing a petition for adoption for adult adoption, having the proper paperwork is crucial.

 

Embarking on the journey of adoption involves a multitude of tasks. You must collect and complete the documents. You must also meet all legal requirements. 

As you can see, there are several types of adoption. Most of them require the same documents. Below, we outline the essential documents you'll need to gather before meeting with your adoption lawyer.

Documents to Gather Before Meeting an Adoption Attorney

In this adoption checklist for documents, we highlight the key documents you need to gather, providing you with a valuable resource to navigate the adoption process effectively.

1. Certified copies of the birth certificate(s) of the adoptive parent(s) and child

A certified copy of your birth certificate is a copy made by the state agency in charge of vital statistics. In general, it has an embossed or raised seal. It verifies the place of birth and date of birth of the individuals seeking to adopt.

If the birth parent or birth mother and birth father are known, you may also need to provide the child's birth certificate.

2. Notify birth father, if applicable

When the birth father is unknown, it may be necessary to deal with the concept of a putative father. This term refers to a man alleged to be the father of a child but who has not established legally that he is the parent of the child. In such cases, subsections of state laws often provide an explanation of the process that must be followed.

3. Certified copy of marriage certificate, if applicable

Documentation confirming the marital status of the adoptive parents. This is available from the state agency that handles vital records.

4. Certified copy of divorce decree(s), if applicable

Legal proof of any previous divorce(s) involving the adoptive parent(s). This is particularly important when dealing with a stepparent adoption.

5. Doctor's physical examination form(s)

Medical history records that provide information about the mental and physical health of the prospective adoptive parents.

6. Statement from a health insurance company that the adopted child will be insured upon placement

A document from the insurance provider stating that the adoptee(s) will be covered under the adoptive parents' health plan upon placement of children.

7. Criminal background check release forms and reports

Authorization forms and reports related to criminal history checks for all prospective adoptive parents. The juvenile court (or the court finalizing the adoption, depending on your state) may need these records when deciding on the best interest of the child.

8. Social service agency release forms and reports

Required releases and reports from relevant social service agencies involved in the adoption process, particularly when transferring custody of the child from foster care or biological parents.

9. Local police department letters/reports of good standing

Official letters or reports affirming the good standing and character of the adoptive parents.

10. Passports

Valid passports for all prospective adoptive parents. A passport is needed when adopting a minor child from a foreign country.

11. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) forms

Any necessary forms related to immigration and citizenship status, particularly in the case of foreign adoptions.

12. Letters of reference

Personal references supporting the character and suitability of the prospective adoptive parents.

13. Home study

The home study is a comprehensive evaluation conducted by the child placing agency or a social worker to assess the prospective adoptive parent's home environment, readiness for adoption, and suitability to provide a nurturing and stable environment for the adoptee. The home study will take a look at all of the family members living in the home.

14. Adoption records

You will have to provide information on other adoption cases, if applicable. If you previously adopted a child, you will need to prove that you are the legal parent. You will have to provide a copy of the decree of adoption. You receive the final decree of adoption after the finalization hearing. This court order completes the adoption proceedings.

Other adoption forms may be needed. You may have to provide a copy of the adoption petition, the certificate of adoption, and the new birth certificate, among others. You can get copies of these documents from the family court in your state.

15. Affidavits

Many of the documents must be in the form of an affidavit. Affidavits are sworn statements or declarations. They outline important details or facts. Written consent to an adoption or a waiver that creates a termination of parental rights is often in the form of an affidavit.

16. Documents needed after adoption

Additionally, it's important to note that the name change after adoption is a crucial aspect that requires a legal process. Documentation for a name change petition might also be needed, especially for adult adoptees or stepchildren.

Get Professional Legal Help With an Adoption

Adoption is complex and can present several legal obstacles. An attorney can provide you with valuable, real-life information about the process in your state. If you are just starting the adoption process, you should seek legal advice from an experienced family law attorney who specializes in adoption.

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Can I Solve This on My Own or Do I Need an Attorney?

  • It is a good idea to have an attorney for complex adoptions
  • An attorney can ensure you meet all legal requirements and that your adoption is finalized appropriately
  • An attorney can help protect the best interests of adoptive children, adoptive families, and birth parents
  • For simple adoptions, you may be able to do the paperwork on your own or by using an agency

Get tailored advice at any point in the adoption process. Many attorneys offer free consultations.

 Find a local attorney

Don't Forget About Estate Planning

Adopting a child is an ideal time to create or change your estate planning forms. Take the time to add new beneficiaries to your will and name a guardian for any minor children. Consider creating a financial power of attorney so your agent can pay bills and make sure your children are provided for. A health care directive explains your health care decisions and takes the decision-making burden off your children when they become adults.

Start Planning

Don't Forget About Estate Planning

Adopting a child is an ideal time to create or change your estate planning forms. Take the time to add new beneficiaries to your will and name a guardian for any minor children. Consider creating a financial power of attorney so your agent can pay bills and make sure your children are provided for. A health care directive explains your health care decisions and takes the decision-making burden off your children when they become adults.

Start Planning