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How to Adopt

Making the decision to adopt a child is a momentous occasion in your life. Once you have decided that you want to adopt a child, figuring out how to begin an adoption can be quite challenging. There are several different factors an adoptive parent must consider when beginning their adoption journey in an effort to give the child a loving family.

One of the first steps is to decide which type of adoption is right for you. Prospective parents may choose to work with an adoption agency or proceed with an “independent" adoption without agency involvement. Also, birth parents and adoptive parents must decide how much contact they want with one another. Additionally, prospective parents must follow state regulations mandating the adoption home study process, court approval, and other steps along the way.

This article gives a brief general overview of the adoption process.

Locating a Child for Adoption

Unless you are seeking to adopt a specific child, the first question many would-be adoptive parents must face is how to locate a child in need of adoption. They will also need to consider whether they are open to adopting a sibling group, which are children who must be adopted with their siblings.

There are several different types of adoptions prospective parents might consider. Parents considering adoption will need to choose between domestic or international adoption, and closed or open adoptions. Parents will also need to consider different adoption programs, including private adoptions and adopting from the foster care system.

Adoption agencies and government organizations may facilitate adoption and provide other helpful services that ensure that parents are matched with appropriate children in need of adoption. Adoption agencies are comprised of adoption professionals, including certified social workers. Adoption agencies will help connect prospective parents to foster children in foster care. Acting as a foster parent may lead to successful child adoption, though not all foster relationships can result in an adoption.

Surrogacy, which is contracting to have someone bear a child on your behalf, can help ensure a genetic relationship between the adoptive parent and child, although surrogates are also used in circumstances where the child has no biological relationship with either of the adoptive parents.

Doctors, lawyers, and religious organizations may be aware of children in need of adoption as a result of their contact with the community. Your social network, the internet, and paid advertisement are other methods a parent seeking a child to adopt may publicize their availability and interest.

Home Study for Adoption

All states require prospective parents to complete a "home study." This process ensures that adoptive families are prepared and educated sufficiently for adoption. Home studies also provide information about the adoptive parents to establish that they are capable of providing a healthy environment for an adopted child. These procedures are in place to ensure the child is going to a home that will support their well-being. Specific requirements for home study vary greatly, but there are some common elements.

Many home studies require prospective parents to attend training focused on the challenges of raising an adopted child. Interviews are quite common and several may be required. Home visits ensure that state guidelines are met. Health and income statements ensure that a serious health or financial problem will not jeopardize the adopted child. Background checks, fingerprinting, autobiographical statements, and references help establish that the person has no record of criminal activity or child abuse and help ensure that prospective parents will provide a home free of abuse or neglect.

For more information on adoption home studies, visit FindLaw's article on Home Study FAQs.

Petitioning the Court for Adoption

Although details may vary greatly, adoptions require a petition to the appropriate court before it can be finalized. A petition, at minimum, will typically identify all parties, request the termination of parental rights of the birth parents, if any, and urge that the adoptive parents be granted custody of the child. The court does not take the placement of a child lightly, and so this is an important piece of the adoption process.

Get Legal Help With an Adoption

The process of adopting can be daunting. Proceedings and petitions may be quite complicated. Rules can vary greatly between jurisdictions and are usually fairly complicated. Retaining an agency, attorney, or both may be necessary to assist in representation.

Adoption law attorneys can help provide valuable legal advice and give you adoption assistance. They can also connect you to important resources and adoption services, and they can help you navigate adoption costs.

Speak to an experienced adoption law attorney today.

Learn About How to Adopt

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