Adoption is a complex legal process and an extremely emotional journey for everyone involved, especially the person or couple trying to adopt. Every year in the United States alone, more than 140,000 adoptions are finalized, with the majority ending up as success stories.
If you are thinking about adopting a child, regardless of age, race, or country of origin, it is imperative to work with a highly qualified attorney who practices in this area of law. Because adoption can be a long, tedious, and complicated process, you need a top-notch attorney on your side, someone licensed in the state where you reside. During the consultation, the entire process will be discussed, including court proceedings, legal documents, and all fees.
Legal Steps for Adoption
To adopt a child, a petition must be filed with the court to start the legal process. This consists of asking the judge to finalize the adoption with the issuance of an “order of adoption.” Although you have the legal right to file the petition without an attorney, this is ill-advised. As part of the filing, the attorney will provide the court with any additional paperwork and will be responsible for filing any necessary legal documents on your behalf.
Once the petition for adoption is filed, your case will be carefully reviewed by the court. The status of your case or request for additional paperwork will be communicated through the attorney. Once the court finalizes the adoption, the attorney will follow up with any requests made.
Often, a person or couple interested in adoption, as well as anyone living in the home, will be required to complete a Home Study. This consists of meetings with a social worker from the adoption agency or foster care agency. During this period, certain documents will be submitted, such as birth certificate, marriage license, financial records, personal references, child abuse clearances, and so on. Although your attorney will not be in attendance, he or she can answer questions or provide guidance.
Finalizing the Adoption
By working with a qualified attorney, you will have assistance in finding the child, whether through an agency or private party. Once the right child has been identified, your attorney will begin to exchange information with the agency or private party. In addition, information from the Home Study will be included and often profiles of the child as well as adoptive individual or couple will be shared.
If adopting a child from another country, you will be required to fly to that location to meet the child, adoption agency, and country officials. This is an extremely stressful event, but with the assistance of your attorney, you will know exactly what to expect, the documents to present, and what to say to ensure the adoption is approved as planned.
As mentioned, the adoption process can be very challenging. In addition to the importance of choosing the right child, this is a waiting game that can be difficult. To help you through the process and provide legal assistance if you face any obstacles along the way, you want an excellent adoption attorney on your side.