Adoption is without a doubt one of the more fun, scary, and exciting moments of your life. It is also one of the highest privileges we as law attorneys at Evans Family Law Group have the pleasure to be part of.
Adoption is the legal process that creates a permanent parent-child relationship, awarding the parent or parents who are adopting the same legal rights as if the child or the adult being adopted was born to you. This means the parent child relationship is established for all purposes, such as inheritance rights, the obligation for financial support, and general liability that comes with the joy and responsibility of being a parent.
Generally speaking, most of the adoptions we represent in our office on “uncontested” or “agreed adoptions”. This means that all of the parties have agreed that the adoption is in the best interest of the minor child (or children), the biological parents (or acknowledged father) have signed affidavits of relinquishments, and have given consent to allow the adoptive parents to go forward.
One of the most common adoptions are known as “step-parent adoptions”. Please be advised that if you are married and seek to adopt your spouse’s child that both spouses are required to join the petition seeking adoption. However, we have also assisted with newborn adoptions, family adoptions and the like.
If you are a parent considering relinquishing your rights, this is obviously a decision not to be made lightly. Depending on the circumstances, an affidavit of relinquishment is not revocable and is permanent once signed and properly executed. In addition, there are specific requirements under the law for executing these forms and different forms depending on the circumstances. Therefore, signing an affidavit of relinquishment should only be done after careful consideration and consultation with an experienced adoption attorney.
Of course, adoptions are not always by agreement. Under these circumstances, a trial is required first seeking involuntary termination of the biological parent’s rights prior to proceeding with the adoption. There are many grounds available for involuntary termination of a parent’s rights and these should be carefully studied and evaluated to determine if your circumstances qualify. The typical grounds being the parent has failed to adequately provide financial support according to their means for a period of 1 year or more or what are known as “emotional well being” and “endangerment” grounds. These can all be thoroughly discussed during your consultation. Regardless, the adoption attorneys at Evans Family Law Group are highly skilled and experienced in termination and adoption matters and can guide you all the way.
Unless the adoption is of an adult, a home study is required. During the process, a social worker will be appointed by the Court to interview you, the child, and review your criminal history along with any and all relevant background information. At the end of the home study, the social worker’s responsibility is to make a recommendation to the court whether adoptions is in the child’s best interest and should proceed.
At times, the court may also require an attorney “ad litem”, either to represent the Child’s interest during the proceeding or that of a parent who’s rights are being terminated. There are costs involved with both and should be carefully evaluated during your consultation with our adoption attorney. We will explain to you specifically what their roles are, estimations of time, and the costs involved.
Once an adoption is completed, the records are sealed so as to protect the child’s privacy. Once done, the records are not available to the general public, absent a motion to unseal them and an order signed by the court approving such.
Adoptions are an exciting and can be an emotional decision. Regardless, it will be one of the most important decisions and commitments you will ever make. However, also one of the most rewarding. That said, depending on the circumstances, there are many factors and points of information to consider prior to making this commitment.
Whether adopting a minor child, step-child, or adult later in life the adoption attorneys at Evans Family Law Group are experienced in assisting you through the entire process. We pride ourselves on a thorough consultation so that you understand the entire process, the strategy involved, the costs, and expectations.