People choose adoption for any number of reasons. Some families want to give an orphaned child a place in their home, while other couples cannot conceive and utilize adoption to begin their family. Whatever the reason, adoption law can be difficult to wade through for individuals without extensive legal experience.
Adoption law refers to the set of legal regulations and restrictions surrounding the transfer of parental responsibilities over a child. Adoption law most commonly relates to how two unrelated parents assume parental responsibility over a child, but there are also laws that allow a spouse to adopt their new step-child.
There are a number of adoption laws on the federal and state level, with each state having its own adoption proceedings. Additionally, there are other types of adoptions, such as international adoption, that have their own body of rules governing them.
In general, the adoption process is streamlined enough to allow for individuals to adopt without needing an attorney present. However, consulting with an adoption attorney can help prospective parents who may have some difficulty with the adoption process.
One example of a situation that may benefit from an adoption attorney’s involvement is if the prospective parent has a less-than-perfect background. An adoption attorney would be able to consult and explore options such as sealing records or looking for a workaround in order to help the parents maintain eligibility. Additionally, an adoption attorney can help prospective parents maneuver through any unusual or complex state laws surrounding adoption.
The adoption process can vary in time from one year onward. There are two phases to the adoption process: pre-placement and placement. Each of these processes have a minimum waiting period as mandated by state law.
During pre-placement, the parents are expected to complete trainings, registrations, background checks, and education in order to prepare for the child’s arrival. In total, this period can take anywhere from six months to a year. Once pre-placement has been completed, the child will enter placement where they enter the parents’ household but still have monthly checks with a social worker or other court-appointed advocate. After the placement period, the parents and child will appear before the judge where the adoption papers will be finalized and the parents will legally obtain parental rights and responsibilities over the child.