Building from the Ground Up: The Process of Adoption
November 10, 2015
Many agree that becoming a parent is one of life’s greatest joys. However, biological parenting is not an option for everyone. For those in this situation and for those who simply have a calling, adoption is a wonderful option.
Ball Eggleston PC’s attorneys have been helping individuals seek adoption since 1950. We are prepared to provide legal assistance to persons wanting to adopt a newborn, child, or adult both domestically and internationally.
What Is Adoption?
Adoption is the act by which an adult legally becomes the parent of an infant, child, or another adult who was not biologically produced by the individual seeking adoption. The adopted individual is given the rights, privileges, and duties of a child and becomes an heir of the adoptive family, and the adoptive parent(s) assume all of the rights and responsibilities of a legal parent. The birth parents of the adopted individual lose all parental rights, with the exception of visitation and updates if an open adoption is agreed upon.
How Can I Adopt?
Depending on the adoption agency you choose or if you decide not to use an agency, your adoption experience may be slightly different than what is listed below. However, a typical process requires those seeking adoption to do the following:
1. Select an Agency and a Lawyer.
While there are instances in which you do not need to work with an adoption agency (e.g. adopting your spouse’s child, adopting a child left to you through a will), you will likely need to choose an agency. You must work with a licensed agency in the state in which you live. Fees and timelines may vary from agency to agency, so we highly recommend speaking with several adoption agencies and getting references. Many agencies offer legal services; however, you still need your own representation, which is where Ball Eggleston can assist you.
2. Complete a Home Study.
During your adoption process, you will be required to have a series of meetings with a social worker, at least one of whom will be in your home and require all who live in your home to be present. Home studies are designed to prepare those seeking adoption for parenting, as well as to ensure that a child would be able to thrive in the home. Before a social worker can finalize the home study report, he will ask for pertinent documents, such as birth certificates, your marriage license (if applicable), child abuse clearances, and personal references. This sounds like an intimidating process, but it really isn’t. Think of home studies as an opportunity to learn more about adoption and to use your social worker as a resource.
3. Search for Your Child(ren).
When your home study is complete, you can begin searching for a child or sibling group. Your adoption agency will have a list of children available for adoption and can also network with other agencies to find the right match for your family. Many agencies allow those seeking adoption to be active in the search process, meaning they can view profiles of children being placed for adoption and decide whom they would like adopt. When a child or sibling group is picked, your home study will be sent to the child/sibling group’s social worker, and the social worker will decide if he thinks the child and the individuals seeking adoption would be a good fit. The social worker may work with the child’s birth parents to make that decision.
4. Make the Shortlist.
It is exciting to essentially become a finalist, but it’s important to remember that the child/sibling group’s social worker and/or birth parents may be considering several other families. At this time, more confidential information about the child will be shared with you (disabilities, information about the birth parents, etc.) to ensure that you want to continue pursuing to adopt a particular child/sibling group.
5. Meet the Child or Birth Parents.
A series of meetings with the child(ren) and/or birth parents will help make you the final candidate. If you are selected, several visits with the child(ren) will take place over a few weeks or months. If the child lives out of state or in another country, agencies will work with you and may allow fewer visits. If a child has yet to be born, you will likely have a few meetings with the birth mother and possibly father.
6. Receive a Placement.
Once the adoption assistance agreement is completed, you will receive a placement date, meaning the date that the child will come to live with you. A social worker will visit you and your new child(ren) in your home for several months as part of post-placement supervision. If all goes well, you will be able to file a legal intent to adopt petition.
7. Finalize the Adoption.
Your child(ren) will officially and legally become part of your family when a judge finalizes your adoption. You will receive amended birth certificates for each child, meaning the birth parents’ names will be removed and your name will be added.
8. Live as a Family.
Becoming a parent is one of life’s greatest joys. That said, parenting does come with challenges. Adoptive parents are advised to connect with other adoptive parents or support groups to continuously be learning about living as an adoptive family. Many adoptive parents feel that choosing to adopt was the best decision they ever made. If you find yourself with those feelings, consider adopting again or encouraging others to adopt. In the U.S. alone, nearly 400,000 kids are in the foster care system and more than 100,000 are waiting to be adopted.
What About International Adoption?
While adopting internationally is often more expensive than adopting domestically, there are approximately 153 million orphans in the world awaiting adoption. International or foreign adoption requires those seeking adoption to follow both U.S. regulations, which we just discussed, and a child’s native country’s regulations. While this sounds stressful, your adoption agency and lawyer will be able to help you sort through the laws and paperwork.
Ball Eggleston Can Help.
Since 1950, our lawyers have been active adoption advocates, assisting individuals seeking to a adopt an infant, child, or adult. While adoption agencies will be helpful, those seeking adoption will benefit from having their own legal representation. If you want to adopt or are considering adoption, contact an experienced Ball Eggleston lawyer for a personal consultation.
Ball Eggleston is located at 201 Main Street, Suite 810 P.O. Box 1535 Lafayette, IN 47902. Contact Ball Eggleston by phone at (765) 742‑9046, by fax at (765) 742‑1966, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional information, find Ball Eggleston online at ballegg.local. You can also find us on Facebook and YouTube.
Disclaimer: The content of this blog is intended to be general and informational in nature. It is advertising material and is not intended to be, nor is it, legal advice to or for any particular person, case, or circumstance. Each situation is different, and you should consult an attorney if you have any questions about your situation.