An adopted child goes through a series of changes to become a family member, with most of the changes immediately apparent. Although a child adopted at birth may not recognize specific differences in being adopted, an adopted child is more likely to understand the changes involved and adapt to the new environment and circumstances.
Adoption laws differ from state to state. However, there are common steps that all prospective parents must take to move through the adoption process. First, they must apply for adoption at the local office of the Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS). The application process requires a home study to ensure that the household is safe and appropriate. Criminal background checks will also be performed. Sometimes the prospective parent will be required to go to classes on adoptions. This is done to empower prospective parents and help them understand all that goes into being good parents.
Termination of Parental Rights
Adoption can be a complicated process. It must begin with an adoption decree. Thankfully, a lawyer can help you through the adoption process by outlining each step and providing legal assistance throughout this complex legal procedure.
When the termination of parental rights is contested, the matter must be heard before the family law court. Both birth parents must be afforded notice that the hearing is taking place and be allowed to attend the hearing.
Evidence presented at a termination hearing will typically demonstrate the following:
- The birth parent's lack of interest in the child's wellbeing
- The birth parent's failure to pay child support
- Any history of domestic violence or substance abuse
Each case is different, and an adoption lawyer will help determine the best types of evidence to use in a particular case. The goal is to prove to the judge that terminating parental rights and approving the adoption decree is in the child's best interests.
Closed adoptions limit the number of adoptions per year. If you wait on a list for adoption, you could wait years. Open adoptions allow you to choose when and which child you want to adopt.
Even if your child did not issue a legal adoption order, you would forever remain the parent in the eyes of the law. You will have every right and authority to determine what happens to your child or what information is passed on to your child. In an open adoption, that is something you can work out in advance, and other relatives, including birth parents and foster families, can be included in the adoption.
In a closed adoption, it is up to you.
The day your former spouse remarries is a day you will never forget. At first, you're happy for your former spouse; however, you soon start to wonder if this day will mark your family's end. You don't initially share these feelings because you don't want your new stepparent's feelings to be hurt. You aren't sure how these feelings are going to affect your life. Mature, loving adults will deal with each other's shortcomings without involving the children. This is how this is going to work. Your love for your stepparent is going to be reciprocal. Eventually, you will learn to adjust, like any family does, to your stepparent's new ideas. No situation is exactly alike. This is a new beginning for everyone. This is the beginning of an extended family.
If you have a child from one of your prior relationships, getting married can create a situation where your spouse must interact with and treat that child as if they were their own. However, the law doesn't treat stepparent and parent relationships equally. The birth parent from the previous relationship still has the same legal rights as before marriage. Stepparent adoption is a way to remedy this situation.
Adopting a child offers adults both the emotional satisfaction of sharing in the parenting process and several practical advantages. For example, making the adoption permanent will allow a stepfather to be called upon to make emergency medical decisions regarding the child. If the birth parent from the old relationship has not made contact for years, the adoption will ensure that that person cannot reappear and disrupt the life of the stepparent and adopted child. Finally, the adoption will allow a stepparent to maintain custody if the natural parent dies or becomes disabled.
Talk to an adoption lawyer to find out if adoption (versus surrogacy or foster care) will give you the best future family options to raise your child.
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