Adoption is a method of creating a family through nonbiological means. Often, adoption means that the rights of the biological parent are terminated, although exceptions to this rule exist in co-parent and stepparent adoptions. Adoptions may be open or closed. In an open adoption, the adoptive parents and the biological parents are aware of each other’s identities. In a closed adoption, the identities of the parents are not disclosed. There are several types of adoption: relative, or kinship, adoption; step-parent adoption; agency adoption; direct placement adoption; and international or intercountry adoption.
Relative and Stepparent Adoption
The most common types of adoption are relative and stepparent adoption. Often, relative or stepparent adoption is arranged after the child has been living with the prospective parent(s) for sometime. Relatives looking to adopt a child may be exempt from some of the adoption requirements.
In an agency adoption, a state-licensed agency obtains custody of a child. The agency’s responsibilities are governed under state statutes, regulations, and licensing laws. Agencies can adopt a child either through involuntary termination of parental rights or through a parent voluntarily surrendering their child to the agency for adoption. Agencies will usually provide parents with counseling before a voluntary surrender. Agencies must take special efforts to place the child with relatives, and they must also conduct home studies before placing children with adoptive parents. After the child has been placed, the agency is responsible for ensuring that the home meets the child’s needs.
Direct Placement Adoption
In a direct placement adoption (also called independent or private adoption) the child is placed directly with the adoptive parents without prior surrender to an agency. The biological parent may be involved in choosing the adoptive parents. Biological parents in direct placement adoption must voluntarily terminate their parental rights, or else those rights must be involuntarily terminated in the legal process.
International adoptions involving the United States are governed by the Hague Convention on Adoptions. In an international adoption, the country of origin must approve the adoption and provide proper documentation. However, if the country of origin does not approve the Hague Convention, the rules are very different. Because the regulations governing international adoption are relatively new, they are still being tested and new interpretations are being developed.
Contact an Attorney to Help with the Adoption Process
Contact the legal professionals at Blahnik, Prchal and Stoll, if you are needing legal help with adopting a child, or if you just have general questions regarding the adoption process. Our attorneys will help you with the entire adoption process from start to finish.