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If you and your spouse plan to grow your family through the adoption process, be prepared to jump through several legal hoops. Just ask Riley and Michelle of Des Moines, Iowa.
“We wanted to adopt a neglected child in the foster care system here in the United States,” said Riley. “Michelle and I though it would be easier than adopting a child from another country. We believed dealing with one country’s adoption laws, instead of dealing the adoption laws of two countries, would shorten the approval process. It turns out we spent a lot of time dealing with legal headaches, especially the paperwork.”
Riley and Michelle are correct to assume adopting from within the United States is a much easier process than trying to adopt a child from let’s say, Canada or Mexico. However, the adoption process involves passing numerous legal guidelines that require the assistance of a licensed family law attorney.
The adoption process involves understanding complex statutes that mandate how to adopt, as well as set the types of adoptions available for eager parents. This section provides an overview of adoption, with additional sections devoted to more specific rules that you must follow.
General Adoption Tips
After you decide you and your spouse want to adopt, you then need to plan the steps required to complete your dream. Every state requires a home study process that includes multiple interviews, as well as home visits by professionals trained in watching how everyone in your family interacts. The goal of the home study process is to evaluate the environment in which the adopted child will live. You also receive a thorough education that prepares you for adopting a child. After cleared to adopt by the legal system, the next step involves finding a child who is ready for adoption. Licensed adoption agencies represent your best option for finding adoptable children. Michelle emphasizes the importance of volunteering at a foster care facility to interact with potential adoptees. After the legal smoke clears, the last step is to participate in adoption court proceedings to ensure you meet all of the legal requirements for adoption. A judge determines whether placing a child in your home is in the “best interests” of the child.
Types of Adoptions
An adoption agency provides you one type of adoption option. Depending on your adoption criteria and ability to perform research, you might choose an independent adoption, which offers both advantages and disadvantage. Independent adoptions typically take more time, unless you collaborate with a licensed family law attorney. International adoptions can significantly add to the number rules and restrictions you face during the adoption process. The type of adoption you choose requires considerable forethought and how much red tape you are willing to endure.
The Increase of Same Sex Adoptions
Once considered taboo by the United States legal system, same sex adoptions have skyrocketed within the country. Legal barriers for same sex adoptions have crumbled law by law since the late 1990s. However, not every state ensures the legal right for same sex couples to adopt children In fact, some states prohibit same sex adoptions. Same sex couples seeking to adopt must clearly understand state law, before embarking on a long legal journey.
Outside of child custody cases, no other area of family law requires the expertise of a family law attorney more than the attorney services needed to adjudicate adoption cases. Most family law attorneys offer free consultations to see if you and your spouse should move forward with adopting a child. A licensed family law attorney who specializes in adoption cases represents you during adoption court proceedings, as well as helps you avoid mistakes that destroy your adoption dream.