There are several different types of adoption: agency, independent, international and identified. In addition to these, there are also internal adoptions by stepparents, domestic partners and relatives. But regardless of the specific type of adoption you’re seeking, the matter must be heard in family court and an order must be issued by the judge.
Different states have different laws regarding the adoption process so you should consult an experienced attorney to be sure you understand your rights. Laws regarding same-sex parent adoption are even more challenging and can be best handled by an attorney familiar with the laws of your state.
In order to adopt a child, the biological parents’ rights must be terminated. This can happen through voluntary consent or by order of the court. The court takes parental rights very seriously and will only terminate them in cases of abandonment, abuse or where the parents have been deemed to be otherwise unfit.
Because giving a child up for adoption is such an emotional decision, most states require the biological parents to wait until after the child is born before consent can be given. Many states even permit an additional time period after the adoption that allows the biological parents to change their mind. Most states also require that the biological parents receive counseling prior to proceeding with the adoption to be sure they understand the emotional and mental ramifications of their decision.
The adoptive parents must also undergo an in-depth examination that allows the state to determine if they are fit to be parents. This exam is typically referred to as a home study and is most often performed by a social worker. The home study examines all facets of the adoptive parents’ lives including financial, physical and professional aspects. The adoptive parents must be able to show that they can adequately afford to raise the child and that their lifestyle won’t interfere with the responsibilities of becoming a parent. The social worker will also look at the demands of their careers as well as the relationship between the parents-to-be. Once the social worker has a clear picture of the prospective parents, he or she will submit that report to the judge. If the report is not in the adoptive parents’ favor, they can contest it with the court.
In order for an adoption to become legal, all parties required to give consent must receive notice of the hearing and a standard petition must be filed. A hearing will be held and the judge will consider all the information provided. If the adoptive parents are deemed to be fit and all the proper consent has been obtained, the judge will then likely grant the petition and an order will be issued. If the adoptive parents want to legally change the child’s name, it should be included in the order as well.