Adoption Law FAQs

What is adoption?

Adoption occurs when an adult becomes the legal parent of a child who is not biologically his or her own. Adoptive parents accept full custody and become responsible for all child support costs and obligations, while the adopted child is granted all inheritance rights. Birth parents must terminate their parental rights - except in special cases where contracts have been drawn up to guarantee retention of some of those rights - when the adoption is finalized.

What are the different types of adoption?

The different types of adoption include agency adoption, identified (private) adoption, independent adoption, international adoption, and relative adoption.

What is an agency adoption?

An agency adoption (which may be public or private) places wards of the state, or foster care children, in permanent homes. Additionally, newborns or babies of expectant mothers may also be placed through agency adoption. Both public and private agencies specialize in finding homes for bi-racial, international, and special needs children of all ages.

What is a non-agency or independent adoption?

An independent (private) adoption places a child in a family without the help of an agency. In most cases, an intermediary, such as a clergyman or doctor, is used or a direct arrangement is established between birthparents and adoptive parents. Hiring a lawyer to handle all the legal aspects of adoption, including the explanation of all rights to all parties involved, is an absolute necessity in all situations. In some states, independent adoptions are carefully regulated or even prohibited to protect the child, the birth parents, and the adoptive parents.

What is an identified adoption?

An identified adoption, also called a parent-initiated adoption, helps birth parents and adoptive parents to find one another. They then use an adoption agency, another authorized group, or an individual to finalize the adoption.

What is a relative adoption?

Relative adoption includes any adoption in which a child is related to his adoptive parents by blood or marriage. The most prevalent type of relative adoption is stepparent adoption, in which a parent's spouse adopts the child and the other birth parent terminates all parental rights. Next most common is grandparent adoption, in which a child's grandparent or grandparents may adopt him if his parents die while he is still a minor.

What is an international adoption?

International adoption permits prospective adoptive parents to adopt children from foreign countries. Adoptive parents must secure an immigrant visa for their adopted child through the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and meet all requirements proposed. Such requirements include meeting age limitations, a favorable home study evaluation, and the completion of any and all relevant forms or paperwork. Adoptive parents must pay all expenses, including those incurred to fly to pick up and bring back the child. Lastly, because it is not granted automatically, U.S. citizenship must be obtained for the adopted child.

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