Your Legal Rights at Work

What's Involved In Adoptions

by Lewis Hamilton

It's important when you are considering adoption to familiarize yourself with the basic processes that are relevant to different forms of adoption. These processes include things like understanding how a home study works, paternal consent rules, and court procedures. Since adoption can be an emotional journey that will most likely take longer than you would prefer, it's essential that you are fully prepared for the entire process.

Consent to Adopt

In any legal adoption, the child's birth parents have to give consent for the adoption to take place. This is always true unless the rights of the birth parents have legally been terminated, as in the case of the parents being deemed unfit. The majority of states do not permit a birth parent to consent to their baby being adopted before it is born. In fact, many states require a longer period of time; usually 3–4 days must pass after the child's birth before a consent form can be signed.

What this means is the child's birth parents have a legal right to decide not to permit an adoption to proceed during this period. Keep in mind that states do differ on when consent can be given and how long it will take for it to become finalized. Also, many states give a child's birth parents up to three months after the child has been adopted to revoke this consent. This is one of the reasons why some states have a requirement in place that birth parents undergo counseling prior to agreeing to give consent.

Home Studies

Every state in the country requires that adoptive parents undergo a thorough investigation to determine if they are both fit and capable of properly raising a child. This type of investigation is referred to as a home study. Normally, a social worker will be assigned to examine the home and lives of the potential parents. This individual will then report back to the court on their findings, offering either a negative or positive recommendation. Ultimately, it is the court that must make a final decision on the adoption, but this report does have a serious impact on the court's ruling.

Court Procedures

Whether an adoption is done independently or through an agency, all adoptions require final court approval. First, adoptive parents are required to submit a petition to adopt the child (adoption petition), which is a formal approval request. Next, the petitioners must attend a hearing where the question of the adoption will be considered. Prior to this hearing, all parties that must give their consent will receive notice.

At the hearing, the court must decide what is in the best interest of the child concerned. If the court approves the adoption, it will issue an order (often referred to as a final decree) making legal the relationship between the new parents and child. It also orders that the child's name be changed if the parents have requested this. It's important to understand that a legal adoption can be a complex and lengthy experience. Therefore, the assistance of a qualified attorney like Bahan Law LLC can be of enormous help in successfully navigating through the difficult adoption process.