Adoption Process in the United States

The process of adoption is quite common in the United States. This practice allows the natural parents of a child to give up all parental responsibilities and rights to another parent or set of parents. Adoption can also happen when the child’s birth parents are deceased. This transfer of custody is considered to be permanent.

Even though an adopting mother or father will never become an adopted child’s blood parent, he or she will still assume the position of the child’s legal guardian. This means that, once the adoption is complete, the child will become the new parent’s dependent and heir. At this time, the child’s blood parents also cede all rights as the natural guardian. Essentially, the title and responsibilities as a parent are wholly transferred from the natural to the adopting parents.

Open Adoption vs. Closed Adoption

In general, there are two main types of adoptions that you can complete – open or closed adoption. While some jurisdictions only allow one of these options, most allow both. In decades past, closed adoption was the only option available to those wishing to adopt. Nowadays, however, both choices are typically available.

In an open adoption, the birth parents are allowed to choose the adoptive parents. Not only that, but there will exist an open relationship between them. Many times, the two sets of parents will stay in communication with each other and the birth parents will be present in the child’s life as he or she grows up.

During a closed adoption, however, the child is given to an intermediary agency that will select the adoptive parents. No personal information on the natural parents is given to the adoptive parents, so the child cannot find, meet, or communicate with his or her natural family. Sometimes, under closed adoptions, the child will never know that he or she was born to a different set of parents.

Considerations in Step-Parent Adoption

People have many reasons for requesting to formally adopt their step-children. It can be the best way to clear up legal complications regarding parental rights or child support. It can also be a way for blended families to bond or feel more “complete.” Adopting a step-child is a very personal choice that each family must make for themselves; no one else can tell you if it is the right thing to do.

If you are considering a step-parent adoption, either as a biological parent or step-parent, there are many legal challenges you may face. For helpful legal advice and efficient assistance with every step of the process, call the San Diego step-parent adoption lawyers of Fischer & Van Thiel, LLP at 858-935-6211.

Questions to Ask

Before your family reaches a final decision about step-parent adoption, there are some complex issues that need to be carefully considered. A few basic topics to be discussed include:

  • How do the children feel about this? In California, children aged 12 or older must give their consent to being adopted by their step-parents. Even if your child is under 12, it is important to consider his or her thoughts on the new arrangement. Forcing step-parent adoption on children can make them feel like their biological parents are being forgotten or replaced.
  • Do you have the absent biological parent’s consent? California requires the consent of both biological parents before a step-parent adoption can proceed. The only exception is in the event of children who have been abandoned – i.e., the absent parent has not contacted them or paid child support in a year.
  • Can you find the absent biological parent? Even if you do not know where the other biological parent is living, or even who he or she is, you will need to locate him or her and obtain his or her consent. If you cannot find him or her, you will need to show the court documentation of every attempt you made, so it is important to make a real effort.
  • How will this affect everyone in the family? The adopting step-parent will be taking on many legal responsibilities that he or she did not have before. The adopted child may have mixed feelings or fears about the future. The biological parent may also have concerns about making this kind of commitment or receiving child support from the absent parent.

A qualified San Diego step-parent adoption attorney can provide legal details to help you make this complicated choice.

Avoiding the Dangers of Adoption

Adoption is the process by which an expectant mother gives up parental rights of her newborn child and places those rights with another individual or couple for the remainder of that child’s life. This process is quite common in the United States and it is estimated that about one million children in the country live with an adoptive family. Recent reports state that between 2 and 4 percent of American families include an adopted child. Though this process is usually a very loving one that can have great benefits for both families, there are certain dangers and complications that one should be aware of before engaging in this process.

Adoption is a legal procedure and one that you should not try to navigate alone. If you or someone you love is considering adoption, you should contact an experienced attorney to help with your case. To learn more about adoption laws and procedures in your area, contact the San Diego family lawyers of Fischer & Van Thiel, LLP today at 858-935-6211.

Recognizing Adoption Risks

Individuals or couples considering adoption should be aware of the following potential risks and issues:

  • Birthparent scams
  • Disruptions in the adoption process
  • Failed adoption
  • Agency closing/financial loss
  • Undisclosed health/psychological/medical challenges
  • Extremely long wait times causing undue emotional stress

No matter which side of the adoption process you are on, it is important to hire a credible, experienced attorney to help ensure that things go smoothly. By working with someone who has had years of experience in family law, you may be able to avoid common pitfalls or rookie mistakes that others may fall victim to.

Adoption Adding New Family Members

Adding a new member to your family can be one of the most joyous moments imaginable. Adoption is one option individuals have for growing their family. Prior to consulting with an adoption agency, it’s suggested that individuals looking to adopt first consult with a family law attorney. Legal adoption requires that a child’s biological parents terminate their parental rights. The potential adoptive parents can then pursue taking the child in as one of their own.

An attorney’s guidance assures that all legally binding contracts and/or state laws regarding the adoption process are followed. Adoption can be pursued through any of the following:

  • Agency
  • Private
  • Step-parent
  • Second-parent
  • International

Legal guardianship is also another subfield of family law. A legal guardian is usually given the same responsibilities as a biological parent. Guardianship, however, differs significantly. It does not permanently sever a child’s ties with his/her parents. Rather, the child’s custody rests on someone else other than the parent(s). These guardians can also be identified in a will.

Helpful Links

Contact Us

If you are considering adopting a child, then the help of an experienced family attorney can be invaluable. Contact the San Marcos Family Lawyers of Fischer & Van Thiel, LLP today at 858-935-6211 to speak with us about your situation.