Adopting a child is a consideration for parents who are unable to conceive child and those who have children and wish to adopt to help a child in need. The child adoption process can be reduced to two major steps:
- The first involves the process of matching a child available for adoption with adoptive parents and
- The legal process of finalizing the adoption.
These two main processes apply both to domestic and international adoptions. Following are the steps to consider while adopting a child:
Choosing the Type of Adoption
The first order of business involves deciding what type of adoption a family is interesting in pursuing. The choice involves considering several factors such as whether a family would like to adopt a baby or an older child, engage a domestic adoption or international adoption or use the private adoption system or through the state foster care system.
The Adoption Agency
Adoption agencies factor heavily in both domestic and international adoptions and in state and private adoptions by matching families who wish to adopt a child with children in need of adoption. Adoption agencies also provide the necessary background information on the child being adopted and provide oversight in ensuring that the home the child will be entering is appropriate. They also oversee how the child and adoptive family are adapting to each other once the child is placed in the home.
Costs will also vary per the type of agency selected. Although for some families, this will be the most important consideration, most families will agree that a professional agency that is a good fit for the adopting family is ultimately more important.
The adoption agency will work with the courts in the legal process of finalizing the adoption by providing an endorsement that the adoptive parents will provide a home life that is in the best interests of the child. The information gathered by the agency will be the product of a home visits, interviews and background checks conducted by an adoption professional.
The Legal Process
For domestic adoptions, adopting parents will be engaged in the process of making the adoption legal, thereby the parents will gain legal custody of the child and become the legally recognized parents of the adopted child.
Adoption Laws and Process
- The legal adoption process is started by filing a Petition for Adoption at the County Circuit Clerk’s office. It is important to note a Petition for Adoption cannot be filed until a child is available for adoption. This occurs when either the child’s biological parents have surrendered the child for adoption, or the court has entered an Order terminating their parental rights.
- Complete any final requests made by the Court or the adoption agency to complete the final steps in the adoption process. This will often include post-placement visits with the adoption agency and requests for any information regarding the birth parents’ consent to adoption, if relevant.
- When the court is satisfied that all legal requirements have been met, a final Judgment for Adoption will be issued. During this time there may be contact with the birth parents which will be through the adoption agency and the court.
- For international adoptions, the process varies in that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will be involved in the process since the adopted child will be entering the United States as an immigrant. In this case USCIS the adoptive parents must petition the United States government so that the child may immigrate immediately after the adoption or may immigrate to the United States to be adopted here.
Counsel experienced in navigating the adoption process can provide advice as to how best to proceed and the most cost effective manner for either a domestic or international adoption.