There are over 400,000 children in foster care and others needing a home. A person who genuinely wants to provide a child with a better life is taking on a noble cause. But, as is expected when a child’s well-being is at stake, adoption is a long, stressful legal process that can take years. To move the process along as quickly as possible, a lawyer specializing in adoption or child custody is key.
If you’re thinking about adopting, use Rocket Lawyer’s legal resources to get started by educating yourself on the in’s and out’s of the adoption process. Or, set up a free consultation with Lawyer.com if you want to start talking to a legal professional right away.
Child Custody and Adoption Cases
Finalizing an adoption is a time-consuming, expensive and detailed legal process. Laws differ widely among the types of adoption, what state or country you’re adopting in and from, and the circumstances surrounding the adoption. Having a good adoption lawyer by your side is vital. They’ll help you navigate the strenuous pre-adoption process and shorten the often long waiting periods.
To adopt a child, you need to meet a number of eligibility requirements:
- 21 years of age
- Be financially stable and emotionally mature
- Fill out application
- Background/lifestyle check
- Proof of marriage or divorce
- Home study
- Criminal background check clearance
- History of abuse and/or neglect background check
- Adoption training
Then, decide which type of adoption is suited to your situation. Are you planning on working with an agency or is this a private adoption? Is this an international adoption, subject to both domestic laws and the laws of the nation the child is being adopted from? Or is this a kinship case, like when a grandparent adopts a child from its biological parent?
Having support as you navigate the intricate legal processes that define each of these cases is priceless. You can find a vetted adoption lawyer on Lawyer.com. They will connect you with an adoption agency, file the proper paperwork and represent you in court.
For each case, you can expect to complete a home study and compile a dossier. A dossier is a compilation of legal documents. In this instance, you’ll need to show a holistic view of your standing financially, your career and so forth. You’ll have to prove you’re fit to be an adoptive parent. The court wants to ensure you can provide a permanent and healthy home environment.
A wrongful adoption case comes to be when adoptive parents are misled or kept from vital information about the child they’re adopting by an adoption agency.
An agency is liable for wrongful adoption if they intentionally or negligently left out important details. The legal premise is that failure to disclose took away the adoptive parents’ right to make an informed decision, potentially causing harm to the family overall.
In a wrongful adoption case, damages are often sought. Some may involve a petition to dissolve and reverse the adoption. Damages may include but aren’t limited to:
- Medical bills
- Tutoring/special education expenses
- Lost wages of adoptive parent(s)
- Damages for emotional distress
You must be able to establish either fraud or negligence in these cases, so a lawyer is necessary to prove your case. Intentional misrepresentation or concealment of information constitutes fraud. Failure to fulfill the duty to disclose by misrepresenting or concealing information due to incompetence constitutes negligence.
Because adult adoption only requires the consent of the adoptee and adoptive person, they tend to move quickly. They’re also less expensive than other types of adoption. You can link with a legal expert on Rocket Lawyer to ask about your state’s laws regarding adult adoption.
There are many reasons to adopt someone over the age of 18, even though they can make their own legal decisions. If a family fosters a child and forms a significant bond with them, they may adopt them as an adult. Or, if a child feels a stronger bond with their stepparent than their biological parent, they may choose to be adopted when they are legally able to make that decision. Siblings who had parent-child relationships may also legitimize it later in life.
Although there are many symbolic meanings to adopting an adult, there are also legal considerations. By adopting an adult, you can establish them as your inheritor or add them to your insurance policy up to a certain age.
Although many states have provisions granting grandparents the right to visitation, at times it becomes necessary for a grandparent to assume legal guardianship of a child. A grandparent taking care of their grandchild may file a child custody case or start the process for legal adoption.
These are considered kinship adoptions, in which a close relative or caretaker assumes legal responsibility and decision-making powers for the child.
Because the caregiver often has custody of the child already, or there is a clearly established child-parent relationship, these cases tend to move quicker than others. But a lawyer can still be beneficial, especially if you’re fighting a parent for child custody. Lawyer.com will provide you with a list of good local child custody and adoption lawyers with its free lawyer search.
This is 1 of the most complicated types of adoption. They often take several years to complete and can cost about $30,000. If you are eligible to adopt and the adoptee is eligible to emigrate to the U.S., the adoption is subject to U.S. federal law, the laws in your home jurisdiction and the laws of the nation you are trying to adopt the child from.
Additionally, the adoption must adhere to 2 sets of policies, the Hague Adoption Process and Nonconvention Adoption Process. Rocket Lawyer provides the details of each here.
As you can see, these are intricate adoption cases for which a good adoption lawyer is non-negotiable. Most of these cases are handled through international adoption agencies, so retain a lawyer early on. They’ll be able to connect you with the right agency.
As opposed to independent adoptions, an agency adoption is facilitated by a public or private institution, which acts as the liaison between the adoptive parent and adoptee.
Public and private agencies differ somewhat. While private agencies usually have more resources for adoptive parents, they are also more selective. This goes both ways — they are more selective when approving prospective adoptive parents to move forward and often have a smaller pool of children looking for a family. You’ll need a lawyer to help you put your best foot forward.
Because children placed in public agencies tend to fall into categories that make them less likely to be adopted, there is often a surplus of adoptable children relative to adoptive parents. For this reason, these types of adoptions may advance more quickly. But, there aren’t as many resources to protect and assist adoptive parents, so do your due diligence by educating yourself on adoption law with Rocket Lawyer or setting up a free consultation with Lawyer.com.
Find a Good Adoption Lawyer
If you’re taking on the noble task of adopting a child, you have to prepare for a long, arduous process. A good child custody or adoption lawyer will make a world of difference. Start by talking to one of the legal professionals on Rocket Lawyer or Lawyer.com today.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is wrongful adoption?
A: Wrongful adoption is an adoption in which vital information was intentionally or accidentally kept from the adoptive parents. This could include false or misleading information about a child’s health or background.
The Supreme Court established that adoptive parents have the right to full disclosure of all information pertaining to a child’s background. Adoptive parents who discover they were misinformed can establish a case of wrongful adoption based on fraud or negligence.
Q: How do you overturn an adoption?
A: If you’re the adoptive parent, you must prove to the court that reversing the adoption is for the child’s well-being. An adopted child may also file a claim to reverse an adoption, whether through emancipation or as adults. And, birth parents can petition to have an adoption reversed, but this is very difficult. In certain jurisdictions, birth parents have the right to revoke consent up to a certain time.
Birth parents can also revoke prior consent when they gave permission under duress or due to fraud.
Q: How long does kinship adoption take?
It depends on the case and where the adoption is taking place. Generally, these cases can move faster than other types. Often, the adoptive parent already has custody of the child or takes care of them in some way. Adopting a child grants the adoptive parents certain important legal rights pertaining to the adoptee.