Our Adoption Practice Group can assist clients in a number of domestic and international matters including:
- Readoptions (Domesticating Foreign Decrees)
- International Adoptions
- Domestic Adoptions
- Birth (Expectant) Parent Representation
- Adoption Disruptions
- Second Parent Adoptions/Stepparent Adoptions
- Orphan Visa (R-3 and R-4) Appeals (I-600 Notice of Intent to Deny "NOIDS")
- International Family Law
- International Divorce Issues
- International Custody Issues
- International Abductions (Abduction Prevention)
There are quite a few different ways to bring a child into your life, or confirm your legal relationship with one, through adoption. While certainly not comprehensive, the following information can help you understand more about the different ways adoption can work.
Agency adoptions involve the domestic placement of a child with adoptive parents by a public agency, or by a private agency licensed or regulated by the state. Public agencies generally place children who have become wards of the state for reasons such as orphanage, abandonment, or abuse. Private agencies are sometimes run by charities or social service organizations. Children placed through private agencies are usually brought to the agency by a parent or parents who have or are expecting a child they want to give up for adoption. Agencies help provide social resources to birth mothers and adoptive parents and facilitate the process.
In a private, or independent, adoption, no agency is involved in the adoption. Some independent adoptions involve a direct arrangement between the birth parents and the adoptive parents, while others use an intermediary such as an attorney, doctor, or clergyperson. But for most independent adoptions, whether or not an intermediary is used, an attorney will be needed to take care of the court paperwork. Most states allow independent adoptions, though many regulate them quite carefully. Independent adoptions are not allowed in Connecticut, Delaware, or Massachusetts. Our staff is familiar with interstate compacts and can assist you with adoptions involving different state jurisdictions. An "open adoption" is an independent adoption in which the adoptive parents and birth parents have contact during the gestation period and the new parents agree to maintain some contact with the birth parents after the adoption, through letters, photos, or in-person visits.
In a stepparent adoption, a parent's new spouse adopts a child the parent had with a previous partner. Stepparent adoption procedures are less cumbersome than agency or independent adoption procedures. The process is simplified if the child's other birth parent consents to the adoption. If the other birth parent cannot be found or if he or she refuses to consent to the adoption, there is more paperwork to do and and the process is more involved. A consultation with an attorney can discuss the process in more detail, especially if there are issues involving the identity or location of a birth parent.
Relative (Kinship) Adoptions
In a relative adoption, also called a kinship adoption, a member of the child's family steps forward to adopt. Grandparents often adopt their grandchildren if the parents die while the children are minors, or if the parents are unable to take care of the children for other reasons (such as being in jail or on drugs). In most states, these adoptions are easier than non-relative adoptions. If the adopted child has siblings who are not adopted at the same time, kinship adoption procedures usually provide for contact between the siblings after the adoption.