Introduction to Adoption
Adoption is a unique and wonderful way for a family to grow. It is a life-altering process that can be both thrilling and completely unpredictable. Everything about the journey of an adoption is unique and special, just like the child or children that will one day be added to an adoptive family.
You may have been considering adoption for some time now or this may be your first exposure to the concept of adoption. Wherever you are in the process, this article will help answer the most basic questions you may have about adoption.
What can I expect from the adoption process?
Each adoption is different. The adoption process varies greatly depending upon the type of adoption, age and location of the child, etc. Due to the variables in adoption, it is important to select an adoption agency and/or adoption attorney who is competent to handle your type of adoption.
What kinds of adoption are available?
There are several different kinds of adoption that a family may consider. Below is a comprehensive list and brief explanation of each kind of adoption:
1. International Adoptions
International adoptions occur when a family from the United States adopts a child who is living in a different country. International adoption agencies work together to facilitate international adoption placements. These are often the most expensive and time-consuming adoption and may require a visit or visits to the child’s country of birth. International adoption law is complicated because the process is governed by three sets of laws: the laws of the country in which the child resides, United States federal immigration law, and the laws in the state of your residence.
2. Domestic Adoptions
Domestic adoptions are adoptions where a family from the United States adopts a child who is living in the United States. Below is an explanation of the four different kinds of domestic adoption.
3. Private Agency Adoptions
Many families who are considering adoption are interested in adopting infants. The most common way for a family to adopt an infant is to work with a private adoption agency. These agencies range from small local agencies to large national agencies. These agencies will represent the adoptive family and will try to find an adoptive child that meets the needs and criteria of the adoptive family. Biological parents often have a role in choosing the adoptive family who they want to adopt their child. Private agency adoption costs usually range from $10,000-$20,000 and take anywhere from a few months to a few years before a successful placement is made.
4. Social Service Agency Adoptions
Every county has a social welfare department that manages children who are removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect, dependency or other reasons. These children can be as young as infants or as old as seventeen. Once removed from their biological relatives, these children are placed in temporary foster homes. If a biological parent’s rights are permanently terminated by the state, the child becomes eligible for adoption. Many foster parents serve as foster-to-adopt families. These families keep foster children with the knowledge that they may be able to adopt those children in the future should the children becomes eligible for adoption. Some parents who do not serve as foster parents simply elect to adopt children who are eligible for adoption through their county’s social service agency. These adoptions are often the least expensive for adoptive families because the government subsidizes these adoptions in an effort to encourage families to adopt eligible foster children.
5. Private Placement Adoptions
Private placements occur when a potential adoptive family independently becomes aware of a child who is eligible for adoption. These connections are often made through relatives, friends and social media outlets. An adoptive family makes a connection with a biological parent and an agreement is reached for the family to adopt the child. An adoptive family uses attorneys and the court to facilitate the agreement and finalize the adoption process.
6. Family Adoptions
Step-parent and grandparent adoptions are common. These are often the simplest and most straight-forward types of adoption. Generally, they require a small amount of paperwork to be filed with the local court and the family’s appearance at a single court hearing.
Will the biological family be able to see the child after the adoption is completed?
An adoption may either be open or closed. An open adoption is when a biological family maintains contact with an adopted child. A closed adoption is when a biological family has no contact with an adopted child. The adoptive family is in control of deciding whether an adoption should be open or closed. Often, the agreement is made between the biological parents and the adoptive families prior to the finalization of the adoption. Open adoptions are gaining in popularity. The extent to which an adoption is open varies dramatically. Some open adoptions have minimal contact. For example, an adoptive family may send pictures and a letter to the biological parents once a year. Some adoptive families have significant contact. For example they may invite the biological family to the child’s events, holidays and birthdays. No legislation exists that requires an adoptive family to uphold their agreement as to whether their adoption is open or closed. A biological parent has no recourse against an adoptive family who originally promised an open adoption but fails to uphold that agreement.
What should I do once I decide to pursue adoption?
If you decide to pursue adoption, you should first contact an experienced adoption agency or adoption attorney to discuss your options and start the home study process.
All adoptions require the adoptive family to undergo a home study process. The home study involves a thorough review of your home, family and background. The study results are ultimately given to the court and a judge will make a decision as to whether you have a suitable adoptive home. The home study process must be conducted by a licensed agency. The process takes anywhere from one to six months to complete and costs vary based on the agency you choose.
With the exception of some international adoptions, a court appearance is required for finalization of an adoption. A six-month waiting period is required before this court appearance. The court will review the home study and adoption pleadings and grant a final adoption based on the court’s discretion.
You should seek the advice of an accountant to discuss the adoption tax credits that may be available to you to offset the cost of your adoption.
If you are interested in learning more about adoption, contact McClain Law, LLC.
Artificial Reproductive Technology Law
Artificial Reproductive Technology (ART) law is a rapidly growing area of the law. Assisted Reproductive Technology uses cutting edge medical technology to achieve pregnancy by artificial or partially artificial means. Artificial reproductive technology is commonly referred to as “fertility treatment”.
The law of Artificial Reproductive Technology, much like the medicine, is constantly evolving and changing. As advances in medicine make continual strides forward, the law is quickly chasing after it and trying to stay current.
Many states have a noticeable absence of legislation in this area of the law. Much of the current policy and procedure of Artificial Reproductive Technology law is dictated by case precedence (case law) and independent procedures established by individual courts. Understandably, the court policies and procedures vary greatly by court.
The most common Artificial Reproductive Technology law relates to gestational carriers (surrogates), ovum (egg) donors and Intended Parents. Depending on the law of each state, Intended Parents may or may not be allowed to hire surrogates and/or purchase ovum and sperm donations.
Gestational Carriers are hired by Intended Parents in an effort to carry a pregnancy to term and deliver a healthy child. Much like traditional adoption, Gestational Carriers and Intended Parents can be matched via an agency or through personal contacts. The Gestational Carrier carries a child and facilitates a pregnancy and birth for the Intended Parents. At the time of the child or children’s birth, the Gestational Carrier surrenders the child or children she carried to the Intended Parents.
A Gestational Carrier undergoes thorough medical and psychological testing to assure that she is a good candidate. After an abundance of tests and reviews, the Gestational Carrier undergoes In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). During IVF, one or more embryos are transferred to the womb of the Gestational Carrier. The embryo often consists of the genetic material of one or both of the Intended Parents. However, if genetic material is unavailable, ovum and sperm donors are utilized to create a viable embryo.
Artificial Reproductive Technology law will undoubtedly be an exciting and evolving area of the law over the next several decades. As Artificial Reproductive Technology advances the law will certainly follow.
Please contact McClain Law with questions about Artificial Reproductive Law or Adoption.
Social Networking’s Impact on Adoption
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have significantly changed the face of adoption. The traditional ways to find an adoption placement are no longer the only ways to find a child to adopt.
Long gone are the days of adoptive families quietly waiting while an adoption agency works to find them a placement. Adoption agencies are still the primary way that adoptive matches are made. Most adoptive matches come through licensed adoption agencies. However, many adoption agencies encourage families to blog, post and tweet their way to an adoptive placement.
Due to the loosening of Ohio’s adoption advertising laws, more families are now able to advertise themselves as potential adoptive families. Today’s new landscape of online social networking has made it easier for families who are trying to adopt. Many families take to the internet in an effort to advertise their desire to find an adoptable child.
For example, many families make posts on their Facebook pages about their infertility struggles or their desire to adopt. Families also blog and tweet about their adoption aspirations and about their search for an adoptive match.
Social media has allowed many families to find their own adoption placements. If you are considering adoption you want to consider sharing the news via social media … you never know who might be watching!
This article was written by attorney Lauren McClain. Please contact McClain Law LLC with additional questions or comments.
International Adoptions: How to Obtain A Certificate of Citizenship
Evidence of United States citizenship is important for your adopted child. For this reason, McClain law recommends that you obtain a Certificate of Citizenship for your child following your international adoption or re-adoption processs.
Most international adoption agencies help their clients complete this process. However, It is possible to do yourself. The application is easily accessed online. Below you will find the link to give you additional information on how to obtain a Certificate of Citizenship through USCIS.
The purpose of the Certificate of Citizenship is to establish citizenship. In the past, the federal government has not consistently viewed passports and/or social security cards as definitive evidence of citizenship. There are even rare situations when a birth certificate is insufficient to establish citizenship and a Certificate of Citizenship is necessary.
If an internationally adopted child’s family does not apply for his or her Certificate of Citizenship, that child’s USCIS file remains open. Therefore if, as an adult, an adopted child gets in legal trouble or stays outside of the United States for more than one year, USCIS may not be able to verify that the child is already a United States Citizen. By obtaining the Certificate of Citizenship, the child’s file is complete and USCIS has knowledge that the child is a United States citizen.
There is no such thing as too much evidence of citizenship. McClain Law, LLC strongly recommends that anyone completing an international adoption also obtain a Certificate of Citizenship.
The Importance of Filing an Adoption Petition Quickly
Historically, adoptive families have been slow to file for adoption. A child is placed in their home and they are overwhelmed by the excitement and responsibility of having a new child. However, there are important legal reasons that a family should file for adoption as soon as possible.
Developments in case law have made it imperative that adoptive families file their Petitions for Adoption quickly. Several cases have been decided in which adoptions have been disrupted, litigated and overturned due to the failure of the Petitioners to expeditiously file a Petition for Adoption. The failure of adoptive families to file for adoption quickly opens them up to jurisdictional contests and other related legal issues.
Ohio Revised Code section 3107.051 states, “a person seeking to adopt a minor, or the agency or attorney arranging the adoption, shall submit a petition for the minor’s adoption no later than ninety days after the date the minor is placed in the person’s home”. Despite Ohio Revised Code section 3107.051, courts rarely make an issue of adoptive families filing their Petitions for Adoption more than ninety days after placement. However, failing to file as quickly as possible can open the door to litigation in numerous venues at one time and create judicial chaos and confusion. Additionally, it can increase the risk associated with the adoption.
Please be aware that many local Ohio counties require a certified copy of a Birth Certificate to be filed with the Adoption Petition. Therefore, it is imperative that your agency make all efforts to obtain a birth certificate as quickly as possible following the child’s birth.
At McClain Law, we make every effort to file Adoption Petitions as quickly as possible.
If you are an adoptive family, our recommendations are as follows:
- Seek legal counsel before the child’s birth where possible. If you are matched after birth, seek legal counsel immediately;
- Make all efforts to obtain the child’s birth certificate as quickly as possible (if your agency or attorney is requesting this, be clear that this is a priority and you want to ensure the document will be obtained at the earliest opportunity);
- If there are concerns about non-custodial biological family members contesting the adoption, utilize an attorney to seek an Interlocutory Order of Adoption; and
- Notify your adoption agency and attorney that you wish to have the adoption filed as soon as possible so they understand your desire to expedite the process.
Adoptive parents do not need to be fearful of this time crunch. With a competent attorney and adoption agency, if applicable, the birth mother and adoptive family can trust that the adoption they planned will be filed quickly.
International Re-Adoption 101
Congratulations! After many months (or years) of working toward your international adoption you’ve finally arrived home with your new child.
You are happy to be done with the paper chase otherwise known as “international adoption”. The last thing you want to do in begin another paperwork process. However, do not stop here! You should complete a re-adoption for your newly adopted child.
Why should you re-adopt? The purpose of the re-adoption process is to allow a United States Court to recognize your international adoption. The re-adoption will allow your family to obtain a US adoption decree, US birth certificate, and an official name change. The US adoption decree and birth certificate will be issued from the county in which your family currently resides.
The re-adoption is not mandatory but is highly recommended. It will give your family peace of mind in knowing that your adoption is legitimately recognized in the US. For the rest of his or her life, your child will be able to rely on his or her US birth certificate and adoption decree rather than translated international documentation.
I recommend starting the re-adoption process one to three months after returning from your child’s country of birth.
McClain Law makes the re-adoption process as easy as possible! The re-adoption requires just one visit to our office and one trip to Court. The process is fairly inexpensive and straight-forward. We look forward to working with you on the last step in your adoption paper chase … your re-adoption!
The End of the Adoption Paper Chase: Obtaining A Child’s Adoption Records
Adoptive parents understand the massive paper chase that is associated with an adoption process. Beginning with the home study and/or dossier, adoptive parents are inundated with paperwork. An adoption finalization hearing signals the conclusion of the adoption process. However, there are a few additional pieces of paperwork that need to be obtained after an adoption finalization hearing.
Adoptive parents who complete a domestic adoption finalization will receive a number of legal documents. Depending on the jurisdiction or court, the parents may obtain a new Adoption Decree, Magistrate’s Decision and Adoption Certificate.
The child will have an original birth certificate issued at the time of birth. The original birth certificate is a certified document which indicates the child’s birth information, including the birth mother’s name, birth father’s name (if known), the date, place and time of birth. Following the adoption finalization, an amended birth certificate will be issued. An amended birth certificate is similar to the original birth certificate but names the adoptive parents as the child’s biological parents.
Following receipt of an amended birth certificate, adoptive parents will need to acquire a social security number and card for their adopted child. This will allow an adoptive family to claim their adopted child as a dependent for tax purposes. If a child already has a number when he or she is adopted, adoptive parents may either keep the same number or have a new number assigned. I always recommend a child obtain a new social security number. However, if the child is receiving social security benefits or supplemental security income payments, the Social Security Administration will not assign a new number but will update the child’s record.
After a child has received adoption finalization documents, an amended birth certificate and a new or updated social security number, the adoption paper chase is officially complete.
**The information posted by McClain Law, LLC is not intended to be legal advice.**