How Does Adoption Work?

By US Legal Forms Team
7 min read
Table of contents

Adoption is a beautiful thing in this world that brings light, joy, and life to families and children who would otherwise have gone without. There are a number of reasons a family or individual may wish to adopt a child, perhaps they’ve been married to their spouse for some time and wish for stepchild adoption to have legal guardianship and be an active part of the child’s life. Or maybe they’re unable to have children, or they feel there are too many children without families and wish to forego having biological children. Whatever the case may be, it’s important to understand who is eligible to adopt, the types of adoption available, the paperwork involved, and the process.

First of all, we should define adoption. Adoption can be defined as “the act of taking something as one’s own”; however, in the context we’re referring to, we can say that it is “the voluntary acceptance of a child from other parents to be the same as one’s own child”. That’s a very powerful and emotional statement that isn’t for everyone. It’s important to be sure that it’s what you want and that you are of sound mind before taking on the responsibility of a child. US Legal Forms offers state-specific Child Adoption forms and form packages. Visit the USLF website to download the form valid in your state.

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The Different Types of Adoption

There are several types of adoption outside of open and closed adoption. For example, it is possible to adopt a child from a foreign country and there are methods for adopting a stepchild with an absent parent.

Closed vs Open Adoption

A closed adoption fits the tropes of most films portraying an adopted child. With a closed adoption, the adoptive parents did not receive the biological parents’ names or contact information. Closed adoption records are sealed. However, many states have implemented mechanisms by which families may obtain the biological parents’ information.

Open adoption is one where the biological parents and adoptive parents meet and often maintain contact. This is a more modern trend, yet, many adoption agencies encourage openness, even if ever-so-slight.

Independent Adoptions

These adoptions are arranged between the biological parents and the desired adoptive parents. Independent adoptions may remain open or semi-open if the biological parents wish to remain in contact with their child and the adoptive parents agree. However, there are some nuances with independent adoptions that apply on a state-by-state basis. While it is legal in most states, the rules of the independent adoption process can vary.

Agency Adoptions

Agencies are one of the most common paths future adoptive parents take. The biological parents of a child may feel their child is in better hands with a private agency, or the child is in the hands of a state agency for any one of several potential reasons. Either way, the adoption of a foster child from the state is generally faster and less expensive, albeit their counseling and other services are lacking.

Stepparent Adoptions

Being a parent is rewarding, many say that parenting was their greatest accomplishment in life. As a stepparent, there are some limitations to what you can do in emergency situations and with regards to legal decisions, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. While step parent adoption papers are typically much easier to process than someone adopting a child that does not live under the same roof as them, there is one caveat.

When discussing stepchild adoption, if your state does not have third-parent laws, you must first obtain consent from the other biological parent to terminate their rights. However, if the other biological parent does not consent but has abandoned the child, is an unfit parent, or is not the biological parent, their rights to the child may be terminated. Child abandonment, in this case, is only valid if the parent has not communicated with the child or provided child support over the period of one year (for most states).

Identified Adoptions

Identified adoptions are a sort of combination of types of adoptions. As an amalgamation of agency and independent adoptions, identified adoptions begin with the biological parents and future adoptive parents deciding to arrange the process. Where this differs from independent adoptions is that they utilize an agency for the paperwork.

International Child Adoption

Adopting a child from abroad is typically more expensive and involves some risk. Not all nations have high standards regarding adoption protocols, and legal adoption papers could be very messy, possibly frothing with bureaucracy or a lack of care in their documentation processes. Regardless of the risk, the best thing you can do, if your heart is set on it, is to try.

Where to Get Adoption Papers?

Whether you’re using an adoption agency or working on your own with an independent adoption, you must be approved by an adoption court.

Some of the first adoption forms pdf files you’ll need to take a look at come from the official IRS website:

Following these, you can find an adoption paper sample (petition of adoption letter) to submit to the court here. Additionally, we’ve linked the appropriate forms to the titles of the different types of adoptions, above.

How to File Adoption Papers Myself?

While it is entirely possible to complete the adoption process on your own, it is heavily recommended, due to the complexity of laws, to work with a lawyer that can help walk you through all of the steps and requirements via consultation. Once you’ve collected enough information on your state’s laws, rules, and regulations, you can follow through and manage the process yourself.

Due to the seriousness of adoption, it’s best not to make any mistakes, to appear unfit, or be of unsound mind or poor judgment as this could bar you or stall your progress. Of course, every public office has seen mistakes with documentation. Yet, these mistakes only set you back.

Who Can Be Adopted?

This question has an answer that may surprise you; the answer is anyone, including adults. While adoption papers for adults are typically done for estate purposes, there are other use cases for such a move. As for how to adopt children, the ages can vary from a stored embryo to a teenager. However, given that children are dependent on their parents, foster or biological, and are unable to fend for themselves, there will be much higher scrutiny when adopting a child.

Adoption papers for child and how to adopt a baby will depend entirely on the organization’s specialty that you’re adopting through if you’re using an agency. Because there are a very small number of infants available compared to the number of adoptive parents looking for infants, there is typically a very long waitlist. However, when it comes to older children and teenagers, this can also be true but to a far lesser extent.

More often, far more older foster children are available than foster parents looking for older children. If you’re able to open your heart to an older child, it could be everything you dreamed of, and without the teething phase.

Who is Eligible to Adopt?

Generally speaking, any single adult or married couple is eligible to adopt, as well as a stepparent. Some states allow for a married individual to adopt if their spouse is considered legally incompetent and they are legally separated. In a handful of states, the minimum age is 18, even fewer require the adopter to be at least 21 years old, while others restrict adoption until an individual has reached the age of 25. Some states require the adopter to be a minimum number of years older than the child they are trying to adopt (ranging from 10 to 15), and a couple of states allow minors to adopt under specific circumstances.

Over a third of states require that the adoptive parent be a legal resident with a permanent home in the state they are petitioning to adopt in. The period of their residency can vary from two months to twelve, or more. Of course, waivers exist for all situations, and if the court deems your situation to be worthy of a waiver, they will work with you.

Adoption forms may seem tedious and thorough, yet they are incredibly necessary to the process. Once you have begun the process of adoption, you will be required to complete a home study with a licensed professional in your state. This individual is usually a social worker who will educate and prepare you for your bundle of joy. They will also evaluate your capabilities as an adoptive household and family to ensure that you are suitable. They will interview you, your family, and visit your home to be sure that the little angel is in good hands and in a healthy environment.

Once the home study is complete with positive results, you will be approved for the adoption process to move forward. You will be able to view lists of children who are waiting for foster parent(s), or birth parents may select you. The adventure of parenthood is a wonderful one and we wish you a very happy family.

The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only. It should not be construed as any financial, legal, accounting, or tax advice on any subject matter and should not be relied upon for those purposes. You should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content included in this article without seeking legal or other professional advice. The contents of this article contain general information and may not reflect current legal developments or address your situation. We disclaim all liability for actions you take or fail to take based on any content on this article. The operation of this website does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and airSlate Legal Forms, Inc. or airSlate, Inc.

Disclaimer
The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only. It should not be construed as any financial, legal, accounting, or tax advice on any subject matter and should not be relied upon for those purposes. You should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content included in this article without seeking legal or other professional advice. The contents of this article contain general information and may not reflect current legal developments or address your situation. We disclaim all liability for actions you take or fail to take based on any content on this article. The operation of this website does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and airSlate Legal Forms, Inc. or airSlate, Inc

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