International adoptions can be complicated and require extensive documentation and research. If you are considering an international adoption, contact an attorney in your area experienced in these types of adoptions.
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Adoption Resource Links
American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law
The American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law works to improve children's lives by advances in law, knowledge, justice, practice and public policy. Its web site provides articles and other resources for the legal community interested in children's issues.
Child Welfare Information Gateway
The Child Welfare Information Gateway (formerly known as the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information and the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse) provides access to information and resources to help protect children and strengthen families.
Adoption Tax Credit
Information provided by the Internal Revenue Service on the federal adoption tax credit.
Medline Plus: Adoption
Gateway resource providing information on various adoption questions, including how to select an adoption agency, adopting children with mental or physical disabilities, costs of adoption and resources for financial assistance, adoption statistics, foster care and more.
National Center for Adoption Law & Policy
The mission of National Center for Adoption Law & Policy at Capital University Law School is to improve the laws associated with child protection and adoption systems. The site contains news and information for adoption professionals and those interested in adoption and child protection.
Adoption - An Overview
Adoption is the process of substituting one set of parents for another. After the adoption is complete, the new parents are the only parents recognized by the law and have the same rights and responsibilities as any other parents. If you are interested in building your family through adoption, contacting Law Office of Rebekah Brown-Wiseman, P.A. in Fort Lauderdale, FL, is a good place to start. Law Office of Rebekah Brown-Wiseman, P.A. can help you to understand what options are available to you.
Types of Adoption
There are many types of adoption. The most common types include:
- Domestic adoption: Adoptions that take place in the United States.
- International adoption: Adoptions by Americans of non-American children from another country. These adoptions can be the most complex, as adoptive parents will have to comply with the legal requirements of not just the child's birth country, but also of the US government and their state of residence before the adoption can be completed.
- Stepparent adoption: The most common type of adoption in which an adult married to the biological or adoptive parent of the child adopts the child to create a legal parent-child relationship.
- Open adoption: An adoption in which the parties agree to some level of contact with birth parents after an adoption is completed. In some states, like Virginia, it is not possible to make any agreement for such post adoption contact legally enforceable.
- Closed adoption: Traditional form of adoption in which the adoptive parents do not meet with the birth parent(s) and no identifying or other contact information is exchanged, although medical histories may be made available.
- Adult adoption: The adoption of an adult 18 years or older. More common in a foster family relationship where the child may not have been available to adopt until after his or her 18th birthday. Adult adoptions are easier procedurally to complete than child adoptions, with shorter waiting periods and less state requirements (such as home studies). The biological parents are not required to consent to the adoption.
Who May Adopt
Generally, anyone over 18 years of age who is capable of supporting a child is eligible to adopt. This includes single, divorced and married people; people from various economic, religious and cultural backgrounds; and people who already have children.
That being said, there are a number of restrictions that can be placed on who may adopt depending on where you live, the type of adoption you choose and whether you choose to use an agency. To successfully adopt a child, you will be required to meet the requirements set out by the state where you plan to adopt, by the agency (if you use one), and/or by the birth parent. Some states do not permit adoption by non-residents or by gay, lesbian and transgendered people. Agencies can decline to adopt to people over 50. Birth parents may not want a single parent to adopt their child. Even after you meet these requirements, the court still must approve the adoption.
Agency versus Independent Adoption
Individuals and families seeking to adopt a child domestically can choose to go through a state, public or private agency or work on their own to expand their families. Each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages that you should explore before making your decision.
- State agencies: Every state has its own agency for adopting children. These children are usually older and have been removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect. They also may have spent time in the foster care system.
- Private agencies: These agencies can be for-profit or non-profit in nature and are regulated by the state. Non-profit agencies usually have a specific focus, like religion. For-profit agencies generally are more expensive to use because they do not receive donations or other forms of funding. Agencies can have long wait lists for adoption and may restrict you to registering with only one agency. Agencies also can set their own criteria for adoption and may choose not to work with single or divorced parents or people over or under a certain age limit, for example.
- Independent adoption/direct placement: More newborns are placed through independent adoption than any other kind. This type of adoption provides birth parents with control over whom adopts their child and allows them varying degrees of involvement in the process. Independent adoptions also provide adoptive parents with more options, as they are not limited by the criteria imposed by agencies. Not all states permit independent adoptions.
Perhaps the biggest difference between using an agency or independent adoption is the timing of the birth parents' consent of the adoption. In an agency adoption, the birth parents relinquish their rights to the agency. By the time the child is placed in the adoptive home, all of the birth parents' rights have been terminated. In independent adoptions, the adoptive parents must work with the birth parents to secure consent to the adoption and termination of the parental rights, which may not happen until after the child has been born and placed with the adoptive family.
Most states require that a social worker prepare a "home study" prior to approving an adoption. The social worker will investigate criminal history, ask the parents to complete medical examinations, visit the home to make sure it is equipped for a new child, require adoptive parent training and counseling and review the parents' finances to make sure they can financially support a new member of the family. Adoptive families are responsible for the costs of a home study.
Laws governing adoption vary from state to state. Adoption attorneys understand complex adoption laws and can explain the rights and responsibilities associated with adoption. If you decide to use an adoption agency as well, your attorney can review the agency contract for validity and fairness. In short, the attorney will advocate for you at every stage in the adoption process, from initial inquiries to post-placement. Contact Law Office of Rebekah Brown-Wiseman, P.A. in Fort Lauderdale, FL, today to discuss your options for adoption with an experienced adoption attorney.
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