Legal Advice for Free™

All your legal needs from attorneys to legal research.

Home Attorneys Legal Subjects State Law Paralegals     


Every state has agencies that arrange and supervise adoptions by working with both the adoptive parents and the birth parents to match up adoptive parents with children. Generally, the adoptive parents are responsible for paying the birth mother's medical, legal and other associated expenses while the adoption is in progress. Older children are also available for adoption. Typically, in these cases, the parental rights of the birth mother and father have already been terminated by the state.

Actual adoption procedures vary from state to state. Nevertheless, all states require adoptive parents to prepare for the adoption with a social worker. This preparation includes an interview and a home inspection to determine whether they are "fit." Once the social worker and state agency are both satisfied, a court will finalize the adoption.

Adoption agencies are listed in the phone book, though it may be best to get a referral from an acquaintance instead.

Many agencies have long waiting periods before children are available for adoption. Because of the long delay, parents often look into adopting a child from another country. However, this is especially complicated. Anyone attempting to adopt a child from a foreign country will need to complete large quantities of paperwork and work closely with the Immigration and Naturalization Service. It is a good idea to find another parent that has adopted from the country you are considering and then contact the attorney that the person used.

Giving up a child for adoption traditionally meant that the birth mother (and usually father) surrendered all rights and were relieved of all responsibilities with respect to the child. Note that while some states allow a form of open adoption in which the birth parent retains some rights, the general rule is that adoption terminates all birth-parent rights in the child.

Adoption is an irrevocable option. It requires that the birth-parent sign an agreement to surrender all rights in the child. Once a certain point is passed, the birth-parents cannot "change their mind" and reinstate their parental rights. Thus, this decision is not one that should be made without consulting both a doctor and a counselor, in addition to a lawyer.

Each state has an agency that administers adoptions, and helps place children with prospective adoptive parents. People can also use private agencies, or a personal arrangement with an individual or couple. However, it is illegal for anyone to pay money for a child. Adoptive parents are allowed to pay the medical expenses and hospitalization costs for the birth mother and child. The prohibition against paying money for a baby prohibits, "I'll give you $30,000 if you give me your baby," arrangements.

While many states have a waiting period before an adoption is final, the period in which a mother may "change her mind" about the adoption is very short. Should she change her mind within the period, she must take the child back and assume all the rights and responsibilities regarding the child. Adoptions can also be rescinded but only if the adoption was predicated on fraud or was made without the mother's consent.

Traditionally, those who give up their parental rights under adoption have surrendered ALL their rights and responsibilities toward the child. The adoptive parents become the "real parents" of the child. Legally, the birth parents never existed. In such a case, the birth parents have neither a right of visitation, nor any other involvement in the child's life.

Open adoption is a more modern trend, though it is not recognized in all states. In this type of adoption, the birth mother surrenders all of her legal rights. However, the adoptive parents agree to let her visit the child on a schedule that is acceptable to everyone involved. This prevents adopted children from being cut off from their biological family. The attorney handling your adoption will be able to tell you if your state allows open adoption.

Most states require that a biological father be given notice of a pending adoption. In such a case, the father may object to the adoption, but only if the father is willing to assume full responsibility for the child himself. He cannot both refuse to allow the adoption to go forward and refuse to raise the child. In such a case, the state will terminate his parental rights.

Adoption records are usually sealed to prevent access by the public. While there has been a movement to open up the records, there has been an equally strong movement to keep the records private. Provisions vary on a state-by-state basis. Some states allow an adopted child to have access to the records once they reach the age of majority. Other states only release the records if both the child and birth-mother agree. Also, in some cases where the adopted child develops a serious health problem, the identity of the birth parents may be revealed if it is believed that the genetic information would be helpful.

If you are contemplating adopting a child, the first step should be to contact a civilian attorney licensed in the state in which the adoption will take place, and who is experienced in this field. Once you have talked to an attorney, you will be on the path to parenthood.

Home Attorneys Legal Subjects State Law Paralegals              

This site is designed to provide general information and not specific advice to any visitor. The information on this site is provided with the understanding that the authors and publishers are not herein engaged in rendering legal, accounting, tax, or other professional advice and services. This site is is not responsible for any errors or omissions. All information in this site is provided "as is", with no guarantee of completeness, accuracy, timeliness or of the results obtained from the use of this information, and without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including, but not limited to warranties of performance, merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose.

© Legal Advice for Free™. Legal Disclaimer. Privacy Policy. Contact Information.