Adding a new member to your family is always exciting. Whether you are a single parent, a couple planning for your first child, or a happy family ready to grow some more, adoption promises a beautiful journey. Although the US has one of the best and most transparent adoption industries in the world, it can still feel overwhelming at times. Learning all the legal technicalities before you start the process can make it feel much less stressful. But, the more research you do, the more time you can spend enjoying the upcoming addition to your family.
Adoption Is Not Just for Babies
While many families are looking to adopt infants, not everyone is. When looking at the statistics, you see that there are more than 1.5 million adopted children in America, and more than half of the 130,000 adopted each year are over 6 years old. Birth parents also have a big role in the process, unlike in the past. Rather than all coming directly from foster care, many children transition from one home to another with love and support. Their birth parents play a large role in selecting the adoptive family and helping their child bond with their new household.
You Must Be a Legal Citizen
Currently, adoption is only legal for official citizens of the United States. Visas and green cards do not count. This means that both parents must hold citizenship and have valid IDs in order to qualify for adoption. Additionally, unmarried people must be at least 25 years old to adopt. Married people have to jointly adopt, even if they are separated but not legally divorced.
Criminal Background Checks Are Mandatory
Prospective parents do not simply apply to an agency, answer a questionnaire, and receive their perfect match. There is a detailed, comprehensive process to ensure that all people who wish to adopt are thoroughly screened. This helps you prove that you are fit to care for a child. This includes an assessment of their physical ability, mental health, emotional stability, and financial security.
Criminal background checks are also mandatory. The courts will also require fingerprinting and a home study before you can bring a child into your home. All of this can feel quite lengthy, but they do it with the child’s best interest in mind.
An Adoption Lawyer Can Help
You may find an attorney in family law who can help you handle the entire process more easily. They are able to complete all the necessary documentation and ensure the court files and processes it quickly. Because they are fluent in family law, they understand all the relevant details necessary to expedite the process.
The legal process of adoption can look a little different for everyone depending on their situation. For example, if you have an open adoption where the birth parents have visitation rights, the courts will draw up an agreement. This protects the child by establishing boundaries, including duration and frequency.
In a closed adoption, filing to adopt a child will happen after you have passed a background check and home study. You will need to submit documentation such as certified copies of your birth certificate and social security card, a certified marriage license, and your most recent pay stubs and tax return.
Reaching out to an adoption attorney or family lawyer can be a good first step if you want to know more about how adoption works. You can also connect with an adoption agency. Adoption agencies will match you with prospective children while also teaching you more about what to expect in the months ahead.
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