An adoption is often one of the happiest times in a family’s life since it is the formal welcoming of a new member into the family. Like other family law matters, each adoption is unique and requires careful preparation.
The process for adoption varies depending upon the specific circumstances of a case. All adoptions start by filing a petition with the court and serving the required parties, including the child who is the subject of the proceeding. In all cases when a child is to be adopted, a guardian ad litem will be appointed to investigate the matter to ensure the adoption is in the best interests of the child.
If the adopted parents are not related to the child, the Court will require a home study be performed by a licensed agency to ensure the child will be in an appropriate environment. Certain background checks may also be required. A guardian ad litem will also be appointed by the Court to interview the adoptive parents and child. For related adoptions, the appointment of a guardian ad litem may also be required in the discretion of the court.
If a biological parent exists, and if the biological parent’s parental rights have not been terminated, the parent will need to consent to the adoption and termination of their parental rights. Generally this is done before the Court, but there are other ways this may be done as well. If the biological parents do not consent, a hearing may be needed to determine if grounds exist for the termination of parental rights. If the biological parents’ parental rights are terminated and the guardian ad litem approves of the adoption, the adoption will be finalized and approved by the Court.
The time it takes for an adoption to be completed varies depending on the facts and circumstances. Costs will also vary depending on the facts and circumstances, issues that arise and time required to resolve all issues and to complete the process.
If you are considering an adoption, please contact us. An attorney can discuss the specific details of your adoption plans, the procedures and steps in the process, what you can expect, costs and and answer your questions.