There are several different adoption options. That being said, most people do not get to “choose” which type of adoption they are going to utilize. Rather, the type of adoption chooses them. Most people inquiring about adoption at our office are newly married and want to adopt their new step-children. This is termed a “step-parent adoption” and is the simplest and cheapest of the adoption choices. The next most common adoption is when an aunt and uncle (although it can include several other familial relations as well) want to adopt a family member’s child. This is called a “relative adoption” or an “identified adoption.” The last adoption option we typically see are “agency adoptions.” There are all sorts of reasons people use adoption agencies, but they are most commonly used when a person does not have the ability to utilize one of the former adoption options.
What Is The Process For Adopting A Child?
The process for an adoption can vary depending on the type of adoption you pursue. This being said, all adoptions start with a Petition. The Petition recites the allegations, or facts, that show the adoption to be granted. After filing a Petition you may obtain a hearing date for a judge to hear your testimony regarding the facts contained in the Petition. Between the filing date of your Petition and the hearing date, a varying number of things can occur, depending on the type of adoption. For instance, in some adoptions the parties desiring to adopt a child may have to go through extensive background checks and a comprehensive home study. In other adoptions a guardian ad litem must be appointed to interview the child, if old enough, and to discuss the adoption with the prospective adoptive parents and the biological parents who are giving their child up for adoption to make sure it is in the child’s best interests. In the simplest of adoptions, your attorney may be able to take care of all of the necessary paperwork and will simply have you show up for the hearing. In each adoption case you will want to be prepared for the questions your attorney will be asking you as this typically leads to a smoother process and a less stressful event for those testifying, especially those who are not comfortable with public speaking. In some instances, the biological parents must also show up to confirm their consent to the adoption before the judge. All of this can take as little as a month or six months or more, again, depending on the type of adoption utilized.
How Much Does An Adoption Cost?
The cost of an adoption varies greatly depending on the type of adoption. The simplest and cheapest adoption is the step-parent adoption. These typically run between $1,500 and $2,500. Similarly, a relative adoption typically costs between $2,000 and $3,000, given that there is the added expense of a guardian ad litem and all that goes along with the same. Adopting a child from foster care can vary depending on the state department you are working with and the individuals involved, but typically runs between $1,500 and $5,000. The most expensive adoptions in my experience are the private agency adoptions. While the attorney price typically stays the same i.e., between $3,000 and $5,000, the amount paid to the agency is typically much more. An agency will typically charge between $20,000 and $45,000 to help with the adoption process.
Can I Adopt My Spouse’s Child?
Yes, under certain circumstances. The biggest determiner in a person’s ability to adopt their spouse’s child is the state of the “other” biological parent’s relationship with the child. If the other parent has a great relationship with the child and exercises his or her parenting time, there is really no appreciable chance you would be able to adopt the child. However, in cases where the other parent does not see the child and has had no meaningful contact with the child for over a year, or in some cases wherein the other parent will consent to the adoption, your odds of being able to adopt your stepchild go up exponentially. One thing you may want to consider before doing so is that you will be fully financially responsible for the child in the future. This means that if you get a divorce, and your spouse is granted primary residential responsibility of the child, you may be required to pay child support. An adoption terminates the other biological parent’s obligation to support the child, which means that you will no longer receive child support from the other biological parent.
When Do I Need The Biological Parent’s Consent In An Adoption?
A parent’s right to be a part of his or her child’s life is protected by the United States Constitution and is only interfered with under a very limited set of circumstances. As such, it is always best to obtain the biological parent’s consent before moving forward. There are different ways to obtain a person’s consent that are unique to the type of adoption you are using, so make sure to consult with an attorney regarding the same. This all being said, there are certain circumstances under which an adoptive parent can move forward with an adoption without the other parent’s consent. These basically include a biological parent being absent from the child’s life or unable to parent the child. These are unique and very fact-specific, so you are going to want to talk to an attorney before spending the time and money on pursuing an adoption without the biological parent’s consent.
If you want to consult with someone regarding adoption please contact us!