Adoption laws and procedures vary from state to state. While adoption laws and procedures differ significantly from state to state, several aspects are the same across all jurisdictions.
It has not always been legal to adopt. The law did not originally provide for adoption. Of course, adoption is now permitted and it is now specifically provided for in state laws, regulations, and court and administrative decisions. Each state has one or more administrative agencies that administer these laws.
State law defines who can adopt. This often includes married individuals jointly and single individuals.
State law defines who qualifies for adoption. This often includes specific definitions for minor children and adult individuals.
The Adoption Process
The general concept underlying adoption is that a minor child or adult can only have one set of parents at a time. Thus, for an adoption to occur, the biological parents must have their parental rights terminated. For minor children, parental rights can usually be terminated by a voluntary waiver executed by the biological parents or a court finding that biological parents are unfit to raise the child. Thus, for minor children, the adoption process usually starts once the parental rights of the natural parents are terminated. This process usually involves filing a petition for adoption with the courts. The court will then conduct hearings to determine whether the adoptive parents are fit to raise the minor child. The process is similar for adopting adult individuals.
If the court approves the adoption, it will enter an order of adoption. An order of adoption creates the parent-child relationship between the adoptive parent and the child or adult individual for all purposes. However, the adoption generally does not preclude or affect the rights of the biological or adoptive maternal or paternal grandparents’ reasonable access to minor children.
Types of Adoptions
A regular adoption occurs when the adoptive parents comply with all of the procedural requirements.
An equitable adoption occurs where the adoptive parent is perceived to be the child’s parent even though the adoptive parent does not comply with all of the procedural requirements.
An option adoption occurs where a mother, while pregnant, picks an adoptive parent and agrees to stay in touch with the child. This involves a written agreement between the genetic or biological mother and the adoptive parents which allows the biological mother to visit the child if the visitation continues to be in the best interest of the child.
Disclaimer: Every effort was made at the time of publication to ensure the accuracy of this publication. Individual circumstances will vary, and the law may have changed since publication, thus it is not intended to provide legal advice or imply a certain outcome. Readers considering legal action should seek legal advice from an experienced adoption attorney to learn about current laws and how they can affect their case.