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Adoption Attorneys


In America, 20,000 or more infants are placed for adoption each year. The average wait time for adopting is less than two years. Most of these adoptions are handled by a family attorney.

Not all persons wishing to go through with adoption restrict their search to a healthy baby of their own race. Many adoptive parents open their hearts to an older child, or a mixed race child, or a child from another country or even a special needs child.

Adoptions by middle aged couples and singles have increased over the past few years. Twenty three percent of adopted children live with single parents or same sex couples.

A common practice for gay men and women wishing to adopt is for one member of the couple to apply, followed by the second, for a co-parent adoption. An adoption attorney can advise you on the details of a co-parent adoption. 

Agency and private adoptions cost anywhere from $5,000 to $40,000 depending on travel expenses, birth mother expenses, state requirements and other factors. International adoptions range from $7,000 to $30,000. After the Adoption Tax Credit of $12,150 (for 2009) is factored in, adoption is said to be comparable in price to natural childbirth.

In 1997, President Clinton signed into law the Adoption and Safe Families Act (P.L. 105-89), to override the red tape that previously deterred the adoption of special needs kids.

Each state has its own State Adoption Agency to handle adoption placements. Private adoptions (or dependent adoptions) are arranged by attorneys, doctors or other intermediaries specializing in family law. When the natural parent lives in one state and the adoptive parents live in another, a private adoption (guided by the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children) is the only way to go. It is strongly advised to involve an adoption attorney in a private adoption proceeding.

The differences between private vs. state adoption are:

  • In a private adoption, the birth parents relinquish their rights to the adoptive parents, instead of an agency.
  • Both parties play an active role in the selection process.
  • The process moves much faster than the state process.

Private adoption parents can often take their newborns home from the hospital following birth, avoiding the usual agency wait time. In both state and private adoptions, it is against the law to pay someone for a baby. However, it is permissible to pay for the natural mother’s medical and legal expenses.

Potential parents wishing to privately adopt may turn to newspaper ads or the internet to locate a birth mother. Once the adoptive and birth parents reach an agreement, an adoption attorney  is needed to formalize the contract and ensure that the transaction is handled according to law.

Open adoption occurs when the adoptive parents, and often the adopted child, interact with the natural parents beyond birth. Communication may include letters, e-mails, telephone calls or even visits. The frequency of contact is negotiated and can change over time. The original communication terms should be finalized by the adoption attorney in order to protect all parties involved.

A closed adoption (also called a confidential or secret adoption) happens when the adoption records are sealed. The use of closed adoptions is declining because sealed records make it difficult for the adoptee, and the natural parents to later find each other if they wish.

Embryo adoption (aka, embryo donation) occurs when couples who have undergone in vitro fertilization allow their leftover embryos to be used by other childless couples. Allegedly, there are around 400,000 frozen embryos in this country, with about 9,000 designated for adoption.

Equitable adoption (also called putative or constructive adoption) occurs without the formal adoption procedure. A parent raises a minor in his/her home, acting as the parent of that child, without ever going to court to formalize the arrangement.

Adoption by Estoppels is a remedy available to the child who was raised in an Equitable adoption situation. If that parent should omit the child from his/her Will, the child is allowed to present a rightful claim for a portion of the parent's estate based on Adoption by Estoppels.

Adult adoption which is prohibited by some states occurs when one adult adopts another adult, age 18 or older, who is not related to them. Adoption of adults differs from child adoption in three ways: No parental consent is required, No agency investigation is required and It can be terminated by the adoptee.

Foreign Adoption Approximately 20,000 foreign country adoptions take place each year in the U.S. Both The Department of Homeland Security  and The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) play roles in this adoption process.

On April 1, 2008, The Hague Adoption Convention stepped in to monitor all foreign adoptions in the U.S. Once a background and criminal check on the adoptive parents has been completed and their suitability established, both the Orphan process (which is for non-Hague countries) and The Hague Adoption Convention determine whether the child is eligible for immigration to this county.

Do-it-yourself adoption kits may be purchased online or in stationery shops to save money on some of the legal expenses of a formal adoption. But, most experts recommend hiring an adoption attorney, thus avoiding a potential future legal challenge which could overturn your parental rights.

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