What Is Adoption?Deciding to adopt a child is one of the most important decisions you will make. Not surprisingly, it can be a very difficult decision to make. In considering adoption, you need to address a number of physical, emotional and legal issues.
Because of the complexity of the process, many people are reluctant to adopt. However, the right information can help to make the decision a little easier. To properly consider adoption, you need to have an understanding of adoption, and the adoption process.
Adoption, broadly defined, is a legal process that creates a permanent legal relationship between a couple or single adult, and a child. In many, but not all, cases, childless couples are matched with orphans, children without parents. A large part of adoption is this matching process.
Because adoption is a legal process, it goes much further than simply making suitable family matches. Parental rights and responsibilities are given to the adopting parents, and the adoptive child is granted the legal, emotional and social rights and responsibilities of a natural family member.
Once the adoption process is complete, the adoptive child is legal offspring, and has the same rights as any biological child, including the rights of inheritance.
To finalize an adoption, court proceedings are required. As part of these court hearings, the court must identify the biological parents of the potential adoptee. This is done, in part, to assure that the adoption is fair and lawful, and capable of withstanding any external conflicts.
The difficulty of determining biological parentage varies, depending on state law, and the circumstances of the adoption. One frequent scenario consists of a child who is a ward of the court--they are orphans, or the rights of their biological parents have been terminated by the courts.
Another scenario includes the adoption of an infant born to a teenage single mother, and the termination of the rights of the biological parents is done within the same court proceedings to finalize the adoption.
In the process of adoption finalization, the family court judge reviews all the gathered information about the child, their biological parents, and the adoptive parents. This information can include:
- the home study results
- an evaluation of the adopting parents and an assessment of their ability to take custody of the child
- reports from any pre-adoption counseling
- the adoption caseworker''s notes and recommendations as well as any additional information desired by the judge.
The following people are expected to be present at the adoption proceedings:
- the adoptive parents and their attorney
- the biological parents and their attorney
- the child or children being adopted
- the legal advocate for the child
- the child''s caseworker
- the caseworkers of both the adoptive parents and the biological parents.
With the people involved present, the judge will render an approval or disapproval of the petition for adoption. If the petition is approved, the adoption is finalized, the Adoption Decree is issued, and the child is made a permanent member of their new family.