General Adoption Procedures

If you are thinking about adopting a child, you should learn about the basic procedures used in most types of adoption. If you understand the rules about parental consent, know how a home study works, and review the typical court procedures, you will be better prepared for the sometimes long and emotional process of adoption.

Consent to Adoption

Investigation of Adoptive Parents: The Home Study

The social worker gets information about issues considered important to the adoptive parents’ ability to raise a child, such as:

  • financial stability
  • marital stability
  • lifestyle
  • other children
  • career obligations
  • physical and mental health, and
  • criminal history.

In recent years, the home study has become more than just a method of investigating prospective parents; it serves to educate and inform them as well. The social worker helps to prepare the adoptive parents by discussing issues such as how and when to talk with the child about being adopted and how to deal with the reactions of friends and family to the adoption.

If the social worker writes a negative report, the person wishing to adopt may contest the conclusion. Each state has different appeal procedures. Some states provide for a separate procedure, while other states make the appeal part of the adoption hearing.


Court Process

All adoptions, whether handled by an agency or done independently, must be approved by a court. The adoptive parents must file an adoption petition — basically a request for approval — with the court and go through an adoption hearing.


Adoption Petition

A standard adoption petition will generally include:

  • the names, ages, and residence address of the adoptive parents
  • the name, age, and legal parentage of the child to be adopted
  • the relationship between the adoptive parents and the child to be adopted, such as blood relative or stepparent

Termination of Parental Rights

A hearing will be held to terminate the rights of the birth parents.  Once this occurs, formal placement of the adoptee is ordered.


Adoption Hearing and Order

At the adoption hearing, if the court determines that the adoption is in the child’s best interest, the judge will issue an order approving and finalizing the adoption. This order, often called a final decree of adoption, legalizes the new parent-child relationship and orders a name change if the new parents have asked for one.


Getting Help From GC Law Group

If you do not use an agency in your adoption, you must  hire a lawyer experienced in adoptions to file, represent you at any hearings, and finalize your adoption.

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