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#540 Adoption procedures

mp3 #540 General Information About Adoption Procedures (mp3 file)

Family Law matters are very complex. Many who try to handle these matters on their own quickly find themselves overwhelmed and out of favor with the courts. Often times costs are cited as the reason for self representation. However, most people with assets and retirement plans stand to lose significant amounts of money, or worse, lose custody of their children if they are not properly represented. Continue here to be referred to an experienced and insured Family Law attorney:

The act of adopting a child establishes a parent-child relationship between a child and adults who are not the natural parents. The adoptive parents and child acquire the same relationship and the same rights and responsibilities as in the natural parent-child relationship.

A successful adoption is probably one of the happiest of all legal proceedings. There can be complications and pitfalls, however, and because of this, anyone thinking about this option should be fully aware of any problems that may be encountered along the way. Basic adoption policy is that the first concern is always for the best interest of the child. The interests of anyone else connected with the case, including the natural and adoptive parents, are secondary.

Who may adopt a child? A couple married and living together may become adoptive parents. An unmarried person may also adopt a child. The court will need to know the kind of person you are, your mental and physical health, your background, and your ability to provide a child with a good home, emotionally and financially.

There are actually four types of adoptions. First, the independent adoption; second, the agency adoption; third, the step- parent adoption; and fourth, adult adoption. Each different method of adoption has its own particular procedure, but certain procedures are alike. Generally, a petition for adoption must be filed first. Consents must be obtained from the natural parent or parents, or if an agency is involved, the consent of that agency. After the petition is filed, a period follows during which the child may live with the adoptive parents and during which the child's welfare is checked through visits from a court authorized agency. At the end of this probationary period, if the child's new home situation is found to be satisfactory, a court hearing is held in private in which the qualifications of the parents are reviewed by the court, and if satisfactory, a permanent decree of adoption is granted. In the case of an agency adoption, a petition for adoption is filed only after the probationary period is satisfactorily completed.

An important decision for most people who want to adopt a child is whether to go through an agency or whether to arrange an independent adoption. There are important points to consider before deciding.

With agencies, there is generally a waiting period before a child is available. The legality of the adoption, the physical and mental condition of the child, and the background of the natural parents, are all checked carefully and investigated thoroughly by the agency staff.

Independent adoptions may cause difficulty for the adoptive parents if the natural parents of the child change their minds about the adoption and want the child returned. Cases like this are decided in court and the best interests of the child are a major factor.

Step-parent adoption is very common. A husband or wife may want to legally ensure the relationship that already exists with a child from the spouse's previous marriage. This gives the step-child the same name and same rights as other members of the immediate family. Often a step-parent has lived with the child for a number of years, feels a closeness to and a responsibility for the child, and wants to make the relationship legal and permanent. It may seem a mere formality, but adoption is necessary if the step-parent wants the step-child to have all the same legal rights his natural child would have. In step-parent adoptions, as with all other adoptions, if the child is twelve years of age or older, he or she must give his or her consent to the adoption.

The divorced natural parent of the child must also give consent, unless that natural parent has failed to communicate with and support the child, for a period of one year without good cause. In such a case, the court may dispense with the consent of the divorced natural parent. Often, a natural parent may be reluctant to give up claim to his child and his or her decision must not be forced.

In the case of adult adoptions, which are rare, any adult may adopt any other adult except one's spouse, provided the adoptive parent is older than the adopted adult. The legal procedure is similar to that involved in other types of adoptions, but is much simpler.

Are adoption records kept confidential, after an adoption is granted and made final by the court? California law is clear that adoption records are to be kept confidential. The court's order of adoption, and the child's original birth certificate, are not open to public inspection except by court order based on good cause approaching necessity. Usually, a new birth certificate is established with the child's new name and his new parents' names.

What if an adopted child has grown to adulthood, and now wants to look up his natural parents? Will the adopted child be given this information? An adopted child upon reaching the age of 21 may request of the department or licensed agency who participated in the adoption that the identity and most current address of the birth parent or parents be disclosed to the child. If a medical necessity is involved, the adoptive parent of a person under the age of 21 may request the identity and most current address of the birth parent or parents.

However, if the birth parent or parents have indicated that he or she does not wish his or her name disclosed, it will not be disclosed. Further, the adopted child may not request the identity of the birth parents if the relinquishment of the child or consent to adoption was signed before January 1, 1984.

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