What is Adoption?

Even the happiest family dreams, like expanding your family through adoption, may have a few legal i’s to dot and t’s to cross before they can become a reality. And as every family is different, each adoption may present its own set of legal hurdles to clear. The adoption process can be emotionally and legally complex, so it’s best to understand how adoption works beforehand so you can make the right decisions for yourself or your family.

If you’ve made the decision to adopt, the next step is figuring out the logistics. First, every state requires a home study process: a series of interviews and home visits intended to evaluate the suitability or the adoptive parent or family, educate and prepare prospective parent(s), and appropriately place adoptees in the proper environment. Once you’ve been cleared to adopt, the next step is locating a child who’s available for adoption. While licensed adoption agencies may be your best source of adoption information, you can also consult with friends, relatives, or doctors, or volunteer to be a foster parent through a charity or government organization.

Once the decision has been made to adopt there are the adoption court procedures that must be fulfilled.

All adoptions must be handled and approved by an adoption court to provide proper notice for all parties and ensure that all the legal requirements are met. In just about every adoption court proceeding, the court judge will follow the “best interests of the child” standard when deciding whether to approve the adoption.

Your needs and abilities as an adoptive parent will, to some extent determine who you will adopt, which will also affect what type of adoption you’ll choose. While agency adoptions are the norm, you may also have the option of an independent adoption which has its own advantages and disadvantages. The same is true for international adoptions, which can carry added regulations and restrictions, and open adoptions, wherein adoptive parents meet and possibly stay in touch with birth parents. Determining which type of adoption is right for you should be a careful and well-considered process.

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