At some point in nearly everyone’s life, regardless of age, income, beliefs or status, we consider the idea of starting a family. Many people choose to take the route of adoption to realize this idea and begin a new stage in their lives. Adoption refers to a legal process in which a person or couple assumes the parenting role of a child from another person or couple, thereby acquiring their parenting rights and responsibilities.
In terms of U.S. based adoption, this process takes place within the borders of the U.S. and its territories. Domestic adoption laws within the U.S. vary according to the state of residence for the parents and the child. Thus, parents must qualify to adopt a child according to individual state adoption laws. Depending on the state in which the parents would like to adopt their child, various state adoption laws will consider age, residence, marital status, and other criteria for those involved in the process. Adopting a child takes a considerable amount of knowledge through diligent research as well as a patient attitude since the process will undoubtedly take a prolonged period of time, but for those who are seriously interested in becoming a parent, adoption will be worth the wait.
During any adoption process, future parents are required to complete a homestay, in which a state representative will ensure the eligibility of the parents based on official documentation (marital status, financial background, criminal records, etc.) and the condition of the future household. The main concern of the homestay will be evidence of a stable living environment for the adoptive family. In addition, the rights of the child’s biological parents must be reviewed. Under some state adoption laws, these rights must be terminated before the child can be adopted by the adoptive parents. Moreover, it is likely that the adoptive parents and child will be required to reside together before the adoption becomes official. Naturally, there is also a substantial amount of legal paperwork to complete. The adoption process continues until it is finalized in a family court session in the state of residence where a judge can legalize the adoption with proper documentation.
It is a popular option to find assistance, such as an adoption agency, that can guide future parents throughout the adoption process in a particular state. Of course, individuals may choose to forego an agency’s help and initiate a private adoption process, which will require additional assistance from an attorney who is familiar with adopting a child in a given state. Whether parents plan to use an agency or handle their adoption individually, they will ultimately be utilizing the services of an attorney who is specialized and licensed in the state of residence. As long as both the child and the future parents reside in the same state, the adoption process should take place entirely within that state.
Another aspect of the adoption process is the choice of engaging in an open adoption. Open adoption is a loosely based term since each individual U.S. state has different adoption laws, some of which do not even address open adoption. In a general sense, open adoption is a type of adoption that allows for the sharing of information or communication between biological parents and adoptive parents. As mentioned earlier, some state adoption laws require the parental rights of the biological parents to be terminated and later transferred to the adoptive parents; administering an open adoption does not remove this requirement. Open adoption can, however, allow both sets of parents to remain in contact with each other and the adopted child. The process and extent of an open adoption will vary on a state by state basis.
In regards to an adoption involving a child without legal permanent resident status, it is important to notice that the U.S. is a member of the Hague Adoption Convention, created for the purpose of protecting the interests of children involved in intercountry adoption. For U.S. based adoption, state government adoption officials do not consider the Hague Convention. However, improving immigration benefits for U.S. based adopted children will require extensive process. The reason is that state adoption laws will allow residents in their respective state to go through and complete an adoption process, but those laws are not concerned with immigration implications. Adoption and immigration are two separate issues governed by two different sets of laws (adoption – state; immigration – federal).
Regarding the immigration benefit for the child who is in US and whose adoption process is already completed in US. If the child is from a non-Hague Convention country or the adoptive parent is US permanent resident rather than US citizen, it is for sure that the adoptive parent can file a family-based petition for the child if the child can satisfy the qualification defined in the INA. Please click here for detail. If the child is from a Hague Convention country but not moved to US for the purpose of the adoption, and the adoptive parent is US citizen, it will require even more process, such as receiving a letter for Central Authority of the child’s country or even file action to Federal Court. Please click here for more information.
Future parents will find it very beneficial to educate themselves before the adoption process begins in order to avoid any unexpected pitfalls. Fortunately, there are many resources that aim to provide adoption assistance with the intention of promoting the placement of children in a family environment. We wish you the best in your adoption endeavors.
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