Adoption Adoption is a legal process by which a new parent-child relationship is formed. The laws of adoption vary widely from state to state, and procedures for adopting internationally vary from country to country, based on the country of the child’s birth. Whatever type of adoption you are interested in, you need to hire an adoption attorney as soon as possible to help guide you through this process. Through adoption, a parent other than the birth parent becomes legally responsible for a child’s physical, materia, and emotional well-being. Adoption has changed dramatically over the past ten years. It has become a positive way to form a family and no longer kept a secret. Adoption law is a state law. All 50 states have statutory laws which govern adoption. Each state’s laws on adoption apply in particular to adoptions that occur within its boundaries. Adoption attorneys can help adoptive parents find a birth mother, arrange for the adoption process to begin and finalize the adoption with the court. Adoption attorneys are experts in understanding complex adoption laws. Your attorney will explain the rights and responsibilities associated with adoption, review finances with you so as to make the most of the adoption assistance available as well as review adoption agency contracts for validity and fairness. We, the attorneys at Mooney & Associates, will advocate on your behalf at every stage of the adoption process from the initial inquiries to the final court approval. There are many types of adoption. The most common distinction in types of adoptions is between domestic and international. Domestic adoptions are adoptions by United States citizens of U.S. born children. International adoptions are adoptions by United States citizens of children born in another country. Within these categories are a number of other distinctions. The domestic adoption of an infant is usually accomplished by the pairing of birth parents with adoptive parents. The adoption attorneys work with both parents and adoptive parents to help facilitate such a match. Adoption of older children usually takes place through the state or county foster care system. These children are placed in foster care because they have been orphaned or because their parent’s parental rights have been terminated after a finding of abuse or neglect. Most international adoptions are closed, meaning that the birth parents have no contact with the adopted child or his or her adoptive parents after the adoption takes place. The trend in domestic adoptions is towards open adoptions, where the birth parents retain some level of contact with the adoptive family. Stepchild adoptions are unlike traditional adoptions in that the parent and child have already become matched by other circumstances. A person who marries into a family with children may choose to retain the stepparent-stepchild relationship, or may want to take the step towards adopting their spouse’s biological children. Sometimes a grandparent, aunt, or uncle will adopt a child whose biological mother or father can no longer raise the child. Many people opt to adopt independently without the use of an agency but with the help of an adoption attorney. Close to half of the domestic adoptions in the United States are independent adoptions through attorneys. An advantage to an adoption attorney is that you have more input into the process. By the process of an independent adoption, your attorney searches for a birth mother and screens prospective birth mothers for you. The attorney also facilitates all of the legal procedures necessary to complete your adoption. Whichever type of adoption you are interested in, you will need an attorney who is experienced in all aspects of adoption. In addition to an adoption attorney, you will also need a social worker to prepare a “home study” for you. Adoption laws require that the adoptive parents undergo a basic investigation. The social worker will investigate criminal history, ask the parents to have medical examinations done, visit the home to make sure that it is equipped for the child, require adoptive parent training and counseling, and review the parents finances to assure that they can financially handle a new member of their family. Adoptive parents must be at least 18 years old,and generally not over 50 years old, although that age limit is often relevant only in other countries. Single people may adopt. People with relatively moderate incomes may adopt as long as they can show that they are financially fit to raise the child. Steady employment is required. Some foreign countries require adoptive parents to be in good health. Adoptive parents must not have serious criminal records or a history of drug or alcohol abuse. Some private agencies have requirements regarding religion, fertility status, or educational backgrounds. The attorneys at Mooney & Associates, Attorneys at Law, can give you guidance in determining your qualifications to become an adoptive parent.