Adoption is an opportunity to expand your family, and there are a variety of ways for prospective parents to adopt. Private adoption is a way to adopt without using an adoption agency. There are varying state laws regarding private adoptions. A family law attorney familiar with private adoptions in your state should be consulted prior to beginning the adoption process.
Private adoption is like any adoption, with pros and cons to consider prior to beginning the adoption process. It allows the adoptive parents to have more control over the adoption process and gain parental rights from the birthparents directly, not from an agency. Private adoption also can allow the birth family to gain more information about the adopted child including their medical, religious, and family histories prior to the adoption. Private adoption may also decrease the amount of time that it takes to locate a child. One of the best things about a private adoption is the child usually is given to the adoptive parents shortly after birth, instead of spending time in a foster home or orphanage (which may occur in an international adoption).
Unfortunately, there are some downsides to consider regarding a private adoption. There could be varying timeframes by state for a birth parent to change his or her mind, which could add to the stress of the adoption. Also, the costs may not be completely fixed and may vary greatly. In addition, you may not have the option to determine the gender of the child prior to adoption.
Costs For Private Adoptions
Private adoption costs are a little more difficult to determine then the more pre-determined costs typically available through an agency. Costs for a private adoption generally range from $10,000 - $15,000, but can be as high as $30,000. The main expenses for the private adoption can include:
- Legal counsel for the birth parents
- Legal counsel for the Adoptive parents
- Costs for a home study
- Travel Costs
- Medical Costs
- All advertising costs to locate the child
There have been tax credits established by the federal government to offset the cost of the adoption. For more information regarding these credits contact the IRS or your family Law Attorney.
Do I need a Family Law Attorney to assist with the adoption?
Private adoption laws can vary by state, so it would be beneficial to get the help from a family law attorney to guide you through the adoption process. In some states family law attorneys can be involved in each phase of the private adoption. In other states an attorney can only help finalize the adoption after the child has been matched to an adoptive family. If this is the case, an experienced attorney can help make sure all documents are filed correctly and court dates are met. An attorney can also help file papers to finalize the adoption process.
An attorney can also help monitor and approve the expenses related to the adoption process. This can be done with a trust account. There are varying state laws regarding costs that can be paid to the birth mother and an attorney should be consulted to review your state's restrictions. It is illegal to pay a birth mother directly for the baby in every state.
How Does The Private Adoption Process Work?
The first step in the adoption process is to locate a child. This can be done in a variety of ways including word of mouth, newspaper advertisements, family members, and internet advertisements. The time it takes to locate a child can vary.
There are varying procedures for each state but there is generally some type of legal approval process for the state to approve the adoption. This includes a review and approval of the adoptive couple through a home study. The home study will be conducted by a social worker and will determine if a proper home environment exists for the child. It will also examine the other existing relationships in the adoptive home. The cost of the home study will vary.
After a child is located it is necessary to receive consent from the birth mother and the birth father. In most states the birth mother can sign a consent form for the adoption within 48-72 hours after the birth of the child. The birth mother may have the option to revoke her consent in a specified period of time. The time she has varies by state and should be discussed with your family law attorney. Revoking her consent generally requires that she can prove that the adoption occurred through fraud or under duress.
The father must also provide consent for the adoption. If the father is unknown the adoption can still occur but the father if found later he may be able to contest the adoption. A family law attorney can advise you on the specified contesting period for your state. Getting the consent from both parents is very important. Recent cases highlight that if the biological father does not consent and later contests the adoption the courts have generally been preferential to the biological father not the adoptive parents or child.
After the birth of the child and the state has completed its approval process of the adoptive parents, legal custody will go directly to the adoptive parents. At this point your attorney will work with the court system to complete the transfer of parental rights.
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