Understanding open and closed adoptions

On behalf of Sparkman Law Firm posted in adoption on Monday, July 18, 2016.

For many Florida residents who are unable to have children biologically, adoption can offer a much-sought-after path to parenthood. Some people who are able to and have even had their own biological children choose to adopt other children out of a desire to help others and grow their families at the same time. Whatever the reason a person pursues adoption, understanding some of the terms is important.

American Adoptions, a national adoption agency, indicates that adoption terms have been evolving in recent years. Historically it was common for birth mothers to have little to no involvement in selecting adoptive families. Similarly, they had little to no contact with their children or the adoptive families past birth. These are referred to as closed adoptions. Some people still opt for these types of adoptions today but they are growing less common.

An alternative to a closed adoption is an open adoption. This is one in which information can be exchanged between birth and adoptive families and some contact may take place throughout a child’s life. People may choose to exchange only information that does not reveal their identities and to only have contact via a third party. These adoptions are sometimes referred to as semi-open. People who choose to participate in fully open adoptions can decide the frequency and type of contact.

If you would like to learn more about the different types of adoptions and which one may be right for your family, please feel free to visit the adopting-a-child page on our Florida family law website.

Understanding international adoptions

On behalf of Sparkman Law Firm posted in adoption on Monday, July 4, 2016.

Many Florida residents who want to start or add to their families look to adoption as one way of doing this. In addition to being able to attempt to adopt a child from Florida or another part of the United States, people may consider adopting children from other countries as well.

As explained by the United States Department of State, an international adoption must meet the laws of the adoptive parents’ state, the United States and the country from which a child is being adopted. If the child is being adopted from a country that is a part to the Hague Convention, additional requirements of that agreement must also be met. The Hague Convention was signed to bring more transparency and protections to international adoptions. Part of these protections include the required accredidation of agencies. Not all countries participate in the Hague Convention, however.

HOLT International, an international adoption agency, indicates that it takes an average of between 24 and 36 months for people to bring home their newly adtopted child from the time they submit their initial application. Many things can affect the timing which may be less or more than this average.

International adoptions must result in children being the legal children and dependents of the parents, just as if the children were physically born to the parents. An international adoption is not a guardianship. Prospective adoptive parents must successfully pass a homestudy, a process whereby a full report of them, their home and their family is prepared in order to determine their eligibility to adopt a child internationally.

Stepparent adoptions in Florida

On behalf of Sparkman Law Firm posted in adoption on Thursday, May 26, 2016.

Are you one of the many Florida residents who is now married but have a child or children from an earlier marriage or relationship? Perhaps you are married to someone who has a child from a prior relationship or marriage. In either of these situations, one spouse may be wishing to formally and legally adopt the biological child of the other.

The adoption of a stepchild can be a beautiful way of loving a spouse as well as a child. It can bring a sense of unity and family to a blended family that offers many benefits to the adults and the children involved. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families, stepparent adoptions are the common type of adoption that takes place in the U.S. today. While the exact process for adopting a stepchild can vary from state to state, there are some elements common across the board.

In general, you can expect the adoption of a stepchild to follow a somewhat simpler process than any other type of adoption. Some requirements such as those for home visits, for example, may be different or waived altogether. What must generally happen is that both biological parents must consent to the adoption. It may be possible to waive this requirement in instances of abandonment or other unique circumstances. Depending upon the age of the child, consent from the child may also be required or appropriate. Once finalized, a new birth certificate will be issued reflecting the new parentage.

If you would like to learn more about the process of adopting a stepchild, please feel free to visit the stepparent-stepchild relationship page of our Arizona family law website.