Mr. Dreiling has assited several clients in adding to their family through adoption. Below are some brief comments concerning the adoption process.
There are several forms an adoption can take.
Agency adoptions involve the placement of a child with adoptive parents by a public agency, or by a private agency licensed or regulated by the state. Children placed through private agencies are usually brought to the agency by a parent or parents who have or are expecting a child they want to give up for adoption.
In a private, or independent, adoption, no agency is involved in the adoption. Some independent adoptions involve a direct arrangement between the birth parents and the adoptive parents, while others use an intermediary such as an attorney
An “open adoption” is an independent adoption in which the adoptive parents and birth parents have contact during the gestation period and the new parents agree to maintain some contact with the birth parents after the adoption, through letters, photos, or in-person visits.
An identified, or designated, adoption is one in which the adopting parents and the birth mother find each other and then ask an adoption agency to take over the rest of the adoption process. The process is a hybrid of an independent and an agency adoption.
In an international adoption, the new parents adopt a child who is a citizen of a foreign country. In addition to satisfying the adoption requirements of both the foreign country and the parents’ home state in the U.S., the parents must obtain an immigrant visa for the child through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS, formerly called the INS). The child will be granted U.S. citizenship automatically upon entering the United States.
In a stepparent adoption, a parent’s new spouse adopts a child the parent had with a previous partner. Stepparent adoption can be quite simple, especially if the child’s other birth parent consents to the adoption.
Relative (Kinship) Adoptions
In a relative adoption, also called a kinship adoption, a member of the child’s family steps forward to adopt. Grandparents often adopt their grandchildren if the parents die while the children are minors, or if the parents are unable to take care of the children for other reasons, like substance abuse or incarceration.
Consent to Adoption
For any adoption to be legal, the birth parents must consent to the adoption (unless their parental rights have been legally terminated for some other reason, such as unfitness). Kansas requires that 12 hours must elapse from the time of birth until the birth mother may consent to the adoption.
This means that birth parents can legally change their minds about adoption at any point before the birth of the child, because they haven’t yet given their consent to the adoption.
Kansas then requires a waiting period of thirty days before the adoption decree can be entered.
Investigation of Adoptive Parents: The Home Study
Kansas and Missouri require adoptive parents to undergo an investigation to make sure that they are fit to raise a child. This investigation is called a home study. Typically, the study is conducted by a state agency or a licensed social worker who examines the adoptive parents’ home life and prepares a report that the court will review before allowing the adoption to take place. The social worker makes a recommendation about whether the adoption should be approved, but a court always makes the final decision.
The social worker will commonly ask about a number of areas considered important to the adoptive parents’ ability to raise a child:
physical and mental health, and
The social worker can also be a very valuable source of information on how to raise an adopted child, what specific issues may arise, etc.
All adoptions, whether handled by an agency or done independently, must be approved by a court. The adoptive parents must file an adoption petition with the court and go through an adoption hearing.
Before the adoption hearing, anyone who is required to consent to the adoption must receive notice. Usually this includes the biological parents, the adoption agency, the child’s legal representative if a court has appointed one and the child himself if he is old enough
A standard adoption petition will generally include this basic information:
the names, ages, and residence address of the adoptive parents
the name, age, and legal parentage of the child to be adopted
the relationship between the adoptive parents and the child to be adopted, such as blood relative or stepparent
the legal reason that the birthparents’ rights are being terminated (the reason usually being that they consented to the termination)
a statement that the adoptive parents are the appropriate people to adopt the child, and
a statement that the adoption is in the child’s best interests.
The written consents of the birthparents or the court order terminating their parental rights may be filed along with the petition. Adoptive parents also often include a request for an official name change for the child.
Adoption Hearing and Order
At the adoption hearing, if the court determines that the adoption is in the child’s best interest, the judge will issue an order approving and finalizing the adoption. This order, often called a final decree of adoption, legalizes the new parent-child relationship, and usually changes the child’s name to the name the adoptive parents have chosen.