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William R. Noelker Law

Adoption FAQ's

What is adoption?

Adoption terminates the biological parents' rights and obligations toward their children and assigns them to the adoptive parents. The adoption process differs from state to state. The laws of the state where the parent and child reside control the procedure.

Must the child be a minor to be adopted?

A person may adopt an adult as his/her child, if permitted under the state's law. Besides emotional bonds there may be financial advantages to adopting an adult as a child. For instance, avoiding generation-skipping transfer tax when a person wants to provide the bulk of his/her estate upon death to a friend who is many years younger.

Does a foreign-born child adopted by a U.S. citizen automatically become a U.S. citizen?

A child does not automatically become a US citizen upon his or her adoption. To become a U.S. citizen, it will be necessary to go through the naturalization process.

What is an adoption agency?

An agency may work with biological parents and adoptive parents to help coordinate the adoption and walk the parties through the procedure. Typically, agencies are either run by or supervised by the state.

Must an adoption be handled through an adoption agency?

The biological parents of a child can deal directly with the adoptive parents, in a case such as one in which an adoption occurs among families and friends. Private adoptions can be facilitated by attorneys, doctors or other intermediaries.

How long does it take to adopt?

The time to complete an adoption can vary widely. A step-parent adoption where there is no other parent involved can be quite short because of no necessity for in home studies or probationary periods. Agency adoptions can take more time because of the home study, probationary period, interlocutory order, etc.

Can the natural parent or the adoptive parent change his/her mind after adoption?

Usually there is a waiting period before adoption becomes final. During this waiting period the biological parent may change his/her mind. In most states the time period within which the biological mother can revoke her consent is between 48 to 72 hours after birth. In states that follow the Uniform Adoption Act the biological parent is allowed eight days from birth to revoke consent. In any case, after the waiting period, the adoption becomes final.

What happens to the adoption records?

Once an adoption has been finalized, the adoption records are sealed to maintain anonymity of the natural and adoptive parents. Access is restricted and requires a court order. Records can sometimes be opened in order to obtain medical information. Some states allow adult adoptive children to request that the natural parents be contacted by a third party, in order to determine whether they would consent to allow their natural child to re-establish contact.

Do biological grandparents have any rights after an adoption?

Some states will grant grandparents visitation rights in limited situations, such as an adoption by a stepparent when a biological parent has died.

What are the steps in a typical adoption?

Initially the prospective adopting parents are screened by the adoption agency or a social service investigator. Various documents are prepared and filed, several office interviews take place, and a there is a home visit. A written report is prepared by the investigator and/or agency for the court to review. There may be "probationary" period required for the child to reside with the prospective adoptive parents. Eventually, a hearing is conducted. At that time a judge makes sure the prospective adoptive parents understand the nature of their undertaking, makes specific findings based on the agency's recommendation and confers the rights and obligations of parenting the child onto the prospective parents. Court procedures and local adoption rules vary from state-to-state. Failure to conform to state or local law may result in delays or in the court's outright refusal to allow the adoption or, worse, create grounds to overturn an adoption.

If you or a loved one is in need of legal assistance, call The Law Office of William R. Noelker at 1-859-236-0374 or submit an online questionnaire. The initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to handle your case, we will work on a contingency fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary recovery of funds. In many cases, a lawsuit must be filed before an applicable expiration date, known as a statute of limitations. Please call right away to ensure that you do not waive your right to possible compensation.