If your path to parenthood involves adoption, A. C. Howard Law will help you understand the different types of adoption and discuss with you the merits of each approach.
What are the different types of adoption?
There are three main avenues to adopting a child.
In an agency (aka foster or county) adoption, the birth parents’ rights are terminated by a court order or a filing of voluntary relinquishment. The agency then becomes the legal guardian of the child until the child is placed in the home of prospective adoptive parents. Most placements last for at least six months before the adoption of the child is final.
In an independent (aka private) adoption, birth parents choose the prospective adoptive parents and place the child directly with them. An adoption service provider (like a private social worker) will counsel the birth parents on the rights they are relinquishing and have them sign a placement agreement. Thirty days after the placement agreement is signed by the birth parents, their consent becomes irrevocable.
In an intercountry (aka outside the United States) adoption, the federal law makes a special immigration visa available to the foreign-born child in care of prospective adoptive parents. Completion of the adoption can take place either in the United States or in the child’s home country. Families are best served by working closely with the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services or with an adoption agency licensed to provide these specialized services. If you are considering an intercountry adoption, we can review the list of countries where adoptions have been stymied by new laws and regulations.
What costs are associated with adoption, and how long does the process take?
Costs vary greatly! If a family works with a private agency, the agency fees range from $5,000 to $20,000, and matches are not guaranteed. If a family works with the county, application fees are usually around $800. In nearly all adoptions, families must be screened by a social worker who acts as the eyes and ears of the judge. The social worker will likely conduct a “home study,” which costs $4,500. Last, if a family elects to work with an attorney to complete their adoption, attorney fees range between $3,000-$9,000. As a general rule of thumb, most adoptions take about one year to finalize because of overwhelmed court calendars and staffing shortages in social services offices.
What exactly is a home study?
Social workers conduct home studies to ensure that the prospective parents can offer a safe home to the child and have the financial resources to care for the child. A home study is almost always required, except in rare cases of international adoptions when the child is already a legal resident of the United States. In the case of stepparent and second-parent adoption, the social worker may not conduct a full home study but may instead interview the family at the social services office to ensure that the second parent will not endanger the child. The fee for a complete home study is $4,500, while a family interview costs $1,500.
If you have specific questions about building your family through adoption, please contact A. C. Howard Law for a free 25-minute consultation. Rest assured that we handle all adoption proceedings with the utmost sensitivity and discretion.