Adoption

Jennifer M Paine

It is important to consult with an attorney prior to beginning your adoption journey so the different ways you can adopt are fully explained and your questions can be answered particularly about the laws in your State. In general, there are three types of adoptions:

International Adoptions - an international adoption is an adoption of a child born in a foreign country. The adoptive parents obtain a home study in the US state where they reside, file the necessary paperwork with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and sometimes also with the local probate court/adoption agency, and then pursue an adoption in accordance with the laws of the foreign country. Some counties have Hague Convention specific procedures. For non-Hague counties, you must follow that country's specific procedures. These are complicated procedure either way, so adoptive parents almost always have a local attorney, a foreign attorney and an agency to assist.

Domestic Adoption - A domestic agency adoption allows you to adopt through a licensed child-placing agency in the US. Agency adoption is a two-step process. The first step of the adoption is the termination of parental rights which gives the agency guardianship of the child and allows the agency to consent to the adoption. The second step occurs when the agency consents to the adoption and the adoption petition is filed by the adoptive parents to complete the adoption.

Private Adoption - A private, or independent, adoption is not performed by a licensed child placing agency. This type of adoption is a direct placement between the birth mother and the adoptive parent. The state and local laws and procedures will vary.

As you are planning to meet with an attorney for this journey, you should--

Contact an attorney as early as possible in the decision-making process.

Know what the attorney charges and how the fees are structured.

Make sure they are affordable.

Learn about the specific types of adoptions and services the attorney provides.

Ask what percentage of the practice is dedicated to adoption and how many adoption proceedings the attorney has handled.

Ask lots of questions, share your concerns and provide the attorney with all relevant documents.

Choose an attorney who is experienced in the type of adoption you are considering. You can get started with your search on most State Bar websites, including www.michbar.com.