Tag Archives: Adoption

ADOPTION IN ALABAMA FAQ

ADOPTION IN ALABAMA

 

What is an adoption?

 

How to adopt.

 

Adoption is the legal procedures through which a minor is recognized by law as being the son or daughter of the adopting adult or adults and is having all the rights of inheritance. The adoptee takes the name designated by the petitioner.

 

Who may adopt?

 

Any person who is 19 years of age or older. The adoption code specifically prohibits discrimination in granting adoptions on the basis of marital status or age.

 

You can be adopted?

 

A minor, defined as being a person under the age of 19.

 

What are the steps usually involved in an adoption?

 

The Adoption Process

 

A. Preplacement investigation (may petition the court will go to the Department of Human Resources or license child placing agency.)

B. All necessary consents and/or relinquishments concerning the adoption are obtained.

C. Guardian ad litem is appointed either natural parent of the adoptee is a minor or in case of a contested hearing.

D. Petition the court for authority to pay fees or expenses.

E.. Placement of child with the petitioners.

F. File petition for adoption 30 days after placement.

G. Serve notice or obtain waivers of notice on or from all parties entitled to notice of the adoption.

H. Post placement investigation.

I. Hearings

J. Affidavits of nonpayment

K. Accounting of disbursements

 

What is a preplacement investigation?

 

It is an investigation conducted for the purpose of determining the suitability of each petitioner and the home in which the adoptee will be placed. Investigation will include a criminal background search will focus on any other circumstances relevant to the placement of the adoptee.

 

Is it always necessary to have a preplacement investigation?

Yes, unless the person seeking to adopt is a close relative of the adoptee as listed and 26 – 10 A – 27; 26 – 10 eight – 28 of the code of Alabama.

 

Whose consent to the adoption is required?

 

Adoption consent

 

A. The adoptee if 14 years of age or older and less mentally incapable of giving consent.

B. The adoptee’s mother.

C. The adoptee’s presumed father if he meets the requirements set out in 26 – 10 A – 7C of the code of Alabama.

D. The agency to whom the adoptee has been relinquished which holds permanent custody except that a court may grant an adoption without the agency’s consent when would be in the child’s best interest agencies withholding of consent is unreasonable.

E. The putative father is known; provided that he response within 30 days after receiving notice of the adoption.

 

Can a minor consent to the adoption of his or her child?

 

Yes, however, prior to such consent court must appoint minor parent Guardian ad litem to represent the child’s interest. A minor who is 14 years of age or older can nominate a guardian ad litem to protect his or her interest.

Can a person revoked a consent to adoption executed by him or her due to the fact that at the time the consent was given that the person was a minor?

No, consent to relinquishments executed by parent who is a minor shall not be subject to revocation by reason of such minority.

When, where and what form must consent for relinquishments for adoption be given?

A consent early punishment for adoption may be given at any time. The free birth consent of the mother must be signed or confirm before a probate judge. All other free birth post birth consent for relinquishments must be signed or farm for the probate judge or the floor of the probate court or someone appointed by the agency conducted an investigation or a Notary Public. Consent for relinquishments must be in substantially the same form as provided in the adoption code and must be in writing and signed by the person consenting for relinquishing.

 

When made consent for relinquishments be withdrawn?

A consent for relinquishments may be withdrawn for any reason five days after the birth of the adoptee or five days after signing the consent for release whichever occurs later. The time to withdraw the consent relinquishments can be expanded to 14 Days Court finds that such delay is reasonable under the circumstances in the best interest of the child.

 

Where is a petition for adoption filed?

A petition for adoption may be filed in the probate court of any of the following counties: where the minor resides in the cold for the petitioner resides or is in military service, where the office of the agency or institution having guardianship for custody of the minor child is located.

 

When is a petition for adoption file?

The adoption petition must be filed within 30 days after the minor is placed with the prospective adoption parent(s) for adoption. If the person seeking the adoption the stepparent or relative of the adoptee in the adoptee must reside with petitioner for a year before such petition is filed. If the child is not live with stepparent wealthy for a year, the adoption will perceive in the same manner as all other adoptions unless the court waives the residence requirement.

 

Can I pay the parent of a minor or unborn child for the child?

No! An offer to make such payment as a class a misdemeanor, to receive payment for a person’s consent to an adoption is a class C felony.

 

What expenses I pay?

A person seeking to adopt a child may pay maternity connected medical or hospital and necessary living expenses of the mother preceding birth and during pregnancy and during pregnancy related incapacity as long as such payments are made as an act of charity in such payment is not contingent upon placement of the child for adoption. All fees and expenses, including legal, medical, investigative, or other legitimate professional fees may only be paid with court approval.

 

How confidential is an adoption?

The adoption code is designed to keep an adoption is confidential as possible.

A. Before a final adoption decree was rendered the only people with access to the adoption records are: the petitioner, petitioners attorney; preplacement investigator and any attorney appointed or retained by the minor being adopted. No other person has access to the adoption records unless they obtained a court order after showing good cause to allow them to inspect the records.

B. All adoption hearings are confidential and held in closed court open only to the interested parties and their counsel, except with leave of court.

C. After the final decree of adoption is entered all documents and identifying information pertaining to the adoption are sealed and cannot be obtained by anyone except the adoptee under limited circumstances. (See below).

D. Natural parent (s) may consent in writing under oath disclosure of identifying information to the adoptee when such adoptee reaches the age of 19. The adoptee upon reaching the age of 19 a petition the court for disclosure of identifying information. Such information will not be released to the adoptee the natural parent’s consent unless the court determines it is best after weighing interest of the parties involved.

 

What is the difference between adoption by stepparent or close family member and other adoptions?

There is usually a lot less formality requirements with adoptee is being adopted by stepparent or close family member. Unlike other adoptions, usually no preplacement or post-placement investigation nor counting of costs related to the adoption is required. In order to be exempt from these requirements the adoptee must have lived with petitioner for at least one year.

 

Can grandparents obtain visitation rights to see the adoptee after the adoption?

Ordinarily grandparents have no visitation rights with their grandchildren the natural parents rights had been terminated by adoption. However, at the court’s discretion the court may allow such visitation rights if the child is adopted by a close relative or stepparent provided is in the child’s best interest.

Alabama Adoption Law Summary

Adoption Law Summary

 

A Summary of Adoption Law

 

Consent: If the child is not yet born the birth mother must go before the judge to give her consent. All other pre-birth consents can be submitted before a Notary Public. The net effect of this means the birth father does not have to go before the judge to give his consent to the adoption. He can also deny that he is the father yet the same time give his consent to the adoption. This is called a denial and consent. Here he is saying, I’m not the father but, I will consent to the adoption anyway. It can be an easy way to deal with a reluctant father. Post birth consent must be in writing and signed and notarized.

 

Fees and Cost:. All fees and expenses must be approved by the court prior to payment or be placed in escrow. The court shall approve all reasonable fees and expenses unless they are determined to be unreasonable based upon specific findings of fact. A birth parent must sign an affidavit that he or she has received NO money or other thing of value for giving up a child for adoption.

 

Withdrawal of Consent:. Withdrawal of consent follows a somewhat stepped procedure, meaning that the further from the birth of the child the withdrawal is received by the court the harder it is to overturn the adoption process.

 

First Step:. The consent to adoption can be withdrawn within five days of signing or of the birth which ever comes last. Withdrawal must either be delivered to the court or postmarked within the five day period.

 

Second Step:. The consent may be withdrawn within 14 days after signing or the birth of the child which ever comes last and if the court finds the withdrawal is reasonable under the circumstances and it is in the child’s best interest.

 

Third Step:. The consent may be withdrawn at any time until the final decree upon a showing that it was obtained through fraud, duress, mistake or undue influence.

Fourth Step:. After one year from the date of the final decree, a consent or relinquishment may not be challenged on any ground except when the adoptee was kidnapped.

 

Adoption Procedure and Timeline

 

The petition for adoption should be filed within 30 days after the child is placed. It should be signed and verified by each adoptive parent. After placement with the adoptive parents and filing the court enters an interlocutory order giving the adoptive parents custody. Custody includes the right and obligation to provide care, maintenance, support and medical treatment.

 

The hearing must occur within 90 days of filing if a preplacement investigation has occurred, if not, then within 120 days.

 

Final Decree

 

A final decree after it is entered, cannot be collaterally attacked, except in the case of fraud or kidnapping after entry of the final decree and all possible appeals.

How to Adopt

How to Adopt

 

Open Adoption Versus Closed Adoption

 

I am a birth father and an adoptive father. Perhaps this gives me a unique position on how adoptions work. In my personal and professional life I have been on just about every side of an adoption. As a birth parent I know the joys and tribulations of raising a child from the natural process. I also know the anxiety which comes from an adoption. I personally participated in failed adoptions as an adoptive parent and also participated in the run-up to the adoption process by participating in medical treatments to conceive. Everything was difficult and painful. So, believe me, I know what being in a position of wanting to be a parent and being unable to fulfill that role can mean to finding a sense of completion.

 

As a birth father I know what it means to have the joy of being a parent and being there when your child is born. For that reason I know what special people birth parents are and understand what the difficult decision means to them.

 

Any adoption can be made an open adoption. An open adoption is one where the birth parents have some knowledge of where the the child has been placed. Generally an adoption is a closed affair – meaning that birth parents have no knowledge of where the child has been placed. It is up to the birth parents to require that an adoption is an open adoption. A closed adoption means that the birth parents do not know where the child will be placed.

 

When a couple seeking a child goes to an adoption agency they usually pay a fe to place their name on an adoption list for the purposes of locating a child.These adoptions are usually closed adoptions This means that strict rules of confidentiality are followed. All statutory rules that relate to the typical adoption follow this model. Everything is handled confidentially and neither the birth parents nor the adoptive parents know of each other’s location, existence or particulars. In my experience birth parents typically want to know where their child is going.

 

Let’s face it, adoption is a confusing and difficult process and contains many pitfalls along the way. Ultimately, it is my belief that the law has a balanced approach to forming a family in this rather unique way. It balances the interests of the birth parents for support and the desire of the adoptive parents to provide support. It also protects the birth mother by giving her the ability to renounce or consent in the legal ways provided under the law. None of the legal protections are done away with in an open adoption. The net effect is that the law protects all parties to the adoption process. None of these protections are compromised by the open adoption process. The real benefit is that all parties to an adoption have some sense of compassion and humanness toward each other for the best interest of the child. It is a beautiful thing to experience adults functioning in this way. It does make the process easier and in some sense more natural.

 

Many people initially are apprehensive of the prospect of an open adoption, but what does an open adoption mean?

 

In my experience the open adoption meets the expectations of the birth mother in a way that closed adoptions do not. Meeting these expectations may go a long way in helping the birth mother make the decision to go forward with an adoption. In an open adoption the birth mother may place the child where she wants and with whom. The court will still direct a home study and the parties can exchange whatever information they find necessary to be comfortable with the process. The court will still direct and control the adoption according to the adoption statutes.

 

How does it work?

 

When a birth mother contacts me regarding an adoption I make an attempt to find suitable adoptive parents. I normally keep the list in my office of couples who want to adopt. I do not charge a fee for keeping those names on file. Some lawyers do. The more people that are interested in adopting a child the easier it is for the birth mother to make a decision. In an open adoption the birth mother has the opportunity to select the adoptive parents from those that may have provided me with their names and other information. I believe that the ultimate choice for placement should be the birth mother’s and that she should be able to know where her child or children ar going to be.

 

 

I have had several open adoptions take place where the adoptive mother is actually in the birth room with the birth mother. In those instances the birth mother wanted the adoptive mother to bond with the child at the earliest possible moment. Meanwhile the adoptive father was in the waiting room with the birth father. Again this appears to be a very natural way for adults to deal with a difficult process. This is probably the biggest gain that comes from an open adoption. It is the sense that everyone is functioning for the best interest of the child. It also increases the prospect that adoption will be completed.

But make no mistake about an open adoption. Adoptive parents want a child to be part of their family. They do not wish to have the birth parents engage in raising the child they seek to adopt. How open the adoption process is up to the adults involved. I make it explicitly clear in the process of an open adoption. That being said, birth parents usually desire to receive occasional photos of the child but they do not engage in ongoing correspondence or continue contact with the adoptive parents after the adoption process is complete. But having a child and providing those pictures can be a small trade-off for actually having the child as your own. In effect, being adopted will only prove you can buy what a nickel buys, that is if you have a nickel. In other words, being adopted does not mean you have to feel adopted or less loved. For my part, there is no difference for the love of a child in the adoptive parents heart or that of a natural parent. I am both. You still feel you love your child no matter what side of the adoption process you are on.

Birth parents love their children enough to sacrifice their heart and themselves for that love. Adoptive parents love their children enough to sacrifice their heart and themselves for that love. That is why I do what I do. It is one of the most meaningful things that I do as a lawyer.

 

So what kind of support can the adoptive parents be called upon to provide? The adoptive parents can provide maintenance and support to the birth mother in any amount that the court approves. But the limits of the support must be approved by the court. These payments must be reasonable in their nature. The court will review the payments prior to anyone making them. It will be reduced to writing and must be reasonably related to the care and welfare of the birth mother. It can include rent, food, and education. I can discuss the safeguards that the law provides.

 

The point is no one can change the law. The court is at the crossroads of adoption. It remains there to safeguard the rights of all.

 

If you believe you would consider an open adoption either as a birth mother or as an adoptive couple do not hesitate to contact me.