Adoption can be a beautiful way to create a family. Adoptions in Delaware occur in three primary ways:
- Step Parent Adoptions
- Adoptions from Foster Care
A birth parent may decide that it is in the child’s best interest to be raised by another parent or parents. This is a voluntary process that can be accomplished through either an open or a confidential adoption. Whichever route the parties mutually agree upon, it will involve the termination of the parental rights of the birth parents while also creating a new legal relationship between the child, the adoptive parents, and their extended families.
All adoptive parent(s) of a minor child must have a home study. If the adoptive parent(s) reside in another state, the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children provides a means for assuring birth parents that their child is going to a safe, secure home.
Working with an attorney throughout the adoption process, which can sometimes be legally complicated, helps protect your growing family from unnecessary turmoil and stress and protects the well-being of the child being adopted. Our services in this area include helping to provide appropriate notice to the other birth parent and referring clients to an appropriate agency for the home study, in addition to completing the necessary pleadings for filing with Family Court.
Open adoptions occur when the birth parents and the adoptive parents know or get to know one another. Sometimes birth parents identify the parents they wish to adopt their child. They may be family, friends, acquaintances, or selected from parent(s) who have registered with an adoption agency. In open adoptions, agreements can be made between the birth parents and adoptive parents to provide updates about milestones in the child’s life, annual cards and pictures, or any other variety of options acceptable to both sets of parents.
Our law firm can assist adoptive parents and birth parents in navigating the system and creating agreements that will ensure the best interest of the child.
Step Parent Adoptions
On multiple occasions, we have helped a parent’s new spouse to adopt his or her step-child. The other birth parent (i.e., the parent who is not married to the petitioning party) may consent to the termination of parental rights. Consent from the non-petitioning parent invariably makes the process easier.
If the non-petitioning parent opposes the adoption, does not consent (e.g., simply does not respond) to the adoption, or cannot be found, his or her rights must be involuntarily terminated before the adoption can proceed. Whatever the circumstances, proper notice must be given to the non-petitioning parent.
In adversarial terminations (when a parent opposes the termination), the non-petitioning parent may appear to contest the termination of his or her rights. The Court must then hear evidence and rule in the best interest of the child. Having an attorney to help navigate these turbulent waters is crucial.
Our law firm will counsel and guide you through this process, always keeping the best interest of the child in the forefront.
Adoption From Foster Care
At times, children who have been in the legal custody of the Division of Family Services, are adopted from foster homes. Children in foster homes may have been neglected or abused in their birth home prompting the Division to petition for custody and placement in a foster home. Families that host foster children must attend training to become foster parents. That process, along with the bond they create with the child, often make them excellent adoptive parents.
Adoption from foster care may prove less expensive than working with an adoption agency, but it still requires a home study. Financial assistance after adoption may be available to parents who adopt a child with special needs or who is otherwise hard to place.
As with any adoption, the process involves terminating the legal rights of the birth parent(s) and may include an agreement to provide updates about milestones in the child’s life, or annual cards and pictures. Our firm will guide adoptive foster parents through the process so they can create a lasting, loving, and legal parental relationship with the foster child.
Some parents adopt a child from outside the U.S. We can help clients register their foreign adoption decree in Delaware in order to obtain legal recognition as parents.
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