Throughout this process, remember that your adoption attorney is there to help, assist, and guide you. He or she should know of all your state’s adoption laws, rules, and regulations. Working with an adoption attorney is a great way to progress through the placement process because of the step-by-step and hands-on help that your adoption attorney should offer. Make use of the resources around you as you explore your options.
Step-by-Step Guidance – Working with an adoption attorney provides you with the guidance of professionals who understand the process, eligibility requirements, and legal proceedings involved. With assistance through every step of the process, you can ensure you take the right steps to meet qualifications, prepare for various interviews or evaluations, and handle the necessary work to finalize an adoption successfully.
Future Focused – Adopting a child is a major life event, and one that will impact the lives of families and children for the foreseeable future. Even when a case is not contested or considered complicated, the process itself can be challenging. Ensuring all issues are promptly and correctly addressed is essential to establishing the legal parent-child relationship you have for the rest of your life, and to avoiding the possibility of complications arising in the future.
They may not provide matching services. You may need to work with another adoption professional, such as an adoption agency, to be matched with a waiting adoptive family. Alternatively, you may need to independently identify an adoptive family that you would like to pursue an adoption plan with. This can potentially limit the number of families you have to choose from. In addition, there are other services your attorney may not be able to provide throughout the adoption process, such as counseling and support. If adoption counseling is offered, it is normally through an unlicensed paralegal with little adoption counseling experience. The attorney also will not usually be able to keep up with post-adoption agreements, such as receiving pictures and letters, whereas adoption agencies often have programs in place to coordinate these services.
Each state makes its own laws in the area of adoption, according to state statute. While some federal laws do apply, practices and policies can vary widely from one state to another or even from one county to the next. To learn about laws specific to your state or jurisdiction, visit the website of the Child Welfare Information Gateway, at http://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/ or contact your county's Department of Children and Youth.
The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) protects the break-up of Native American families through adoption. Every state has its own rules about how to comply with ICWA, and the laws that regulate this are specific and serious. The main thrust of ICWA is that you must ask the biological family about their potential Native American heritage and document their answers. The courts will want proof that this inquiry was made and completed correctly according to the law. This usually involves completing specific, preprinted forms that vary from state to state. If a birth parent has heritage, notice of the adoption must be provided to every band and tribe of eligibility. Identifying and researching the proper person for notice can be laborious and time consuming, especially if you’ve never done it before. An experienced adoption attorney will know which forms must be completed and by whom. She or he will also know where and with whom to file the forms so as to be in compliance with ICWA. The attorney will also know the proper consent documents a birth parent must sign if the child is deemed Native American. The adoption is at risk if ICWA isn’t properly complied with. (See in re Baby Veronica).
You mentioned PA... so Im guessing thats where you are (Im in PA as well). We are adopting a child from foster care and recently went to the lawyer's office. The first step the lawyer told us about the process was to file an "intent to adopt" letter with the court. It was a formal letter that had detailed information about the child, us, bios, etc. Additionally, attached to the letter of intent had to be a copy of our child abuse clearances and a homestudy. Based on how the lawyer walked us through the paperwork, the clearances and homestudy was a must (not just b/c of foster care). He did explain all the law references to us that were in the letter, but I don't have a copy of the intent letter yet that he was filing. (It was a rough draft that we were going over). I really think you will need a lawyer. If you still want to try to do it without one, call the local court and find out what papers you need to submit to request an adoption.
In MO, where I live the legal age of adulthood is 17. Some states it is 17, some 18. If I were you I would check into that. If legal age in your state is 17, I would just wait a few months and do an adult adoption. Then you would not need anyone's consent other than yours, your husband's and your (now adult) daughter. Then you could complete your adoption without stirring up a hornets nest, although if your daughter is interested in meeting her birthparents....this would be the perfect opportunity to make that happen.
Actually from what I gather it is quite easy [sometimes] to adopt and a birthparent never even know. This is particularly true with birth fathers. In our adoption case (with my now adopted son) the absent birth parent was willing to sign and so it was quite easy. I have heard of many cases though in my research down the adoption path where the adoptive parents did searches with the OAG, DMV (as mentioned), used paid internet investigator searches, and even hired PI's then presented the evidence to the court and had the TPR signed. The truth is that none of those routes yield astounding results necessarily. I don't agree that the birth parents (the fathers in particular because these are the ones that it usually happens to) are being treated fairly but it does happen. Hmm, I guess they aren't really being treated badly they are just not being found. Maybe they don't even know? And, of course the cases I'm aware of are dealing primarily with step-adoption because this is what I'm familiar with being that it was my situation. Judges are far more leniant in these cases I imagine because at least one biological parent is present. I don't know for sure but it would be my guess.
Once the child has met these eligibility requirements they will be placed for adoption by their natural parent or parents. Subsequently, the adoptive parent or parents, legal guardian, a licensed child-placing agency, or the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services, Texas adoptions will then go through a number of steps. The steps for a legal adoption in Dallas, Texas generally go as follows: