Adopting a child can be a long process that, at times, can be difficult to navigate. We have experience helping clients secure adoptions for all types of situations, including agency, private, intrafamily and foster care adoptions. On Point Legal can help this process go as smoothly as possible so that you can start enjoying life with your new family.
The word adoption encompasses different kinds of adoption, intrafamily adoptions, sometimes referred to as stepparent/grandparent adoptions, agency adoptions, private adoptions and foster care adoptions. All adoptions share the same goal, but each type has specific legal procedures and requirements that families must meet. Not all attorneys understand these very nuanced adoption laws; that’s why it’s important to have an attorney that specializes in adoption law.
In the end, our heart is for these children to have the best possible life experiences so that they will be healthy, happy, productive citizens, made possible because they understood deeply that they are loved by both their biological family and their adoptive family.
Adoptive Parent Resources
Get the information you need about adoption. See our most frequently asked questions and additional resources below.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
In general, you should expect technical competence, practical forethought and personal service. The exact services you will receive depend on your specific situation. In every case, we will always explain the process to you in detail – so that you understand, and we will make ourselves available for any questions or concerns you have along the way. We will also prepare you for different issues that may arise along the way. We will handle all the paperwork necessary to finalize your adoption, including terminating the birth parents’ rights.
This is a difficult question to answer because every adoption is so different. There are certain expenses that are usually associated with private adoptions, but the amounts vary, these expenses include: our attorney fees, court costs, court filing fees, pre-surrender or birth parent counselor expenses, your home study and post placement report fees and birth parent attorney expenses. Other adoption fees may include legally allowed birth mother living expenses, medical expenses, adoptive family travel and lodging, and third party consultation fees.
The range is wide – anywhere from $10,000 to $60,000, legal complexity, whether the father cooperates, human complications and drama can also increase the adoption’s total cost. Adoptive Parents Magazine usually publishes an annual report about this research. The 2016 report can be found here.
After we meet and discuss your circumstances, we will put together a proposal for fees and a payment plan. Depending on your circumstances, the proposal may be an hourly estimate for each stage of the adoption, a “fixed” fee plus cost, or a combination. You will get to see the proposal and have input finalizing the proposal. Most often, you are required to pay a deposit before we begin work. Invoices may be sent to you monthly or at intervals that meet your budget.
This is such an important issue to us. Sadly, being taken advantage of is a real risk. Our team will help protect you and itself from a parent’s fraudulent behavior by:
- Conducting on-going “risk assessments”, beginning with a birth parent(s) initial interview, research of their online clerk of court records and social media pages;
- Being vigilant and being able and willing to corroborate information we receive, including proof of pregnancy;
- Sensing risky signs (“red flags”), calling a meeting and bringing it to your immediate attention, then making a decision about what to do;
- Not creating or indulging in a birth parent’s unreasonable expectations– being compassionate but realistic.
- Following the law, which assigns management of any financial donations to a mother to the attorney and adhering to the letter and spirit of the law.
- Being able to consult peers and other professionals for good advice in tough situations;
- Being willing to say no to a parent if a request or a pattern of behavior is not legal or reasonable.
It’s a written report drafted by a licensed professional (most often an LCSW). They will collect a lot of background information about the adoptive family through interviews, requests for criminal histories, abuse & neglect histories, and references. The professional will also include his or her own personal evaluation and instincts. The standard is whether this potential home will be a safe and healthy one for the child, not whether the family is perfect in every way. The report is not meant to arbitrarily disqualify people who want to adopt.
They usually cost about $1,500.00. They are not required for intrafamily adoptions.
You will need to make an appointment with someone knows the process and how to draft the report. We will be happy to supply you with referrals from trusted colleagues from all over the country and right here in Louisiana.
We define “open adoption” like this– anything that is not closed! Seriously, a closed adoption is where the parents and adoptive parents agree not to have any future contact and do not know much about one another. An open adoption is everything else! It could mean limited contact, like periodic cards, pictures, letters, etc. to a lot of contact throughout the year at school functions, holidays, birthday parties. What is acceptable depends on the people involved and what each wants and is comfortable with. On Point Legal will work with you and the birth parents to determine what is best for everyone.
Financial and emotional. Adoption comes with great responsibility and risk, but it can also be a great reward. If the birth mother changes her mind and decides not to place the baby with you, you may not receive reimbursement of the funds donated to the birth mother. The emotional risk is also that the birth mother may change her mind. Adoptive families often form a bond with birth mothers and enjoy the idea of future contact.
The amount of time you have to wait before being matched can vary. It can take about three to six months to have complete home study. But once you are matched, and the child is born – you have to wait at least one year from the date the child is placed with you before we can file with the court asking to finalize the adoption. This is due to a legally required waiting period that is part of the vetting process to help ensure the placement is healthy. When a child is closely related to the adoptive parent (or an intrafamily adoption), the waiting period is at least six months. When the child is not related to the adoptive parents (or a private adoption), the period is twelve months. We are part of a group of legal professionals who are reexamining whether the period lengths are still appropriate but for now, this is the law.
The birth mother gets 1st Dibs. As the then-legal parent, she has the right to choose her child’s first and middle name. She may also defer to the adoptive parents and allow them to choose the child’s first and middle name or the parents can mutually agree on a name. The child’s last name is required to be mother’s maiden name, if she is not married, or the name of the father, if she is married or agrees to have the father claim his paternity and add his name to the birth certificate.
The child’s legal name will be the name that is on the child’s birth certificate. The child’s legal name will be changed in some way after the adoption is granted and an amended birth certificate is issued. If the adoptive family chose the child’s name at birth, only the last name will change on the amended birth certificate. If the birth mother named the child at birth, the adoptive family may change the his or her full name when the adoption is granted.
Unfortunately, adoption plans do fail from time to time. The birth mother can change her mind before or the after birth of the child. After birth, the mother has to wait five days before she can sign her surrender. The surrender will be irrevocable after she signs it.
From our experience adoption plans fail because the father or a family member promises to help her rear and support the child; the mother believes that the child will help her stay connected to or in a relationship the child’s father; or often, mothers fear they will be forgotten or that they will regret their decision.
Todd’s unscientific statistics are that on average, 20% of mothers decide to parent.
Generally, no, though we understand the hurt emotions for those who may feel like they want to. Only in very egregious circumstances, like cases of fraud, may legal action be considered. OPL has been faced with these decisions before and has taken legal action in two incidents. We try to avoid these kinds of situations at all cost.
We will prepare a letter for you explaining that an adoption plan has been made and the birth mother signed a surrender transferring custody to their insured (You). You will give the letter to your insurance company. Occasionally, the insurance company will require a copy of a court order, if that is the case, the Court will sign an Order approving the surrender – thereby legally recognizing the transfer of custody. It will take a few weeks to get this Order back from the Court, but we can submit that to the insurance company as well.
The birth mother may apply for the child’s SSN at the hospital. If she does apply for it, the card will be mailed to the address she discloses on the application. However, she is not compelled to do it and occasionally, she does not. If the birth mother does not apply for it, the adoptive parents will be able to apply for a new SSN for the child after the adoption is granted. In the meantime, they could apply for and receive a temporary number for the child from the IRS for taxes just while the adoption is pending.
Our team will prepare paperwork necessary for the adoptive parents to bring the child back to their home state, this will be referred to as ICPC paperwork. Once both states approve the placement, the adoptive parents can bring the child to their home state. Many of the adoptive families choose to finalize the adoption in Louisiana, but it is not required. The birth certificate must be revised or amended by the state in which the child was born but the application for the SSN will not be affected.
The answer really depends on which court and which judge is overseeing the case. The judge’s style and protocols vary so much. However, it will include a presentation of some kind with a question and answer period. OPL has successfully appeared in more than thirty district courts over the last twenty-two years and can set reasonable expectations for the client.
Adoptive families can offset the expense of adoption by claiming the Adoption Tax Credit. Currently, the maximum adoption credit and exclusion is $13,570 per child. The amount changes each year to adjust for inflation. The credit is available for families that fall below a certain income amount.
When a child is adopted by a stepparent, grandparent or other relative it is considered an Intrafamily Adoption; it is sometimes referred to as grandparent adoption, stepparent adoption or kinship adoption. These adoptions are different from Private Adoptions because there is only a six month waiting period before finalizing and the adoptive family is not required to have a home study.
Yes, but the child’s other parent’s rights must be terminated first. After the adoption is finalized, the other parent no longer has any rights or responsibilities for the child, including child support.
Yes, but the child’s biological parents’ rights must be terminated first. Termination is often the most difficult part of the process. After the adoption is finalized, the biological parents no longer have any rights or responsibilities for the child, including child support.
In Louisiana, a child must be in the home with the family member wishing to adopt the child for at least six months before we can file to finalize the adoption.
The cost for this kind of adoption depends on the level of cooperation from the biological parents. If the parents refuse to sign a consent to the adoption, there will likely be a termination hearing which requires customary trial preparation, such as gathering evidence and locating witnesses.