Welcoming a child into your family doesn’t always involve a trip to the delivery room or any traditional aspects of giving birth. Sometimes it requires thorough research, assistance from a lawyer, and visits from adoption officials. A domestic adoption is an option that thousands of aspiring parents in the United States pursue every year. Before you decide to adopt from inside U.S. borders, there is some information you should know.
Adoptions can be open or closed. Open adoption allows for communication between adoptive and biological parents. In some jurisdictions, the biological and adoptive parents may enter into legally enforceable agreements in the adoption process. It is wise to have assistance from a lawyer when preparing these contracts. Closed, confidential, or secret adoption, involves the sealing all identifying information between the sets of parents.
Adoptions can occur between related or unrelated people. A common example is a stepparent adoption of a child from a spouse’s previous relationship. Common law adoption permits parents to leave children with friends or relatives for extended periods, after which some courts recognize the voluntary cohabitation as binding. The State of California may recognize such common law adoptions after two years. In these situations, assistance from a knowledgeable lawyer is a good idea.
In private domestic adoptions, charities and businesses act as intermediaries between prospective adoptive parents and families who want to place children. Private domestic adoption accounts for a significant portion of all adoptions; the United States Department of Health & Human Services estimates that nearly 45% of adoptions in the U.S. are private.
Not every adoption has a storybook ending. The processes of terminating adoptions are called disruption and dissolution. Disruption takes place before an adoption is finalized, while dissolution takes place afterward. Studies by the Child Welfare Information Gateway suggest that between 10 to 25% of adoptions disrupt, and 1 to 10% dissolve. Adoptive parents initiate these processes through court petitions that resemble divorce. In these types of situations, it is a good idea to seek help from a lawyer who is familiar with these less-than-fortunate placements.
Importance of Identity
As an aspiring adoptive parent, it is important to realize that many adopted children experience difficulty in establishing their sense of identity. Identity takes form in early childhood, and family relationships are important to its development and outcome. By the time children start school, they ask questions about who they are, where they belong, and how they fit into the family. These questions can be complicated for adopted children. During these conversations, it can be beneficial to have the help of a therapist who understands family dynamics and the emotional needs of your child.
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