Adoptions

Adoptions Adoptions Generally

Adoptions sever the existing legal parent-child relationship to create a new one. In other words, the adopted person’s biological parents (or, in the case of a stepparent adoption – parent) will no longer be recognized as the parents, and the adoptive parents will assume that role. The parental rights of the biological parent(s) are permanently terminated and no longer exist. The easiest way to think about this is that the adopted person (adoptee) can be issued a new birth certificate containing the names of his or her adopted parents rather than the names of his or her biological parents. Once parental rights are terminated, the biological parents to an adopted child no longer have any absolute right to custody of the adopted person, visitation with the adopted child, or even to learn any information about the adopted child such as where the child lives, how the child is doing in school, etc.

Types of Adoptions

There are five types of adoptions: 1. Agency Adoptions; 2. Independent Adoptions; 3. International Adoptions; 4. Stepparent Adoptions; and 5. Adult Adoptions.

  1. Agency Adoptions: Agency adoptions in which the proposed adoptive parent(s) work with an agency (adoption agency, Health and Human Services Dept., etc.) to locate and select a child to adopt. The costs to be paid to many of these agencies are often tremendously expensive, and we are occasionally called upon to protect the rights of the people involved in these adoptions and to work to ensure that the parties receive what they have been promised. Call our San Diego Adoption attorneys today if you need help with your Agency adoption!

  2. Independent Adoptions: Independent adoptions in which the person or couple seeking to adopt typically have already found a child they seek to adopt, and the biological parents are in agreement with the adoption. Despite the agreement of the biological parents, an independent adoption is often very difficult, complex, and fraught with potential problems which can destroy the process. Our Adoption attorneys can shepherd the adopting parents through this entire process and ensure every step is taken correctly. We have even been brought in after the process has started – when the independent adoption is already in peril – in order to respond to issues and see the adoption through to its completion. If you or someone you know is going through this process, contacting our Adoption attorneys may be the best step one can take to ensure that the adoption concludes as it should.

  3. International Adoptions: International adoptions wherein the proposed adoptee (child to be adopted) resides in a country other than the United States. This type of adoption necessitates the authorization to adopt by both countries, and also that various immigration requirements are met. For persons desiring an international adoption, we will typically refer you out to one of our trusted colleagues who specialize in these types of cases. We believe – and always have – that the person calling us on the phone, emailing us, or walking in our front door deserves the very best representation, and when we don’t focus on a particular legal area – as here – we will send you to someone we trust who does. This does nothing for our bottom-line, but is a reflection of our guiding principle to always serve people and to serve them well.

  4. Stepparent Adoptions: Stepparent adoptions are those in which a stepparent (usually a stepfather but certainly not always) seeks to adopt his or her stepchild. In these situations, parental rights would be terminated for the absentee parent and replaced by the stepparent, while the parental rights of the biological parent married to the stepparent would remain intact. In these adoption matters, there are two cases which proceed at the same time: a petition to terminate the parent’s rights or a petition for freedom from parental custody and control, as well as a petition to adopt. Much like the other types of adoptions, stepparent adoptions are complicated. Specific requirements must be satisfied (e.g., that the parent whose rights are to be terminated has failed to visit and/or to pay support) in order to successfully accomplish the termination of the absentee parent’s rights, and then to finalize the adoption by the requesting stepparent. In addition, the parent whose parental rights are at stake can oppose (or fight against) the stepparent adoption, and can even receive a free lawyer to do so (while the stepparent requesting the adoption is not eligible to receive any free or low-cost attorney). Whether you need an attorney to ensure that the adoption process is completed smoothly, or whether you are preparing for a war with the parent whose rights you seek to terminate, you should call our San Diego Adoption attorneys today. We will provide you with a free consultation to analyze and assess your case, answer your questions, and put you in the best position to accomplish your goal.

  5. Adult Adoptions: Adult adoptions in which an adult (person above the age of 18) wishes to be adopted by a non-relative person or persons at least 10 years older than the proposed adoptee. Here at Tot Law, we assist with all issues in an Adult adoptions, and can see the process through from start to finish. Call today for a free consultation and case assessment!

Adoptions vs. Guardianship

In legal guardianships, parental rights remain intact such that the biological parents will receive rights to visitation, and can return to court to modify or even terminate the guardianship. Differently, parental rights are terminated prior to an adoption so that the biological parents do not have any rights to custody, visitation, or anything else regarding the child ever again. As a result of the permanent nature of adoptions, the process for obtaining guardianship has fewer requirements and is less complicated than the process of adopting a child. All situations are different, and Tot Law’s Adoption attorneys are happy to discuss with you any options you may have regarding a child you love.

Post-Adoption Contact Agreements

Some adoptive parents and biological parents decide to enter into agreements to allow for some type of contact between the biological parents and the adopted children after the adoption occurs. This is done because there is an existing relationship between the parent and child, as part of a settlement to avoid litigation, or for some other reason that makes both parties agree to the contact. These “Post Adoption Contact Agreements” should be considered carefully, and each party should fully understand the rights they are gaining as well as those they are giving up. Tot Law’s Adoption attorneys are extremely well-versed in these agreements, and can help you to determine whether the proposed agreement is something which should or should not be considered.

Contesting (Fighting) an Adoption

For parents, someone else’s adoption of your child may be your worst nightmare coming true. For that reason, a parent must consider (quickly) whether to fight any adoption request, whether to utilize the services of an attorney to do so, and whether to take an interest in that attorney’s qualifications in the field of Adoption Law to give the parent the best possible chance to succeed. Here at Tot Law in San Diego, our Adoption attorneys are seasoned trial lawyers who will fight for you. We know how important this issue is to parents; in fact, there can be no more important one. As a result, our attorneys will do everything in our power to stop the adoption and keep your child as your child. This is the fight of your life, and we are ready for it.

Potential Problems with Adoptions

Adoption Law is extremely technical due to the significant and permanent effects of the adoption, and problems tend to arise from the many procedural and substantive requirements which must be met in these cases. Problems such as incorrect adoption paperwork, failure to serve documents correctly, and the inability to properly present evidence at trial are all common and fatal to any adoption request. If you think you may have these problems (or already do), do not despair – Call us now to receive your free consultation to discuss your situation. We are ready to help!