Adoption - Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about adoption:

  • What happens with a child's birth certificate post-adoption? After a child's adoption is finalized, most state courts issue an order sealing the original birth certificate so that no one will have access to it without the court's permission. A new birth certificate is then issued with the adoptive parents listed as the child's mother and father.
  • Must a child consent to his or her adoption? Most states require older children, usually ages 14 and over, to consent to their own adoption. However, many states allow a judge to waive the child's consent if the child is unfit to give consent or if the court finds that the adoption is in the best interests of the child.
  • How does adopting a child affect the adoptive parents' taxes? Parents who adopted a child, domestically or internationally, and who paid out-of-pocket expenses to do so are entitled to claim an adoption tax credit ($11,650 in 2008). Once a child has been formally adopted, they may be claimed as dependents on income tax returns just like biological children.
  • What rights to adoptive parents have? Once a final decree of adoption is issued, adoptive parents have the same legal rights and responsibilities to their adopted child as they would to a biological child. By the same token, adopted children are entitled to the same laws of inheritance as biological children.
  • Once a child is adopted, can the birth mother take the child back? Once the birth parents have relinquished their parental rights or had their parental rights terminated, and the final adoption decree is issued by a judge, the adoption becomes final and irrevocable. Many states provide a short time period in which the birth parents can revoke their consent to the adoption; in such cases, the adoption becomes irrevocable once that time period expires.
  • How much does adoption cost? Adoptions can vary greatly in cost, ranging from fully-subsidized adoptions via state agencies to more than $30,000 for domestic infant and international adoptions. Fortunately, qualified parents are eligible for an adoption tax credit ($11,650 in 2008), and many states and employers offer additional benefits to assist with adoption costs.
  • How long does adoption take? The amount of time between beginning the adoption process and finalizing and adoption varies greatly depending on what type of adoption you seek. Where adoptions of relatives, step-children, or special needs/waiting children may take only a few months, the adoption of a domestic infant or international child can take several years.

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