Adoption: Laws and Process

Adoption is defined as the legal process where a minor or an adult is recognized through law as being the son or the daughter of adopting adults. The adopted person has all of the legal rights as non-adopted persons, including the right of inheritance. The adopted person will take the name of the adoption petitioners, also known as the adopting parents.

Confidentiality of Private Adoptions

Adoptions are kept as confidential as possible by each state's adoption code. Prior to an adoption being finalized, only a handful of people are allowed to know of the process. Those people include the petitioner, the attorney for the petitioner, the placement investigator and the attorney appointed to the minor being adopted. The only way anyone else can obtain information about the adoption is if an individual receives a court order to investigate the documents.

Adoptions hearings are confidential and private, held in closed court, and only available to the parties involved in the case. Once the final decree of the adoption is rendered, all documents regarding the adoption are sealed, and identifying information cannot be obtained by anyone except the adoptee under certain circumstances. Once the adoptee reaches the age of 19, the natural parents of the adoptee can consent in writing under oath that the identifying information can be made available to the adoptee. Once the adoptee has reached the age of 19, he or she can petition the court for disclosure of the identifying information or contact the Department of Human Resources to see if there is a written consent form on file for the disclosure of the identifying information. This information cannot be legally released to the adoptee without a written consent form or unless the court rules that, the information is in the best interest of the child.

Who Can Adopt a Child?

Anyone aged 19 and older are permitted to adopt another person. The Adoption Code protects people from being discriminated against when it comes to granting adoptions. Adoptions cannot be denied based on age or marital status anywhere in the country. If approved to adopt, individuals may legally adopt anyone of the following persons, including:

  • Any minor child
  • A permanently disabled, mentally retarded, or handicapped adult
  • An adult consenting to adoption by a family member in writing
  • An adult consenting in writing to be adopted by a man and woman who are married

Qualifications to Adopt a Child

A pre-placement investigation occurs when the petitioner is investigated to make sure that the adoptee will be placed in a suitable environment. This investigation will also include a criminal background check of the petitioner and other circumstances that will affect the adoptee when placed in this situation. A pre-placement investigation is always necessary unless the child is being adopted by a stepparent or a close family relative.

Page 2: Adoption Application Process

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