Deciding to adopt a child can be one of the most rewarding and joyous experiences. Although adoption comes with new opportunities and happiness, it is not something that should be taken lightly. Bringing a child into your home is a serious decision that can be a long, strenuous, and complicated process.
The first step in becoming a child’s new parent is to make sure that the rights of the child’s birthparents have been terminated.
The Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) is a legal process that will involve a petition and then a court hearing. A judge will hear the claim, and will ultimately issue a decree to permanently end the birthparents’ rights. This step is essential, as it must occur before the child can be legally considered free to adopt.
TPR can either be voluntary or involuntary, and birthparents may appeal an involuntary TPR claim. The involuntary TPR may occur for any of the following reasons:
• Severe or chronic abuse or neglect
• Sexual abuse
• Abuse or neglect of other children in the household
• Long-term mental illness
• Long-term alcohol or drug abuse
• Failure to support or maintain contact with the child
• Involuntary TPR of another child
• Certain felony convictions
• Imprisonment for a length of time
There is a legal risk that comes with adopting children who have yet to go through the TPR process. High risk adoptions include, the adoption of newborn infants, as a family member or birthparent may decide to become the legal parent before the TRP claim can be brought in front of a judge. Also, there is a time period where birthparents may decide to change their mind on adoption. The birthparent can revoke consent and the child will be placed back into the care of the birthparent. Low risk adoptions include adopting a child before the TPR, but it is expected that the rights will be terminated very soon, and there is a small likelihood that the child will return to the care of the birthparent.
If you are thinking of adopting, you will need to make sure you have the consent of adoption by referring to either of these three legal documents:
1. A legal document with the birthparents’ intention to relinquish any parental rights with their child.
2. A legal document issued by the adoption agency allowing the adoptive family to finalize the adoption. An adoption may not be completed without this consent.
3. A legal document with consent from a child who is fourteen or older, when applicable
Although you will be working with an adoption agency through most of the adopting process, it is important to hire an adoption attorney to prepare and file paperwork with the court and to represent you during the hearing. If you are already involved in a TPR claim, contact an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the process and make sure that your rights and those of your adoptive child are protected. The Law Office of Larry McCord and Associates is skilled and experienced in dealing with all aspects of family law matters. Call (631) 643-3084 for a consultation today.