The Legal Path: Common Principles on Adoption in the U.S.


Adoption is a great option to start a family for couples. The whole process is heavily regulated for the protection of children and parents. Would-be parents benefit immensely from accessing free resources and hiring a family lawyer to aid in the adoption process.

Adoption laws differ in Kent, Joplin, and other cities, but a few principles remain the same throughout different states.

Parental Rights and Responsibilities

When adoptive parents take custody of their children, all responsibilities for the children’s care and well-being rests with them. Biological parents no longer have legal rights and obligations towards their children. Parents have legal obligations to their children until they reach the age of majority, typically 18, unless they have disabilities.

Among the obligations that parents must fulfill are educational needs, such as college, provision for basic necessities, medical care, and financial support.

Necessity for Consent

Biological parents must consent for adoption to take place. Their legal rights may be forfeited involuntarily in cases of chronic abuse or neglect, sexual abuse, abandonment, or long-term mental illness and substance dependency, and incapacity. Children aged 10 to 14, depending on state laws, must also consent to their adoption.

As for intercountry adoptions, U.S. federal law, as well as laws from the adoptive child’s country of origin, and laws of the parent’s U.S. state govern the circumstances of the process. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is in charge of granting the adoptive child’s immigration petition. Adoptive children are classified as being from a country party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption or non-party.

Best Interests of the Child

State agencies typically assess the suitability of adoptive parents as part of the process. Background checks are performed on foster and adoptive parents and kinship caregivers. Federal criminal records, child abuse, and neglect registries are assessed as part of these checks.

hopeful couple for adoption

The checks can take about six weeks or so. Depending on the circumstances, even people with felonies can adopt. These parents will be subject to scrutiny by their social workers and their criminal records will be assessed. Domestic violence, child abuse, and child pornography are automatic grounds for disqualifications.

Confidential Nature of Adoption Proceedings

All procedures in adoptions are private and confidential. Biological and adoptive parents typically do not know each other. The child’s new birth certificate is considered their official file and their original file with their old name will be sealed.

Mutual consent of adoptive and biological parents are required in some states to open adoption records and birth certificates. The only other circumstance in which these records may be opened is judicial procedures that deem opening records for a good cause.

Permanent Nature of Adoption

All adoptions are permanent once the paperwork and judicial requirements are finalized. No adoptive parent can revoke their decision, except in cases of absent fraud or significant procedural irregularity. They have conferred all the legal responsibilities that biological parents are expected to fulfill.

Legal guardianship, meanwhile, is only temporary. Guardians may make their custody of children under their care permanent through adoption. Children who are adopted receive inheritance rights. They are also no longer eligible for child support from their birth parents.

Before considering adoption, parents need to asses if they are ready for the responsibilities attached to child rearing. As a family lawyer might advise parents, stable finances are not enough. Parents must be able to provide a safe, stable environment for their adoptive children. If parents can prove that they can provide these, they are more likely to have the adoption process pull through.

Scroll to Top