If you have been searching for information online about how to adopt a child, then you probably already can tell just how complex of a process it can be. But don’t get discouraged if you feel overwhelmed. What many prospective parents do when pursuing adoption is getting support from a family law attorney. A family lawyer in Alameda County, CA, like from Bernie Kempen & Company, can give parents information about adoption based on state and federal laws, offer guidance during the application process, help them connect with a reliable adoption agency, and get them legally ready for a new family member.
What are the requirements for adopting?
The requirements to become an adoptive parent vary based on where you live. Each state has established specific requirements. Adoption agencies will likely have their own set of requirements that are expected of parents too. In general, for domestic and international adoptions, adoptive parents have to be of legal age (this may mean 18 or 21 depending on the state). Those who want to adopt directly from a birth mother, must be aware that the biological mother may have a preference for how old the adoptive parents are. Those who prefer an international adoption may have to be below a certain age, depending on the country.
There are probably going to be other requirements for adoption that relate to:
- Whether the adoptive parents can financially support a child
- Whether others who live in the home agree to the adoption
- What family members, friends, and others who are close to the parent(s) say in their references letters
- In-home inspections by the adoption agency
- Whether the parent(s) are of stable health both physically and emotionally to care for a child
- Whether the child has his or her own space that is safe to grow up in
Does a criminal history mean I am not eligible to adopt?
Each parent will have his or her background evaluated prior to adoption. If there is an arrest that shows up, the parent may have to provide more detailed information about the incident and dispositions. Depending on the agency, a person with a criminal background may not be permitted to adopt altogether. Your attorney can answer any questions you have about whether a past incident may show up on a background check and how it may impact your eligibility odds.
What can I expect from a home environment study?
An agency will decide whether a prospective adoptive parent’s home is safe for a child to reside. The requirements of a home environment study may vary based on the state and country. The parent may have to bring forward references of their relationships and interactions with children. During a home study parents may be asked to talk about their parenting plan. Adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to showcase a home that is clean, well-maintained, safe, and comfortable, along with a room or space designated for that child. Your attorney can ensure that the home study is performed by the agency fairly and reasonably.