Congratulations! You’ve made the decision to adopt a child. While it is exciting to think about welcoming a new life into your home, you need to be aware that this is just the beginning of what can be a long, arduous, and expensive process. Once your child is home, you will know that all the work you did was well worth it, but for now, you need to start with the basics. There are many different types of adoption to consider: open or closed, private or public, and international or domestic, to name a few. Below are some brief explanations of the different types of adoption you will encounter, as well as a basic of idea of what to expect.
Open Vs. Closed Adoption
Open adoptions, which allow the biological parents and adoptive parents to interact, have become the norm in the United States. Many families are receptive to the idea of allowing the biological parents to remain part of the child’s life. Both sets of parents may exchange letters and cards, and may even get together for birthdays and holidays. Sometimes the adoptive parents are permitted to witness the birth of the child they are going to adopt. If, however, the adoptive parents don’t feel comfortable sharing so much time with the biological parents, they may choose to limit their correspondence to mail or phone calls.
In the past, all adoptions were closed adoptions done through an agency, and adoptive parents knew little about their child’s biological family. Now, closed adoptions are rarer, but they do still occur. The parents may know a little bit about each other but they do not keep in touch. Typically, records for closed adoptions are sealed and may not be viewed. In South Carolina, adoptive parents, biological parents, and the adopted person are permitted to access non-identifying information about their adopted child’s family, such as:
- The medical history of the biological parents;
- The medical history of the child;
- The child’s familial background (without identifying names) or geographical history of the child’s family; and
- The period of time the child has been living with the adoptive parents.
Once the adopted child has reached the age of 21, they may be granted access to identifying information about their birth parents and any birth siblings they may have.
Private vs. Public Agency Adoption
Parents can apply for adoption through either a public or private agency. Public agencies are funded by the state and house many children of varying ages who are waiting to be adopted. These children can either be veterans of the agency, spending time with various foster families before returning, or they can be children new to the system. There may also be children with special needs, such as those who were born to a drug-addicted mother and those who have a history of abuse in their family.
Adopting through a public agency is easier and less expensive, but because these agencies have many children and few resources, they are often unable to provide extra help, such as counseling for parents adopting for the first time. Parents looking to adopt infants or babies may seek the help of a private agency, since the public agencies tend to house older children more often than they do babies.
A private agency, as stated above, usually adopts out infants and small babies, and may not even offer adoption for toddlers or older children. These agencies may also set up adoptions between pregnant biological mothers and adoptive families. The cost is exponentially higher at a private organization, but parents looking for a specific child to adopt will have a better chance of getting what they want. A private agency can also offer counseling for both adoptive and biological families, a resource that has been found to help an adoption go much smoother.
Foster to Adopt
Being a foster parent means you take in children who typically need a temporary place to stay that is not their home. Kids are put in foster care when an agency has declared their home or parents are unfit for a myriad of reasons, such as:
- The home is unsafe for people to inhabit;
- The child is not being given proper food, clothing, shelter, or medical care;
- A parent is suffering from mental illness or depression; or
- A parent is addicted to drugs and alcohol.
Foster care is meant to be temporary, but sometimes the agency finds it cannot safely allow the child back into their home, and the child goes to live at an adoption agency. Foster parents who have formed a bond with a child may seek to adopt that child, and will often do so through a public, state-funded agency like the one described above.
Adopting a child from another country is probably the most complicated process, because it requires you to satisfy both your state’s laws and the laws of the country from which you plan to adopt. Most international adoptions are governed through the Hague Adoption Convention, an organization that seeks to protect all parties involved and avoid scams, kidnappings, or child trafficking.
The Hague Convention will consider adoptions of children who are eligible to be adopted in their country, and who have been given an adequate chance to be adopted in their country. Adoption agencies working on an international adoption must be accredited and approved, and must be willing to disclose fees and potential expenses ahead of time. All children adopted through this process will receive adoption certificates from the Hague Convention.
Contact a Compassionate Greenville Adoption Attorney
No matter which type of adoption you choose, you’re looking for the same outcome: a chance to be a parent to a child who desperately needs you. That’s why it’s a good idea to contact a local adoption attorney who can work with you on your case. Robert Clark is a dedicated Greenville, SC family law attorney who has offered his services to many parents in Greenville; his compassion for people is matched by his experience with the local courts. If you’re interested in exploring adoption, call attorney Robert Clark today.