Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions regarding adoption.

Married adults who have permission from their spouse, and single adults who are not cohabitating.

Yes, almost always. Usually, the birth mother gives consent to adopt more than twenty-four hours after the birth of the adoptive child. Consent may be given to a judge, or (more often) to a judge’s representative, such as an adoption agency. Consent, once given, cannot be withdrawn.

Consent may also be required from the birth father if the baby was born within a marriage, or the unwed father meets certain legal criteria (e.g. adjudicated father, filed voluntarily declaration of paternity, etc.)

A child may also give consent to an adoption if the child is more than twelve years old and mentally competent.

Consent may not be required if a child’s parents are deceased or their rights have been terminated by the State.

That depends on the adoption, but the general rule of thumb is anyone who must give consent must be notified of adoption proceedings. Notice must be given at least thirty days before any proceeding. Here are a few examples of those who must be notified: (1) legally appointed guardian(s), (2) your spouse, (3) a parent listed on the child’s birth certificate, (4) anyone who acts as the child’s parent and lives with the child.

For non stepparent adoptions, the time is six months. For stepparent adoptions, the time is one year.

They may. Stepparent adoptions have slightly different procedures than non stepparent adoptions (e.g., the adoptive child must have lived with the custodial parent and stepparent for at least one year), but generally follow similar rules. Once a stepparent has adopted his or her stepchild, the rights of the biological parent are terminated.

If someone does not consent to an adoption, he or she must either inform a court of an objection in writing with thirty days of receiving notice of the adoption, or must appear at the adoption hearing and tell a court his or her objection. If this happens, things become much more complicated because there are two parties arguing they have legal rights to the child. Your best course of action in a contested adoption circumstance is to hire an attorney.

That is a great question. The answer is “it depends.” If you go through an agency, some charge relatively little ($4000 to $10,000), while some charge quite a lot ($15,000 to $40,000). It also depends on where the adoptive child comes from. Domestic adoptions (i.e., adoptions of children from the U.S.) usually cost less than international adoptions (i.e., adoptions of children from outside the U.S.). International adoptions regularly costs $30,000 or more. Cost also depends on what type of child you wish to adopt. Unfortunately, minority children usually cost less to adopt than Caucasian children.

There is also a non-agency adoption route called private adoption. This route requires more work of the adoptive parents, but can prove to be significantly less expensive than agency adoptions. The usual cost of a private adoption is somewhere between $10,000 and $15,000.

Yes. The federal government, and some states, give adoptive parents tax credits for the expenses they spent on adoption. This allows adoptive families to recoup the money spent adopting their child. The federal adoption credit is currently $13,170, which means many adoptive families will recoup most, if not all, the money spent on their adoption.

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