To adopt a child one should be aware of several adoption rules and laws in order to do everything in a proper way. It is important to take into consideration five significant entities before starting the process of adoption. First of all, one should be ready to face the birth parents’ demands. They may want to give their child to a family with certain religious beliefs, to only one parent or a couple. They may also be willing to have their child adopted by parents of a certain age group or living in a special area. There can be multiple demands and preferences. All of them may influence the process of adoption and make it more difficult than it should be.
The restrictions offered by the federal government and the state are two more entities to pay attention to. For example, there are restrictions if one intends to place a baby with a lesbian. After taking into consideration the requirements and demands of a child’s parents and the state, it is necessary to analyze the expectations of the adopting family. The latter may want to adopt a child from certain background, drug-free or with any other characteristics. The last entity is to find a good adoption agency. It may also become a problem, because a lot of these agencies have their own rules for adoption. For example, they may refuse to cooperate with singles or people who follow certain religious beliefs. All the information mentioned above means that it takes much time to adopt a child and the process is rather complicated for the adoptive parent or family.
It should be noted that each state may have some peculiarities in adoption rules. At the same time, there are three types of laws that are common for the citizens of all states. These are:
1) International laws (Hague Convention and Intercountry Adoption Act)
2) Federal laws (Multiethnic Act, Omnibus Act, Adoption Assistance Act, Family and Medical Leave Act)
3) Additional laws (Interstate Compact and Indian Child Welfare Act)
Hague Convention has forty-eight articles aimed to protect children in case of intercountry adoption (Bartholet, 1993, p. 122). This law includes the scope of the convention, requirements for adoption if the parents are from another country, accredited bodies and central authorities in the process of adopting a child, procedural requirements in case of intercountry adoption, effects and recognition of adoption, etc.
As for Intercountry Adoption Act, it was written in order to prevent abuse or sale of children (Pati, 2007, p. 18). Next, Multiethnic Placement Act was created in order to minimize the time children usually spend waiting for their adoption. This act helps to facilitate the process of adoption and includes some important adoption-related rules for everyone to know before looking for a child. Additionally, Omnibus Budget Act deals with the adopted children’s health. Its goal is to guarantee that they will have the same health insurance as birth children. Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act covers a lot of important issues. For example, it deals with children in foster care, special needs for children and needs of children that are to be adopted (Simon, 1994, p. 314). Moreover, this act provides the adopting parents with assistance payments. Hence, all the circumstances and details concerning the adopting family and a child are taken into consideration. Although this act is rather important and gives the answers to some questions concerning adopting procedure, it is not very frequently applied in everyday use in order to facilitate the process.
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The Family and Medical Leave Act has three major significant goals to achieve. They are listed below:
1) To guarantee the economic security of families and do everything possible to motivate their stability;
2) To encourage the employees to use medical leaves when they have medical reasons for doing this. It should be done when a spouse, a birth or adopted child has problems with health;
3) To guarantee equal employment opportunities for all parents with birth and adopted children (Morris, 1999, p. 102).
This act contains all general requirements needed for a leave. Interstate Compact Act states that it is impossible to adopt a child from another state until both sides have agreed to do that. It is necessary to get a permission from both states in order to bring a child from one state to another. That is why each state in America has a special office to deal with such issues as adopting a child from another state. One needs to refer to an attorney or special adoption agency in order to fill all necessary forms and send them to both states. This procedure may take much time. As a rule, the adopting family may deal with this issue during several weeks.
Indian Child Welfare Act describes the rights of Indian children and gives the information about the adoptive placements for this category. According to this document, the preference will be given to: 1) some member of the child’s family, 2) one who belongs to the child’s tribe, and 3) one who is a member of the Indian family. This document contains data about the agreements between Indian tribes and states. Moreover, here one will find everything that is necessary to know in order to adopt an Indian child.
There are a lot of adopting rules that differ from state to state. Each law has its peculiarities. Thus, the adopting family has to become familiar with such state laws as: Promoting Safe and Stable Families Amendments of 2001, Multiethnic Placement Act (MEPA) of 1994, Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003, Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000, Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) of 1978, Immigration Vaccine Act, Foster Care Independence Act of 1999, Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), Child Citizenship Act of 2000, Child Abuse, Domestic violence, Adoption and Family Services Act of 1992, Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPATA) of 1974, Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPATA) and Adoption Reform Act of 1978, CAPTA Amendments of 1996, Child Abuse Prevention and Enforcement Act of 2000, Child Abuse Amendments of 1984, adoption assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, Adoption and safe Families Act (ASFA) of 1997, and Abandoned Infants Assistance Act (p.125).
No wonder that the contemporary society does not often experience adoption. It is a complicated process and requires much patience to achieve the goal – to adopt a child. In addition, there are a lot of various laws and documents that should be considered in the process of adopting a child. As a result, this process becomes rather time-consuming. For some people, adoption is a very challenging task and they do not even try to find a child to adopt. It is necessary to emphasize that there are several types of adoption. They are: open adoption, closed adoption, relative adoption, and older child adoption. Open adoption occurs very often because there are a lot of advantages in this case for all sides. So, there are advantages for birth parents, for an adoptive family, and for an adopted child. This type of adoption means that the adoptive parents and the birth ones are aware of the identity of the other side. The parties may desire to be in constant contact and nobody may prevent them from doing that. The birth parents have an opportunity to feel some sense of control as they have an opportunity to control the process of choosing the parents for their child. If they want to interview the adopting family, they are welcome to do so. The uncertainty is reduced as the birth parents have access to the information about their children. The process of mourning is improved as the birth parents may contact the adoptive family and the child. This fact lessens the sense of loss and helps to be in touch with the child. The fear about the baby is reduced since it is possible to know everything about his/her life. It is even possible to maintain friendly relations with the child in the future and communicate with him/her. The same relationship may be experienced with the adoptive family; it may become the part of the birth family. There is no guilt about abandoning the child as the birth parents have an opportunity to see him/her and know everything about his/her welfare.
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The adoptive family also is believed to have a reduced level of fear for their child as they communicate with the birth family and know everything about their intentions. They do not worry and the possibility of problems with the birth parents is also very low. The adoptive family is medically informed and knows everything about the child’s illnesses and genetics. It is also possible to contact with the birth parents in case of any questions and problems about the child’s health. Therefore, the adopting family has a splendid opportunity to learn everything about the child and handle unpredictable situations together with the birth parents.
As for the adoptive child, he/she also has a lot of advantages in case of open adoption. For example, he/she knows everything about his/her family and family trees. There are no secrets as for cultural background. Moreover, the child does not have a so-called sense of abandonment as he/she has an opportunity to communicate with his/her birth parents. In the majority of cases the adopted children tend to search for their birth parents when they become older. There is no such need in case of open adoption. Therefore, the child receives additional support from the birth family.
Closed adoption has its peculiarities and advantages for both sides. Some people may feel guilt for having given a child to another family. That is why it is better for them to choose closed adoption in order to start a new life. It would be too painful to see a child in another family; that is why birth parents do not want to cooperate with it and refuse from open adoption. Closed adoption may be a good way to reduce confrontation. It is also a good method to get some sense of closure a birth mother may search for after adoption. In case of closed adoption the birth family is not involved in the way their child is educated and taken care of. It means more freedom and independence. Moreover, there are no fuzzy boundaries. As a rule, the latter happen when the birth parents are too active and are eager to participate in everything the adoptive family does. As for the child, he/she is protected from unstable birth parents. He/she lives a normal life thinking that he/she has only one family.
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The main advantage of relative adoption is that the adoptive parent is aware of all hereditary traits possessed by the child. There is no necessity to research medical history as everything is known. Therefore, the adoptive parent knows all the information he/she needs to bring up the child and take care of him/her in a proper way. However, it is important to remember about the disadvantages of such adoption. For example, there is the possibility of pressure from the side of the child’s parents. They will always remind of the adoption and it is not a very pleasant thing to hear.
Moreover, it may happen that the birth parent will decide to compete in the amount of attention demonstrated to the child. This sounds unfair to the legal parent. Still, it is believed that relative adoption is rather safe. It is possible to establish good relations with both a child and his/her birth parent. There is also a blood similarity between the adopted child and his/her adoptive parent. To complete the relative adoption one is expected to prepare a written agreement with the relative as for the decision whether to tell the child about the adoption. Moreover, it is necessary to be ready to the fact that the biological parent has the right to see the child if it is a mutual desire.
Older child adoption means that a person adopts a child that is older than one year. In this case it may be more difficult for the latter to get used to a new family and there can be a psychological trauma. Nevertheless, it is possible to avoid this if adopting parents are taught how to behave with an adopted child. It should be noted that the adjustment period may be challenging for both sides - the adopting family and the child. There may be feelings of loss and grief. That is why the adoptive family must do everything possible to make the process of communicating with the child easier and more pleasant.
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As it has already been mentioned, adoption rules and laws vary from state to state in America. For example, in Missouri the termination of birth parent rights (TPR) should occur before adoption. The easiest way to do that is when a biological parent agrees to terminate his/her rights for a child. The court should listen to the reasons for this termination and decide whether there are any statutory causes of the parent’s decision. The major rule the court should follow is to make sure that TPR is made in the interests of the child. The Missouri Bar Adoption Guide states that “a court may decide to terminate parental rights because of a finding that the birth parent abandoned, abused or neglected the child” (Zainaldin, 1979, p. 136).
According to the above-mentioned document, all adoptive parents should take active part in the investigation. It is a type of assessment. It may take about two months and involves gathering information. As a rule, they pay more attention to criminal record and medical issues. The adoptive parent is expected to participate in numerous interviews and answer multiple questions.
After doing all this, the court prepares a transfer of custody order. It is distinguished as an official documentation proving that the adoptive parent has all parental rights over the adoptive child. To receive this document the adoptive parent is expected to stand before the court. According to the Missouri Bar Adoption Guide, “the court enters a custody order if it finds that assessment, verifies accounting, and reports on the child are all satisfactory, and that there has been compliance with all applicable laws” (p. 187). After the court’s decision the adoptive parents have the rights over the child as if he/she were his/her biological mother or father. If one is going to adopt a child in Missouri, he/she should be ready to pay about one hundred and forty-five dollars for the court filing fees. According to Missouri Adoption and Foster Care, “any person desiring adopt another person as his or her child shall petition the juvenile division of the circuit court of the country in which: 1) the person seeking to adopt resides, 2) the child sought to be adopted was born, 3) the child is located at the time of the filing of the petition, or 4) either birth person resides” (Schwartz, 1995, p. 109).
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As for the adoption procedures in Montana, you are allowed to adopt a child here only if one has been already the resident of this state for six months before he/she prepares a petition. This fact is obligatory to mention in the complaint it will be analysed during the final hearing of the court. It may happen that a person has a child or children who reside with another spouse in another state. In this case, it is very important to make sure that another state has a proper jurisdiction over that child or those children. This procedure occurs if the residence of a child or children lasts for six months as well.
According to Montana adoption laws, a person who is willing to adopt a child with a spouse living in another state is expected to file the adoption. It must be done in the county of a spouse’s residence or in the county both people used to live together. Either the adoptive person or his/her spouse is required to have residence in Montana. It is the rule that is obligatory to follow. There are certain grounds for termination of parental rights in Montana. They are the following ones: 1) Certain abuse, 2) Imprisonment, 3) Failure to support and raise the child or children, and 4) abandonment.
In Montana, the birth parent has no right to visit his/her child or children if he/she lost the parental rights. This rule occurs not in all American states, but even if it happens the visitation should be permitted by the adoptive parents. Otherwise, it is impossible to organize it.
In Nevada there are eight major steps to go through in order to complete an adoption process. They are: 1) filing a petition, 2) completing a special setting slip, 3) completing home study or asking for waiver investigation, 4) completing an affidavit forth fees or asking for waiver of affidavit setting forth fees, 5) attending a prove-up hearing in the court, 6) decreeing of the adoption, 7) noticing of entry of the decree of the adoption, and 8) reporting about the adoption (Dickenson, 2006, p. 48). It is necessary to stress that in Nevada it is possible to adopt an adult. It may happen if the adult is not the adopting person’s spouse. For adopting a child in Nevada, the person should live in this state for six months (as in Montana). If the adopting parent has a spouse, he/she should present the latter’s agreement to adopt a child. It is possible to adopt a child if he/she has lived with the adoptive parent at least for a month. One is not allowed to adopt a person if a child is less than ten years younger than a parent. In case, if the adoptive child is more than fourteen years old, he/she should give his/her agreement to be adopted by the adoptive parent.
Adoption in Florida is possible if one goes through the following procedures: orientation, MAPP or preparation course, home study, approval, after-approval, matching, placement supervision, and finalization. Each of these stages is extremely important in the process of adoption. Orientation is the first step that should be done to adopt a child. It means that a person who is going to adopt a child meets with a prospective adoptive couple. It is necessary to get to know more about the peculiarities of the adoptive process and get prepared for it. Then, it is necessary to participate in special training for adoptive parents. They are expected to complete the course successfully. The major goal of the training is to prepare people for adoption and give them the most important information about this process.
As for the home study, it means that the adoptive parent must be ready to give the information about himself/herself. First of all, it is necessary to give information about the adoptive parent’s health. This will be followed by numerous checks at the local, federal, and state level. Even the adoptive parent’s fingerprints will be screened. The next thing to do will be asking an employer and other people who know the adoptive person well and are able to give the information about him/her. After doing such an investigation it is time to expect the counsellor at home. He/she usually asks a few questions concerning adoption. They are such questions as: “What are your reasons for adopting a child? How did you spend your own childhood? What are the most important strong points of your marriage or family? What is the financial situation of your family? Is there any parental philosophy you are going to follow?” (Dorow, 2006, p. 123)
All the information about the adoptive parent is gathered in a special packet in order to send it for approval. It must be approved by an adoption specialist. The person will be notified in case of approval or non-approval. In case of approval the adoptive parent searches for a child to adopt. To learn more information about a certain child, one is expected to ask questions to the counselor. In case one child is matching the adoptive family, it is necessary to discuss all pre-placement details with the counselor. After the placement the latter should visit the adoptive family once a month to make sure if the child is taken care of in a proper way. This period is called the supervision period. It ends when the counselor gives “the consents to adopt” to the adoptive parent attorney. It is also very important to participate in the hearing before the judge. Only after this step the adoption procedure can be successfully completed.
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It should be noted that adoption regulations are different in different states. Nevertheless, the adoptive family is everywhere checked for its ability to raise a child and support it. It is also necessary to fill special forms for adoption and participate in the hearing before the court. Moreover, it is possible to adopt a child only if his/her biological parents abandoned him/her, do not have parental rights because of some reasons, or refused to raise the child/children.
According to statistics, adoptive parents choose children under the age of one year. Those who are more than one or two years are adopted less frequently. The situation is worse with the children of three-four years, five-twelve years, thirteen-seventeen years and more. Therefore, the children of less than one year have the greatest chance to be adopted. It is known that approximately two per cent of women agree to place their children or child for adoption. This concerns females of all ages. It is necessary to stress that the number of premarital births is under decrease after 1970. The following trend of this tendency is observed:
1) About 8.7 per cent of premarital births were put for adoption in 1952-1972
2) About 4.1 per cent of premarital births were put for adoption in 1973-1981
3) The per cent decreased till 2 in 1982-1988 (Miller, 2010, p. 111).
According to statistics, women who place their child or children for adoption are: 1) white unmarried females (about three per cent) and 2) black unmarried females (about two per cent). According to the public foster care system the percentage of adopted males is higher than females. The number of male adopted children in 2010 composed fifty-one per cent and female forty-nine per cent. Ninety per cent of adopted children got an adoption subsidy. There was also a certain ethnic distribution among the adopted children. The tendency was the following: 1) Alaska Native/American Indian – 3 per cent, 2) black children twenty-four per cent, 3) Asian children – 0 per cent, 4) Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander – 0 per cent, 5) Hispanic – 21 per cent, 6) white children – 43 per cent, 7) Unable to determine – 1 per cent, and children with two and even more races – 7 per cent (Pertman, 2011, p. 13). In the United States, there are about 125,000 adoptions that occur each year. The majority of them are domestic adoptions. However, there are about 130, 000 children in the United States who are waiting for their loving parents. The majority of them wait about five years to be adopted. It is known that each year more than 26,000 of these children undergo emancipation. Therefore, there are still a lot of children waiting for adoption and new family (p. 48).
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Unfortunately, not all people who are willing to adopt a child have an opportunity to do it. A person may not have residence in the state where he/she wants to adopt a child. This rule should be analysed and changed. It should be possible to adopt a child in any state without the residence there if a person is registered in some other state. It seems that location is not very important in case of adoption. Plus, sometimes the process of adopting is too long, so something should be done in order to change the situation for the better.
Schwartz states that “the adoption procedure may become easier to accomplish in case of: 1) legal changes, 2) private sector changes, and 3) changes within the educational system. The majority of people do not know what is necessary to do in order to adopt a child. They are not aware of the peculiarities of the process. This is because of lack of education in this sphere” (Schwartz, 1995, p. 178). The situation may be changed for better if each state prepares a detailed teaching program for those who want to adopt a child. Such programs should be demonstrated on television. It is also a good idea to increase the number of centres that are giving consultations about adoption procedures. As for legal changes, there are too many things to do in order to adopt a child. This is a boring and difficult process. It should be made easier and take less time. This will increase the adoption rating in all American states. More children will get parents. Next, the procedure of adoption is more difficult to complete for those people who are working very hard. They do not have enough time to participate in each activity they should in case of adoption. It is a paradox, as one should have to earn much money to support a child. However, when he/she does so and has little free time, it becomes virtually impossible to prepare all petitions and do the thing the state demands for the adopting procedure. It is my firm belief that the majority of adoption procedures should be abolished.
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It is necessary to stress that current adoption procedures include too many steps to cope with. They are: goal change hearing, relinquishment and termination of parental rights, pre-placement report, intent to adopt, preparing the report of the intermediary, getting the custodial agency consent, adoption petition, and hearing. It should be noted that the relinquishment and termination of parental rights is the most complicated process.
One should participate in a great number of actions in order to achieve the goal. Hence, it should be noted that the situation with adoptions is still complicated. Although the United States of America still remain the country that adopts a lot of children each year, the adoption procedure is too difficult to make American rating among the adopting countries even better. The situation is complicated by the fact that requirements for adoption vary from state to state. This makes it rather difficult to consider all rules for adoption.
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