Thursday, 23 May 2013 00:00

Things to Know About Independent Adoptions

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What’s an independent adoption?

In an independent adoption, the birth parents must personally choose with whom to place their child.[1] The birth parents are entitled to know certain information about the adoptive parents, such as their full names, age, ethnicity, religion, the length of their marriage, the number of times each spouse has been previously married, past criminal convictions, child support obligations, and whether any children were previously removed from their home due to abuse or neglect.[2] In short, an independent adoption allows birth parents to personally select potential adoptive parents and have certain information about adoptive parents provided to them.

The Procedure

A smart way to start the independent adoption process is to obtain a pre-placement evaluation. This evaluation is done by a public or private adoption agency and may certify whether an individual is a suitable adoptive parent.[3]

After a pre-placement evaluation, an adoption placement agreement is the next step. The adoption placement agreement must be signed by each birth parent, each prospective adoptive parent and an adoption service provider, which is a licensed private adoption agency or an individual with a certain amount of experience.[4] The adoption placement agreement contains some of the following requirements: (1) 10 days prior to signing the agreement, the birth parent has been advised of certain rights, such as alternatives to adoption, other types of adoption, and counseling sessions to be paid for by adoptive parents; (2) the agreement is not signed until the birth mother is out of the hospital, unless the child is discharged first and the birth mother is deemed competent to sign; (3) the adoption service provider witnesses each party sign the agreement.[5] Additionally, the agreement must state that the birth parents understand that the agreement is for the purpose of adoption and the agreement becomes an irrevocable consent to the adoption 31 days after signing.[6]

Finally, an adoption petition must be filed with the court.[7] The petition has the adoption placement agreement attached to it and declares that certain information will be filed with the county adoption agency.[8] Some of the information required by the LA County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), for example, includes the child’s birth certificate, marriage certificates of the birth parents and adoptive parents, prior divorce decrees, verification of income and TB tests of adults living in the household.[9]

Independent adoptions require lots of planning and many considerations. For more information on independent adoptions, consult an experienced family law attorney.

[1] FC 8801(a).

[2] FC 8801(b).

[3] FC 8811.5(a).

[4] FC 8801.3(b) and 8502(a).

[5] FC 8801.3(b).

[6] FC 8801.3(c)(2).

[7] FC 8802.

[8] FC 8802(b).