A decision to expand a family through adoption is usually a joyous time, though it could also be mixed with heartbreak. Whatever the circumstances, adoption is a complex process that often requires many months or longer to complete.
A Red Bank adoption lawyer could help people who wish to become adoptive parents navigate this complicated and highly emotional process. Numerous adoption pathways are available, and an experienced family attorney could help prospective adopters choose the one that suits their needs best.
Many aspiring adoptive parents work through either a private agency or the state Department of Children’s Services (DCS). In some cases, a birth mother and prospective adoptive parent(s) might learn of each other through other means and arrange a private adoption.
In any case, the prospective family must apply to adopt and complete a home study. Either a private agency or DCS will review an application and complete a background check. Prospective parents must complete training and undergo interviews as well as the official home study. It is a drawn-out process that could be exasperating and frustrating.
A proactive adoption lawyer in Red Bank could inform a prospective adopter about what to expect and help them complete their application and prepare for interviews and the home study. Although the vetting process takes time, having an ally available to provide support and information can make it much easier.
When one half of a couple is a biological or adoptive parent, and the other partner has no biological or legal relationship to the child, a stepparent or second parent adoption could ensure both partners have legal parental rights. Taking this critical step protects the child and the parent/child relationship if the couple divorces, separates, or one partner dies.
Adoption cannot happen if a child has another living legal parent. If a stepparent or second parent wants to adopt a child with two living legal parents, the child’s other legal parent must relinquish their parental rights before a stepparent or second parent could adopt.
In some cases, a seasoned Red Bank adoption attorney could assist a couple in securing a surrender of parental rights. If the other legal parent refuses to surrender, bringing a petition to terminate parental rights is possible; however, courts will not grant these petitions absent compelling proof that doing so is in the child’s best interests.
Sadly, parents sometimes struggle to care for their children or provide them a safe home. The children’s grandparents, an aunt or uncle, or an older sibling might step up to care for the children temporarily. In some cases, a child protection agency removes a child from their parent’s custody and places the child with relatives. In either circumstance, if the birth parents cannot overcome the obstacles to being responsible caretakers within a set timeframe, it might be appropriate to formalize the relationship with a kinship adoption.
A kinship adoption could make a joyous occasion out of a tragedy, but often there is a heartache first. The children’s parents might not agree to an adoption. In such an event, Tennessee Code Annotated §36-1-113 permits the prospective adoptive parents or the child protective services agency to petition a court to terminate the birth parents’ rights.
The children’s best interests must drive every legal proceeding involving a child. Although it could be devastating for the adoptive parent(s) to face a child or sibling in court and testify to their unfitness, providing a safe and appropriate home for the children must always be the priority. A knowledgeable adoption attorney in Red Bank could advise a family throughout the process and suggest services and strategies to help ease the transition for the children.
Adoption is a beautiful way to expand a family, but the process is full of emotional ups and downs and potential legal pitfalls. A smooth and successful adoption requires help from a committed legal professional who anticipates potential problems and resolves them quickly.
A Red Bank adoption lawyer is committed to helping families provide children with safe, stable, permanent homes. Schedule an appointment to discuss your plans to adopt with a compassionate attorney.