Adoption Attorneys & Legal Counsel.
There are two main types of adoptions. First, there is the couple who wants to adopt a child who has no biological connection to either of them. The source of the child could be from someone the couple knows or from a complete stranger (as is the case when the child is identified through an adoption agency). Second, is the so-called “step-parent adoption,” where a person wants to adopt the child of his/her spouse. It is very common that, in the case of a stepparent adoption, the child, the child’s biological parent, and that parent’s spouse already have been living together for quite some time before the adoption case is commenced. The remaining discussion assumes a mother has a minor daughter, the mother later marries a man, and the married couple and the child have been living together for 2 years by the time they commence the adoption case.
In order for the adoption to be approved, the child’s biological father must agree to the termination of his parental rights. If he will not so agree, the adoption can only be accomplished if the court forcibly terminates the biological father’s parental rights. That can happen when the biological father hasn’t had much (or any) contact with the child, such that the child barely knows (or doesn’t know) who he is, and where the biological father has not been providing financial support for the child. Often, even in those circumstances, the biological father will willingly agree to the termination of his parental rights (not the least of which because, thereafter, he will not incur any additional child support obligation with respect to the child). In any event, assuming the biological father’s rights will get terminated, the court will need additional information before it will approve the adoption.
The court will appoint a person to perform a “home study” of the couple’s home. The appointed person will make a visit or two to the home to interview the couple and the child (if the child is old enough to be interviewed), as well as anyone else living in the home. The appointed person also will inspect the home to assess how things appear with respect to the child’s surroundings, bedroom, accommodations, etc. That person also will make contact with other people close to the couple and child (e.g., the couple’s siblings or friends, perhaps the child’s teacher), to determine their opinion about the proposed adoption. After all of that is done, the appointed person will write a report for the court, explaining all of the findings, and recommending either for or against the adoption. Then, a final adoption hearing takes place, at which the court will decide whether to approve the adoption. If so, the court will enter a Decree of Adoption. Thereafter, the adoptive father is the father of the child for all legal purposes and all legal responsibilities. For example, if the couple later divorces, it is the adoptive father, not the biological father whose paternal rights were terminated in the adoption case, who will be required to continue to financially support the child.