Adoption is a rich, rewarding experience for parents and children alike. Let a compassionate, knowledgeable attorney guide you through the complex process of building your family.
Our adoption Mission
We believe that everyone has a right to a loving family. We accept and support anyone who has the desire and the ability to create a stable, safe, and loving home for a child. Our mission at The Law Office of Jesse Adams is to create "forever homes" where children and adoptive parents can find happiness and thrive together.
The legal process of adoption can be lengthy, complex, and difficult to understand. We can help you navigate this complicated process and make it a smoother, more enjoyable experience, while ensuring that all legal and regulatory requirements are satisfied. Please read on to learn how adoption works, and contact us with any questions you have.
WHAT IS Adoption?
Adoption is a legal process that grants a child the same rights as a child born into the family. For example, a legally adopted child has the same right of inheritance as a biological child. Adoption also grants parents the same rights that they would have with a biological child, and gives them the same responsibilities. Legal adoption necessarily terminates the parental rights of the birth parents.
Typically, adoptions are facilitated through either an adoption agency or an attorney (and sometimes both). Each approach has its benefits; which one is better for you depends on your unique situation and the type of adoption you are considering. If you are not sure whether to use an attorney, an agency, or both, contact us and we will help you figure it out. If an agency would be the better choice for you, we will tell you that, and do our best to refer you to a vetted and highly qualified agency.
There are many types of adoptions, based on who the adoptive parents are, who is being adopted, and the relationship (if any) between them. Some of the common types of adoption are:
- Infant adoption: The child is adopted at birth or during early infancy.
- International adoption: The adoptive parents adopt a child from a foreign country.
- Waiting child adoption: This term refers to adopting a non-infant child, most commonly a toddler.
- Step-child adoption: The child is legally adopted by his or her step-parent. In Georgia. the step-parent must be married to the parent.
- Older child adoption: Adoption of a child over two years of age. While this type of adoption is not considered as commonly as infant or toddler adoption, there are many children in state custody up to 18 years old who would benefit greatly from being adopted.
- Relative adoption: The child is legally adopted by family members who are not his or her own parents.
- Special needs adoption: This term refers to adopting children who have different physical, mental, or emotional needs.
- Military and overseas adoption: A child is adopted by military personnel or overseas workers.
- Adult adoption: An adult is adopted by another adult who is not his or her own parent. In this type of adoption, even senior citizens may be adopted by younger adults.
Who can adopt?
Your state must approve any adoption, and they will first take steps to ensure that the potential adoptive parents meet certain standards. Adoptive parents must show that they and their home are:
- Safe - a home inspection is usually required as part of the adoption investigation. The investigator will want to see that the home has basic amenities and meets a basic standard of sanitation, as well as being structurally sound and located in a reasonably safe neighborhood.
- Legally eligible - requirements vary from state to state, but many states have minimum age and/or marriage requirements for adoptive parents. The goal of these laws is to make sure that adoptive parents are mature and stable enough to be good parents.
- Financially responsible - raising a child is a significant financial commitment. The state wants to ensure that adoptive parents can adequately feed, clothe, shelter, and educate a child, as well as provide necessary healthcare.
- Of good character - investigators may ask friends, family, coworkers, etc. to attest to your integrity, so that they can get an accurate impression of what kind of parent you will be. A history of criminal activity, drug use, or reckless behavior can complicate things, but may not entirely disqualify someone from adopting.
- In good health - raising kids takes a lot of energy, and states need to be certain that a potential adoptive parent has the mental and physical health to care for a child until adulthood.
In Florida, the legal requirements to be an adoptive parent are fairly minimal. For example, there is no age requirement. However, the state will still investigate potential adoptive parents to ensure that they meet the standards described above, and adoption agencies may set their own requirements above and beyond those of the state.
In Georgia, the state requires potential adoptive parents to be at least 25 years old and 10 years older than the child to be adopted. In some cases, such as step-parent adoptions, they may require the adoptive parent to be married to the biological parent. And of course, all adoptive parents must meet the standards described above, and be residents of the state (in GA, for at least 6 months prior to filing for adoption).
Your requirements may vary based on your unique situation. If you are uncertain about your requirements to adopt, contact us and we will help you determine your eligibility.
can lgbt individuals and couples adopt?
At The Law Office of Jesse Adams, we are strong supporters of the LGBT community and of everyone's equal right to have a family. We will happily help anyone with the desire and ability to provide a stable, loving home for a child.
In the landmark Obergefell case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples can exercise the fundamental right to marry in any state. The case, however, did not specifically address parentage. It is now easier than ever for gay couples and individuals to adopt children, but there are no clear gay adoption laws establishing the parental rights of non-biological parents in married couples. Accordingly, we highly recommend securing parental status through formal adoption. As the National Center for Lesbian Rights says,
what is the process, TIME FRAME, and cost?
Adoption Process: A good first step in the adoption process is to contact an adoption attorney or agency. We do not charge for initial phone consultations. If you decide to use us as your adoption attorney, we will tailor a personalized step-by-step adoption process to your unique situation, and explain it to you in plain language so that you know exactly what to expect.
Time Frame: Adoption can be a lengthy process, due to the extensive legal requirements, court schedules, the state's interest in ensuring that children go to good homes, and the need to properly socialize the child into their new situation. We do everything we can to expedite the process, but typically, adoptions take at least 4-6 months, and can take a year or more to finalize.
Cost: The adoption process does cost money, and how much depends on the type and complexity of adoption. Fortunately, at the time of this writing, there is a "dollar for dollar" federal tax credit for adoption expenses, which can greatly reduce the net cost. This is a non-refundable tax credit, which means that it can reduce your tax bill by the same amount that you paid in adoption expenses, but any excess credit will not be refunded to you. We recommend consulting a tax professional to fully understand the tax and financial implications of adoption; for our part, we do everything we can to keep your legal costs affordable.