St Louis Adoption Attorney
How to Begin the Adoption Process in Missouri
An Awareness Guide for Anyone Wanting to Adopt a Child
The decision to adopt a child comes with many questions. Often adding to the confusion are numerous misconceptions and confusion over the legal process.
And that’s where this guide will help you. As you can imagine, starting the process unprepared or uneducated about your options is a mistake.
After you read the following information, you’ll be able to make informed, intelligent decisions about adopting your child. My experience as a lawyer practicing exclusively in domestic relations and family law in Missouri gives me unique insight into your situation. So I encourage you to also use me a source to calm your concerns.
I’m happy to answer your questions and evaluate your situation – without any obligation. Call me today at (314) 322-8515.
Of course, I know many people have reservations about working with lawyers. That’s why my practice is dedicated to educating prospects and clients.
After all, when you know what goes on behind the agreement process and understand why certain events happen, you can better project problems and create a more predictable outcome.
Tonya D. Page
The key to feeling comfortable during an adoption is educating yourself about the process and researching your options.
Your first step: Decide what type of adoption you want. Of course, this choice often leads to questions such as:
- Should I/we adopt a child from the U.S. or another country?
- What will the costs be?
- What resources are available to aid with costs and the process of adoption?
- What options are available for adoptions in Missouri and other states?
If you’re curious about these questions, this guide offers some answers. But an attorney experienced in the adoption process is the best resource for gathering a thorough understanding of the process.
Keep in mind, once you legally adopt, you gain the same legal rights to a child as if you were the biological parents. So there are many legal procedures you must carefully follow.
Here’s a rundown of adoption options in Missouri:
Private Agency Adoption
During an adoption process involving a private agency, birth parents give up their parental rights and transfer child custody to an adoption agency. The birth parents typically choose who the adoptive parents will be and often meet them before placement. In fact, most Missouri adoptions involve some degree of contact between the birth and adoptive parents.
The benefit of private agency adoption is fees are typically set so you can plan your costs. Additionally, the agency aids birth and adoptive parents through the process. One primary risk worth considering is that birth parents can decide to not give up their child for adoption before the process is finalized.
Attorneys or counselors facilitate independent adoptions by helping you find birth parents interested in placing their child up for adoption. As an adoptive parent, you’re often expected to provide financial support to the birth parents until adoption is finalized. The timeframe depends on how long it takes for you or your attorney to find a birth parent.
In independent adoptions, attorneys are usually more involved than during other adoptions because their role involves more than just filing legal documents. Also, an agency performs the home study to confirm that the adoptive parents are suitable and can provide post-adoption supervision and follow-ups.
Stepparent adoption usually occurs when a biological parent remarries and the new spouse wants to become a legal parent of the biological parent’s child. Step-parent adoption can occur when the non-custodial parent voluntarily relinquishes his or her parental rights. The parent’s rights can also be terminated if he or she is found to be unfit, unable, or unwilling to care for the child. This can also occur if the parent has died or cannot be found. (Relative adoption in Missouri works in a similar manner.)
Public Agency or Foster Care Adoption
These forms of adoption typically involve older children who spend extended time (sometimes years) in foster care without termination of the biological parents’ rights. Adoptive parents can become foster parents first and then adopt after the birth parents’ rights get terminated.
In Missouri, the Department of Social Services Children’s Division oversees foster children adoption. Since many are abused or neglected, the adoptive children may have emotional or physical challenges. However, this can be a great opportunity for older children who need a home with a caring and loving family.
Additionally, public agency adoption is usually less expensive than other forms, as the state may provide payment or reimburse initial expenses and adoptive parents may receive ongoing state subsidies or grants through your employer.
For additional information about the adoption process in Missouri, schedule your free assessment today by calling (314) 322-8515.