What information does an adoption agency consider when determining whether to place a child with prospective adoptive parents?

The agencies will conduct an investigation of the prospective adoptive parents, which can include a background check for past criminal history and possible past child abuse. In most states the agency will prepare a report and study for approval by the court that will determine whether the adoption is in the best interest of the child and that placement with the prospective adoptive parents is in the best interest of the child.

What is the court or judge's role in the adoption process?

The judge has to approve of the adoption. This means that the judge must determine that the adoption fits the best interest of the children. Some states have laws specifically authorizing judges to interview adoptees to determine their attitudes about the pending adoption.

What is a foreign adoption?

A foreign or international adoption is where a person or persons have adopted a child from a foreign country. Generally, the prospective adoptive parents must comply with the laws and procedures of the foreign country. Still, an American judge has to give final approval to the adoption though usually that is a mere formality, which simply requires the judge to sign a petition acknowledging the foreign adoption.

Can adoption agencies consider the race of the adoptive parents or children when making decisions?

In most states the racial preferences of adopting parents can be taken into consideration and honored. However, many state laws specifically prohibit an adoptive agency from denying or delaying an adoption based on the race of the adoptive parents or the adoptee. For example, Arizona law provides: "Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, the division, an agency, or the court shall not deny or delay a placement or an adoption certification based on the race, the color or the national origin of the adoptive parent or the child."

Can prospective adoptive parents advertise that they wish to adopt a child?

It depends on individual state law. The trend is that more states do allow prospective adoptive parents to advertise their interest in adopting a child.

What expenses do adoptive parents pay to the birth mother?

That depends but most states allow prospective adoptive parents to pay the birth mother's medical expenses and other costs during the pregnancy period. However, the adoptive parents cannot pay a flat sum to a birth mother to relinquish her rights to the child.

What age restrictions are imposed on prospective adoptive parents?

Some states provide that prospective adoptive parents be a certain amount older than the minor children they seek to adopt. For example, California law provides that a non-familial adoptive parent must be at least 10 years older than the minor child he or she seeks to adopt. Most states require that adoptive persons be at least 21 years of age.

Does a biological father have the right to notification that his child may be placed for adoption by the child's mother?

Yes, the laws of many states may require that biological fathers be notified of the adoption of his child. Biological fathers may be placed in a putative father registry. A putative father is defined as the alleged or reputed father of a child born out of wedlock. Such notice in many states can be by registered or certified mail, personal service.

Can stepparents adopt their spouse's (biological) children?

Yes, stepparent adoptions are recognized by state laws. Generally, a stepparent can adopt his or her spouse's children as long as they have resided with the minor child for a certain period of time. For example, Alabama's adoption scheme requires stepparents to reside with the children for one year before approving such adoptions.

Are adoption records private?

Yes, most adoption records are confidential. Many state laws allow such records to be accessed by an adoptee (once they turn 18), the birth parents of the adoptees, and biological siblings of the adoptee.

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