It is an exciting time. You’ve decided to add to your family and adopt a child. While adopting a child can be an immensely rewarding experience, it is often accompanied by a host of legal and bureaucratic complexities. Those who approach the process with the aid of a knowledgeable attorney find that they are relieved of much of the delays, frustration and expense it often entails.
In a step-parent adoption, the court can waive the requirement that the adoption family have an adoption study done. Most courts will do this as long as the step-parent has been married to the legal parent for more than one year. If an adoption study is required, it is usually done by the adoptive parent's county social services.
If the birth father of the child is still in the picture, his rights must be dealt with prior to adoption by the step-parent. This can be done either voluntarily by the birth father signing a Consent to Adoption or involuntarily by a court finding that he has “abandoned” the child. Usually abandonment means he has had no contact with the child and/or not paid any support for the child for at least six months.
A close relative of the step-parent adoption is a second-parent adoption in which an unmarried partner adopts the partner's biological child. The state of Minnesota does not have a uniform law on second-parent adoptions. The period between birth and adoption can be very stressful, so you need an adoption attorney with the knowledge and experience to explain the process to you and keep you informed each step of the way. Unique Estate Law understands your eagerness to have that final birth certificate and I will work to ensure the process goes as quickly and smoothly as possible.
If you are considering adopting a child from another state, it is critical that you know and adhere to the rules established in the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC). The ICPC is an agreement, followed by all 50 states, that governs the process for interstate adoption. The adopting parents must adhere to both their state's adoption requirements as well as those of the state where the child resides. This ICPC is made up of a confusing maze of rules and procedures put in place to “protect” the adoptee. As such, it is easy to accidentally violate a condition of ICPC, resulting in increased fees and delays in completing the adoption process.
Whether you are a parent struggling to find the right home for your child, a couple looking to welcome a new member into your home or a relative hoping to assume responsibility for a minor in your family, you should contact Unique Estate Law to ensure no detail is overlooked. We will take the time to explain all of the adoption issues to you, assist in the preparation of required documentation, represent you at the adoption hearings and advocate on your behalf should any challenges arise in the future. Unique Estate Law will also provide you with alternative legal measures to protect your children such as Standby Custodial Designations or Parental Powers of Attorney.
If you do adopt, please remember to update your (or create an) estate plan to ensure that you are the one who decides the appropriate person to act as guardian for your child and/or trustee of your estate.
From within Hennepin County Unique Estate Law represents estate planning and elder law clients throughout Minnesota, including Minneapolis, Edina, Bloomington, St. Louis Park, Minnetonka, Plymouth, Wayzata, Maple Grove, St. Paul, and Brooklyn Park. The Minnesota law firm of Unique Estate Law focuses on all aspects of estate planning, including specialized wills, trusts, powers of attorney and medical directives for married couples, young families, blended families, single parents, gay families and those going through a divorce. Unique Estate Law also handles probate administration, asset protection, Medical Assistance planning, elder law, business succession planning, adoptions and cabin planning.