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For Adoptive Parents

I have been in your position before. My wife and I have been frustrated with infertility, left hoping that we could one day experience the gift of parenthood. My adoption story always comes back to the fact that everyday with my daughter is worth all of the difficulties and frustration we have experienced one thousand times over. My wife and I are so lucky to be her parents. I would not trade it for anything.

4-girls-300x250For those of you who have ever doubted whether being a parent is worth all of the obstacles, I assure you it is. As you probably already know, the road to parenthood can be difficult. It can be difficult with adoption too. With adoption, there can be huge financial barriers. Sometimes a birth mother may make the decision to keep her baby after months of waiting and other times a birth father may decide to exercise his claim to the child at the last minute.

I know several people who have given up on their hopes for an adoption based on these obstacles and it is a shame, because the joy of a successful adoption so outweighs the difficulties of the road traveled.

While I know several fellow attorney’s who have adopted, I am amazed at how few of them have chosen to use their professional skills to beat the drum, and help to facilitate the great gift that is adoption. I hope that I can assist in making the road to adoption not only an easier road to travel but also one that is traveled more often.

Adoption is not an overnight process, but rather one that requires some steps until your family can be realized. You, as an adoptive parent, will need to take ownership of the process and be willing and able to complete each step as within the necessary and needed timeframes. We will meet and define the roadmap that you must follow, but ultimately the speed of the process can and will depend on how much effort you give to the process.

The legal process – how it begins

The legal process can be begun once the child is born. In Missouri no Adoption can be completed without filing a Petition for Adoption with the Juvenile Court.

No person, agency, organization or institution shall surrender custody of a minor child, or transfer the custody of such a child to another, and no person, agency, organization or institution shall take possession or charge of a minor child so transferred, without first having filed a petition before the circuit court sitting as a juvenile court of the county where the child may be, praying that such surrender or transfer may be made, and having obtained such an order from such court approving or ordering transfer of custody.

The attorney must promptly contact the Juvenile court so that the Judge can approve to arrange for a legal transfer of custody.

In the event that the consent is signed by both the birth mother and father, the consents can be filed along with the Petition for Adoption.

Furthermore, the adoptive family must provide the court with a verified accounting of the fees provided in connection for the placement of adoption. Those fees may include medical expenses, counseling services, legal expenses for both parties and expenses for pre-placement assessments.

preg-woman-300x250The legal process – consent

A birth parent may choose to relinquish their parental rights so that their child can be adopted. Missouri law requires a child to be at least 48 hours old before a consent to adoption is valid. Once the consent is accepted by the court, the consent is irrevocable. In Missouri, how quickly the consent is accepted by the court can vary from county to county.

In Missouri, you will have to return to court approximately six months later. Understand that this six month period is a review of the adoptive parents capabilities and not an opportunity for consent to be revoked. It is a necessary step that loving parents should have little difficulty with. In my experiences, with all of the commitments that adoptive parents make even before the adoption, the capabilities of adoptive parents are typically more than satisfactory.

The same rules of consent apply to the birth father and the birth mother.  Consent of the adoption is required by both parties. However, in the event that the consent of the birth father cannot be obtained, the law does provide for several exceptions that need to be examined.  Please understand that it is not the desire for anyone who values the adoption process to pressure any birth parent into an adoption.

What can the adoptive family be expected to pay for?

In an adoption proceeding the court requires that the adoptive family must file a signed accounting of anything of value that the adoptive family pays in connection with the adoption placement.

By law, the Court may approve the following expenses:

  1. hospital, medical, and physician expenses incurred by the mother or a child in connection with the birth and any illness of the newborn child;
  2. counseling services for a parent or child for a reasonable time before and after the child’s placement for adoption;
  3. expenses incurred in obtaining a pre-placement assessment and an assessment during the proceeding for adoption;
  4. reasonable legal expenses of the birth parents – court costs, and travel or other administrative expenses connected with an adoption;
  5. reasonable living expenses, including, but not limited to, food, shelter, utilities, transportation, or clothing expenses of the birth parents and child that are within the norms of the community in which the birth mother resides; and
  6. any other services or items the court finds are reasonably necessary.

Please be aware that anyone offering to make a payment simply in consideration for an adoption or for your consent to an adoption is committing a Class C Felony in the State of Missouri. The purpose of an adoption is to create a loving, trusting environment for you, your child and the adoptive family. Such offers completely defeat the goal of stability and trust.

mother-baby-healthcare-visitor-300x250The Home Study

The first step for the adoptive parents is that a home study must be completed prior to beginning the adoption process. A home study consists of several things. For ours, my wife made me scrub just about every corner of the house twice. That is not necessary as it turns out, you do not have to win cleanest home of the decade for your home study.

However, for the home study you do need to be prepared to be interviewed alone by a social worker. You will be asked several sensitive questions. Be prepared to discuss your overall thoughts about adoption and your plans for how you plan to raise and discipline a child.