You may be considering adoption for a variety of reasons. You may want to legally adopt the children of a new spouse. You may be unable to build your family biologically. You may need to provide a home to the children of a sibling or other family member who has lost parental rights.

The Reasons for Adopting

The predominant reasons for seeking to adopt a minor include:

  • Providing certain benefits as a stepparent—If your spouse has children from a previous marriage and you want them to be eligible for health insurance benefits, or to be legal beneficiaries on insurance policies or of your estate, legally adopting them can confer those rights.
  • Protecting minor children when their parents are incapable of doing so—If you have a family member with substance abuse problems, who is incarcerated, or who cannot otherwise properly care for their minor child, you can seek to adopt the child to provide a safe and loving environment.
  • Building your family when you can’t do so biologically—Most adoption proceeding involve individuals or couples who struggle with infertility, or who want to build a family other than biologically.

The Different Types of Adoption Proceedings

Adoption proceedings can be:

  • Open vs. closed—In an open adoption, the birth parents and the adoptive parents typically meet each other before the adoption, have contact information for each other, and may even arrange to have contact after the adoption is complete. The adoptive parents may even allow visits by the birth parent. In a closed adoption, the identities of the parties remain anonymous, and there is no contact between the parties, either before or after the adoption.
  • Agency vs. private adoption—In an agency adoption, you rely on personnel from an adoption agency to facilitate most matters related to the adoption, from the home study to finding a potential child to adopt. The agency will typically make you aware of all legal requirements and help make certain that you complete all tasks. In a private adoption, you personally take on all of the tasks that the adoption agency would have. You work directly through a variety of channels to find a child, and customarily work with an attorney to complete the process.
  • Domestic vs. international adoption—A domestic adoption is simply one where all parties reside within the continental United States. An international adoption involves bringing a child from a foreign country to become a part of your family. In domestic adoptions, you may still have issues related to the different laws in each state. With an international adoption, you may be required to travel to the child’s birth country as part of the process.

Termination of Parental Rights

The finalization of any legal adoption process requires the termination of the rights of the biological parent. This may be accomplished either voluntarily or involuntarily. To involuntarily terminate parental rights, you must typically show that it is the best interests of the minor child to do so.