If you are an expectant mother considering adoption for your baby or a hopeful parent considering adoption for your family, you probably have a lot of questions about the adoption process.
This is normal. You aren’t expected to be an expert about adoption when you begin the adoption process. However, it does help to have a base-level understanding of what’s involved before deciding to adopt. This understanding can help inform your decision as you choose whether or not adoption is right for you. It will also help you feel more in-control during the process as you track where you are and understand why certain things are required of you.
Here, we’ll break down the major legal steps in the adoption process, first for prospective birth mothers and then for adoptive families. As you read, remember that you are not required to complete all of these steps on your own. Everyone who chooses adoption must work with an adoption attorney, who will help explain the process to you and help you complete your adoption in a safe, ethical way.
The Legal Adoption Process for Potential Birth Mothers
The first step of this process is contacting a trusted adoption professional. You don’t have to make this choice on your own. If you contact attorney Ken Nelson and the team at the Nelson Law Firm, they’ll walk you through the options you have in your unique situation. Ken won’t pressure you into choosing adoption — he’ll just inform you so that you can make the best decision possible.
Any woman considering adoption should speak to a professional before making a choice. You won’t be able to get a better understanding of adoption than from talking to someone who has helped hundreds of women through successful adoption plans.
After you’ve had this conversation, you may decide that adoption is right for you. If so, there are several things that the Nelson Law Firm, or any adoption professional, will provide for you in the legal steps of your adoption process:
- Termination of Parental Rights: Because adoption involves the transfer of parental rights from one parent to another, the biological parents’ rights must be terminated before a placement can occur. There are two ways this can occur: voluntary termination or involuntary termination. If you are choosing adoption for your baby, you will have a voluntary termination of parental rights. This is something your adoption attorney will help you navigate.
- Consent to Adoption: The means by which you voluntarily terminate your parental rights is by giving consent to adoption. Consent occurs near the end of the adoption process rather than at the beginning, which many people may falsely assume to be the case. In Iowa, you may give consent to adopt once a 72-hour waiting period has passed after birth. You don’t have to go to a courthouse to give consent; it can usually happen in the hospital. An adoption attorney will ensure your consent is properly given and recognized by law. Remember, you will never be forced to give your consent; you will perform this legal step only when you are 100 percent ready.
- Birth Mother Expenses: A potential birth mother is able to receive assistance with certain financial expenses in most domestic infant adoption processes. Your eligibility to receive specific assistance will be determined on a case-by-case basis, and an adoption attorney is vitally important to this legal element of the adoption process. It is very important to follow your state’s adoption finance laws exactly, so attorney Ken Nelson can manage the details of your case for you, for free.
- Birth Father Rights: When you decide to place your baby for adoption, the birth father’s rights will also need to be legally terminated. How a court decides to handle birth father rights is specific to each unique situation. Attorney Ken Nelson will work with you through this process to reach the best outcome possible.
The Legal Adoption Process for Hopeful Adoptive Parents
Just like for an expectant mother considering adoption, the first step for any hopeful parent thinking about adoption is to contact an adoption professional. Ken Nelson has worked with hundreds of families to accomplish successful adoptions. No matter what your knowledge of adoption is — a Google expert or nothing at all — you can contact the Nelson Law Firm to get a much better understanding of adoption and find out if it will be right for you.
There is a lot required of families considering adoption. From home study to adoption finalization and everything in between, here are some of the major legal elements of the adoption process for you:
- The Adoption Home Study: The adoption home study is a detailed review of a family’s home, lifestyle and adoption readiness. It is conducted by a licensed social worker in your state and usually includes things like a review of relevant documents, in-home visit and interviews. The adoption home study can seem like one of the more stressful parts of the adoption process because so much is asked of you, and it can feel invasive. Working with an adoption professional who will help you prepare in advance for a successful home study can make this step go much smoother.
- The Hospital Stay and Placement: The hospital stay will go according to the hospital plan created by the prospective birth mother at the beginning of the adoption process. At the end of the hospital stay, after the required waiting period has passed, a birth mother will give her consent to adoption and you will be placed with your child. This is a wonderful time, and an adoption attorney will watch over the legal aspects of placement so that you can focus on meeting your new child. It is important for placement to follow the law exactly, because a judge will review it during your adoption finalization hearing.
- Post-Placement Visits and Adoption Finalization: A series of post-placement visits are required in between placement and the adoption finalization hearing. These visits will evaluate how everyone is adjusting to the adoption and ensure that the placement is in the best interests of the child. Once the post-placement visits have been completed, a date will be set for your adoption finalization. At this hearing, attorney Ken Nelson will represent you before a judge who will issue your final decree of adoption. This hearing is both the culmination of a long process and the beginning of a lifelong journey.
These are just some of the major legal steps involved in adoption for both expectant mothers and hopeful parents. You can contact Ken and the team at the Nelson Law Firm today to learn more about the legal process of adoption in Iowa.