The Adoption Process

DOMESTIC ADOPTIONS

Forever Families is committed to providing ongoing education, support and preparation to individuals, couples and families seeking to adopt children. Forever Families recognizes the anxiety of families seeking an infant adoption and strive to provide daily support and guidance as needed. Free orientations and consultations are always available. Twenty four hour intervention is available.

How the process works:

Domestic adoption laws in Michigan changed in 1994, and Direct Placement (or Direct Consent) adoptions became legal. This new legal process eliminated adoption waiting lists. Now a birth parent seeking to place a child in an adoptive home can pick from a pool of adoptive parents and can legally transfer custody of the child after birth to the adoptive parents. Adoptive parents, in turn, will also sign a legal document that accepts this custody. Adoptive parents are able to have their child placed with them directly after birth; foster care is not necessary.

An adoption petition along with supporting legal documents are then submitted to a Circuit-Family Court in the county where the adoptive parents reside. Most often a hearing is scheduled within 30 days of placement and parental rights are terminated. A formal adoption placement order is also issued at this time. This will begin six months of supervision for the adoptive parents and child. This has nothing to do with parental rights. Supervision consists of two home visits (every three months) between an adoption specialist and the family. A report is generated and presented to the Court to ensure adjustment is going well. At the end of the supervision period, presentation to the Court is made and finalization of the adoption is requested.

The adoption process, of course, may vary depending on where the birth parent lives as opposed to the adoptive parents, or if the adoption involves an out of state placement.

INTERNATIONAL ADOPTIONS

International adoptions have become very popular in recent years, as children ranging in age from three months and up have become available for adoption placement. Many parents enter international adoption programs because the need is great and the programs are successful. Once adoptive parents enter into this program, their goal of adopting children is usually successful within a predictable period of time, depending on the country. There are, however, many variables in an international adoption process that require adoptive parents to be flexible and patient.

Children available for adoption internationally must be classified as an “orphan” according to United States immigration standards in order to get a visa to enter the country. The United States does not recognize private international adoptions and getting a visa for the privately adopted child to enter the country may be extremely difficult.

International adoption involves three distinct roles; licensed agency, international intermediary and foreign staff. Service fees for an international adoption are generally associated with these three roles. These roles exist in all international adoptions; some agencies perform all tasks. Working with an agency that provides all three roles is not necessarily an advantage to adoptive parents.

Licensed Agency
A licensed agency, such as Forever Families, initially involved in an international adoption, should prepare, educate and support the adoptive parents. They will complete an adoption pre-placement assessment and may be contracted to assist with the creation of the international dossier.

Financial considerations: Adoptive parents will pay for an adoption service application, a pre-placement assessment and possibly other contracted services.

International Intermediary
This is the ‘program manager’ who lives in the United States and oversees the flow of services back and forth from a specific country. They will often guide the dossier completion, ensure the proper authentication of documents and maintain communication and direction with the foreign staff. They are responsible for submitting the dossier in the foreign country and coordinating the presentation of available children for placement.

Financial considerations: Adoptive parents will pay a program fee, which is also often referred to as an application or registration. This covers the services of the intermediary or program manager.

Foreign Staff
These are the professionals residing in the foreign country who facilitate all legal submission of documents and coordination and completion of United States Immigration requirements. These professionals may involve attorneys, social workers, orphanage guardians, etc. who live and work in that country for the international intermediary.

Financial considerations:
This is the most expensive fee in an international adoption process and will vary country to country. These fees generally cover all facilitation and legal fees in the foreign country.

STATE WARD

Adoptive parents seeking to adopt a state ward child (currently in foster care or a residential facility) are required to attend classes and training to gain a better understanding of the special needs of these children. Community mental health and educational supports must be strong and identified prior to a placement. The adoption process for state ward children, unfortunately, takes time and is often frustrating.

Foster parents and those who have experience with special needs children are the best candidates to successfully adopt through this program. There are however, thousands of children across the United States; many are displayed through state adoption exchanges on the internet.

There are no significant fees associated with the adoption of state ward children. Adoptive parents are expected to pay an application fee and a pre-placement assessment fee. The assessment fee, as well as other expenses that a prospective adoptive parent incurs, may be reimbursable upon the completion of the adoption.

Most of the children available are also entitled to a subsidy payment until the age of 18 years. This non-taxable income is provided to meet the day-to-day expenses for a child. It is based on the child’s eligibility and needs, not the adoptive parent’s economic status.

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