Our family law attorneys are always thrilled to help loving parents add another member to their home. Creating or adding to your family by adopting a child is an exciting process, but also brings many questions.
Here is some basic information about the different types of adoption in Massachusetts and the steps involved.
Types of Adoption
There are three ways your family can adopt – International Adoptions to adopt an infant or child from a foreign country (9-24 months to complete), Domestic Infant Adoptions to adopt a newborn or infant in the United States (1-3 years to complete), and Waiting Child Adoptions to adopt a child from public foster care in the United States (1-5 years to complete. Most waiting child adoptions involve children ages 1-5 or 12-18, although there are children of all ages looking for a permanent home. Only agencies licensed by the Department of Social Services (DSS) or Office of Child Care Services (OCCS) can legally place a child in a permanent home for adoption.
Adopting in Massachusetts
(from the Center for Adoption Research, University of Massachusetts)
The adoption process can be drawn-out and expensive, but the steps involved are mostly the same for all three approaches. You probably have an idea in mind of the child you want to adopt. Decide what type of adoption you are interested in and speak with different agencies to select the best one to help you with your approach. You will then fill out an extensive application. A supervisor or social worker from the agency will do a background check and a physical standards check to make sure your home is a safe and suitable place for an adopted child. The social worker will then visit you for a “homestudy” to discuss your interests, and to determine what type of child would be best for your family. Placement is based on how well your family can meet a certain child’s needs and how well he or she would fit in with your neighborhood, school system, culture, and family environment. After a waiting period, the agency will send you information about a child who might be a good match. If you agree, the child is placed in your home for six months before you can legally finalize the adoption.
Depending on the approach you choose, there may be additional steps and considerations during the process, including additional paperwork, training programs, or planned visits. Most agencies provide information and orientation sessions, support groups, and education to help you decide which type of adoption is right for you.
Speak with a social worker at the Department of Social Services (DSS) and begin the registration process by calling toll-free at 1-800-KIDS-508 or find local Massachusetts office numbers here.
Legal Considerations and Attorneys
There are several legal issues in an adoption concerning parental rights. Birthparents cannot surrender their parental rights until four days after the birth of the child, and there is always a risk that they may change their minds about the adoption before this time. “Legal risk placements” are situations where a child is placed but one birthparent has not signed a surrender of parental rights (by choice or because the person could not be located). The agency may then try to terminate parental rights through the court with the help of an attorney if a supervisor or social worker believes it is in the child’s best interest. Both the agency and the adoptive parents may have an attorney for representation throughout the process. Attorneys can help adoptive parents coordinate the adoption if the birthparents cannot be located, if they live out of state, or if there are questions about legal rights and expenses.
Fees and Expenses
Fees for an application, a homestudy, post-placement meetings, birthparent expenses, and finalization can run from several hundred to thousands of dollars, but many fees are often waived if you plan to adopt a waiting child. There are loans, grants and subsidies available to help offset adoption fees and expenses.
Massachusetts Family Law Attorneys
Conveniently located on the South Shore in Hanover and Quincy, MA serving Boston and Eastern Massachusetts