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A Family Law Attorney in Buffalo, MN Discusses Adoption Options

by | Aug 28, 2019 | Family Law, Firm News

A generation ago, adoption was very rare and often conducted in secret, almost as if the families had something to be ashamed of. Today, adoption is still rare. About one in fifty children in America were adopted. But the days of secret adoptions are over. Now, these occasions are happy milestones for both birth families and adoptive families, at least in most cases.

The rise of the blended family probably did much to lift the veil of secrecy. Stepparent adoptions were almost unheard of in the 1980s, but they may be the most common form of adoption today. If you are looking to expand your family, you have some other options as well. No matter which approach you choose, a family law attorney in Buffalo, MN can handle many of the details for you.

Domestic Agency Adoption

Back in the day, agencies handled almost all the adoptions in Wright County. Today, they are relatively rare. But, they are still a good option in many cases.

The procedure varies, but most families submit applications, and after thorough investigations, the agency places a newborn or older child with the family. Typically, the newborn adoption process is a bit more intricate than the process for adopting an older child.

The good news is that the agency takes care of pretty much everything. That’s also the bad news when it comes to agency adoptions. Many families feel like they have little or no control over the process.

So, a family law attorney in Buffalo, MN may be an important part of the agency adoption process. An attorney represents you and your interests, as opposed to the agency and its interests. An attorney gives you solid advice throughout the process and also serves as a resource person and communication conduit between adopting family and adoption agency.

A Family Law Attorney in Buffalo, MN and Private (or Independent) Adoption

Typically, agency adoptions are always closed adoptions. The adoptive family and birth family have little or no contact. Independent adoptions can be either closed or open. Open adoptions allow and even encourage contact between the two families. Either scenario may be best, depending on the facts and circumstances.

During an independent adoption, a family law attorney in Buffalo, MN takes a much more active role. A lawyer usually connects the two families and facilitates the adoption.

There are still a number of state regulations. There must be a home study, in most cases. Additionally, Minnesota law closely regulates pre-adoption payments. Generally, adoptive families may pay for the birth mother’s medical bills as well as a few weeks of living expenses. But again, the limits are very strict. A few extra dollars, even if the payment was accidental or even fraudulent, could invalidate the adoption.

International Adoptions

The most complex kind of adoption is also the most common kind of adoption in Minnesota. Essentially, international adoption combines agency and private adoptions.

First, the family adopts a child from an overseas adoption agency. The family must comply with all the agency rules. A family law attorney in Buffalo, MN may be even a more important partner in international agency adoptions than in domestic agency adoptions. International adoptions may not involve a language barrier, but there is almost always a cultural barrier.

Next, when the complete family comes home, a Wright County judge must formalize the adoption. Generally, time is extremely limited. Unless a family law attorney in Buffalo, MN has laid all the groundwork and has everything ready to go, including details such as scheduling the court date, there could be major problems.

Stepparent Adoptions

Blended family adoptions are also very common. The process is streamlined, since a stepparent essentially substitutes for one birth parent, and the other birth parent is still in the picture. Generally, Wright County judges waive the social study and other preliminary formalities.

Since children can have only two legal parents, one parent must voluntarily terminate his/her parental rights. Technically, involuntary termination is possible. But judges only involuntarily terminate parental rights in very extreme circumstances.

All the adults need to fully understand the impact of a stepparent adoption. The terminating birth parent no longer has any legal rights in terms of visitation or attending school activities. Furthermore, in the event that the adopting stepparent and birth parent divorce, the adoptive stepparent must pay child support.

If termination and adoption is too big of a step for either the birth or stepparent, a legal name change may be a good alternative. Everyone in the house has the same last name, but a name change does not affect underlying legal rights and responsibilities.

Contact a Diligent Lawyer

If done properly, adoptions usually work out very well for everyone concerned. For a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Buffalo, MN, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.