When an adoption is pending, the prospective adopting parents are screened by the adoption agency or a social service investigator assigned to your case. Certain documents need to be prepared and filed, several interviews will take place, and a there will be a home visit.
A written report with a recommendation for or against the adoption is prepared and forwarded to the court. Some states require the adoptive parents to have temporary custody of the child to be adopted for a stated period of time. The purpose is to monitor the relationship of the child with the adopting parents in the home environment.
Because court procedures and local adoption rules vary from state-to-state, a consultation is usually necessary to ensure the proper procedures are followed. Failure to conform to state or local law may result in delays or in the court's outright refusal to allow the adoption or, worse, create grounds to overturn an adoption.
Relative Preference: Each State
defines “relative” differently, including
relatives by blood, marriage, or adoption
ranging from the first to the fifth degree.
Generally, preference is given to the child’s
grandparents, followed by aunts, uncles, adult
siblings, and cousins. For Indian children,
eight States allow members of the child’s Tribe
to be considered “extended family members” for
placement purposes. In most States, the placing
agency must do an assessment to determine that
the relative is “fit and willing” to provide a
suitable placement for the child, able to ensure
the child’s safety, and able to meet the child’s
needs. Three States require the relative to
complete requirements for licensure as a foster
parent. Illinois and Wisconsin require the
relative to be licensed before he or she can
receive foster care assistance payments.
Approximately 21 States and the District of
Columbia require relatives to undergo a criminal
background check that may include all adult
members of the household.
Alabama requires relatives to undergo a criminal background check.
Birth Parent / Mind Change: The
law spells out clearly how long a birth parent
has to change their mind…5 days after the latest
event (the birth of the child or the signing of
relinquishments). This protects the birth
parents because it gives them a clear window of
five days to withdraw from the adoption and it
protects the adoptive family after that window
is closed. Birth parents decide when they want
that countdown time to begin. A birth parent can
opt to sign their relinquishment papers even
before the child is born. Additionally, the
birth parent can also sign the relinquishment
papers at any point after the child is born.
Regardless of the method taken, the birth
parents are given the five day right to
In those cases that the birth father is unknown or unable to be located, he is given a thirty-day period following the child’s birth to step forward and claim paternity. At the end of thirty days, the Court considers consent to have been given to the adoption. His rights will be terminated.