If you are considering adoption in Utah, you can find an adoption attorney in southern Utah with Ruesch & Reeve. Our adoption attorneys can help assist couples in building their families and future dreams through adoption.
What is adoption?
Adoption is the legal process that creates a permanent parent/child relationship with all its rights and duties while at the same time terminating any previous parent/child relationships. This can happen straight after birth or after the child is already in foster care.
The adoption process can seem incredibly daunting, so the first step is to find an experienced adoption attorney in southern Utah to help you through the process.
Ruesch & Reeve’s adoption attorneys have extensive experience and passion to help couples and birth parents navigate the complex adoption process. They will guide you through every step along the way while helping you understand your rights and responsibilities.
The attorney’s focus is to minimize your stress and to ensure the best interests of the child in any situation.
What entails adoption?
All states require adoptive parents to follow their state rules and guidelines. The Utah Adoption Act lays out Utah’s requirements on who can adopt and who can be adopted.
No matter your and your partner’s situation, whether it be a traditional marriage, same-sex marriage, a stepparent or single parent, an adoption attorney in southern Utah can help you navigate the adoption process.
Ruesch & Reeve provides services for the following adoptive situations:
- Private and agency adoptions involving an infant or older child
- Out-of-state adoptions
- Foster care adoptions
- Grandparent and other relative adoptions
- Single parent adoptions
- Contested adoptions
Basic steps of adoption
Adoption of a child under the age of 18 will have two distinct phases. The first phase will address the rights of the birth parents and other interested parties. The second phase gathers documentation for a judge to “finalize” or complete an adoption.
Once these phases are completed, a judge will sign the adoption order that legally creates a relationship between the child and the new parent/parents.
There are other things to consider while searching for an adoption attorney in Southern Utah:
- Adoptions in Utah typically go through district court, with few exceptions.
- Consent must be obtained from the birth parents, unless the child is over 18 or parental rights have been terminated beforehand. In addition, home studies and background checks must be completed, as well as any other issues between all relevant parties.
- The attorney files a Petition for Adoption plus any other necessary documents with the court.
- The court will typically schedule a finalization hearing after the child has lived with the prospective parents for at least six months. During the hearing, the new parents and judge will sign documents and a Decree of Adoption will be issued.
- Your lawyer can help you with the steps to obtain a new birth certificate and social security card for your child.
If you are a Utah resident seeking to adopt, you can consult with an adoption attorney in southern Utah at Ruesch & Reeve.
People have several reasons to adopt including:
- To give a child a loving home
- Struggling with infertility
- Want to expand their family
- Want to change a child’s life for the better
- Helping a family member who lost custody of their child
Types of Adoption
Once you have decided you would like to adopt or you are the one placing a child up for adoption, you need to determine what type of adoption you want to proceed with.
- Private adoption
This is the typical adoption scenario when people think of adoption. It takes place between two families: the birth family and the adoptive family. The families either find one another on their own, have previously known each other, or the match occurs with the help of an agency, attorney, or referral. This tends to be the most expensive adoption option.
One example of a private adoption is a private domestic infant adoption. The scenario consists of you deciding on an agency or an attorney to work with to help match you with a birth family. You complete the basic application or agreement. A home study is conducted which includes fingerprinting, background checks, and medical history. You will also need to attend any necessary training or education, create a profile for the birth families to look at, and then wait for a family to choose you. After the child is born, they are placed in your home and another set of home visits takes place. A few months later, the adoption is finalized, and the child is legally recognized as part of your family.
- Open or Closed Adoption
All parties involved will need to choose how much contact they are comfortable with one another during and after the adoption (how open or how closed they want the process to be). There are varying levels between the two sides, and the parties coordinate with one another (either directly or through intermediaries) on the manner and level each are comfortable with.
A closed adoption means the agency or attorney provides total confidentiality between the birth parent/parents and the adoptive family. All communication between the parties goes through the agency or attorney. Once the adoption is complete, any identifying information about the birth parents are sealed by the court and are not released without a court order.
Open adoptions allow some interaction between the birth family, adopted family, and adopted child. With the best interest of the child in mind, all parties decide on the level and style of communication they are most comfortable with. Parties can decide how much identifying information is disclosed about them, such as names, where they reside, and type of work they do, for example. Parties can also decide how they will communicate with one another, which can range from in-person visits or simple emails. They can even decide whether they prefer to communicate with intermediaries (usually through the adoption agency).
Since each adoption is different, it’s always a good option to consult with an adoption attorney in southern Utah to help figure the level of communication you are comfortable with during your adoption process.
- Special needs adoption
The circumstances of a special needs adoption may include drug or alcohol exposure, premature births, abuse for older children, and medical conditions.
- Transracial adoption
Transracial adoption refers to adopting a child of a different race from the adoptive parents. This type of adoption adds a few more things to consider such as: will you learn and incorporate elements of the adoptive child’s culture and ethnicity? Are you willing to make sure they have people of that ethnicity in their lives growing up?
- International adoption
Several agencies work with other countries for international adoption. Most international adoptions remain closed and have limited family and medical history available. This process tends to take longer between match and placement, so it may be difficult to adopt an infant. In addition to working with Utah’s adoption guidelines, adoptive parents will need to work with both US immigration guidelines and the child’s birth country’s adoption guidelines.
- Embryo adoption
Embryo adoption is a lesser-known option. Families who go through IVF or freeze embryos for other reasons may not need their remaining fertilized embryos. They can choose to allow other people to adopt those embryos.
Embryo adoption is typically less expensive than conventional IVF as the costs incurred to create, harvest, and grow embryos have already been paid by the adoptive household. The laws governing embryo adoption differ from adoption laws, so if you are considering embryo adoption, it’s a good idea to speak to an attorney to help with any questions you might have.
- Foster care
Children are placed in foster care if they have been abandoned by their parents or the parents were deemed unfit to care for them. The foster care system’s priority is to find the family best suited to care for the foster child, whether it’s a relative of the child or an unrelated family willing to take the foster child. In some instances, the state decides that it’s in the best interest of the child to be adopted by the foster family or another adoptive family.
If you choose to adopt through foster care, the state may have several more rules and restrictions than other adoption pathways. They might include larger matters like rules on parenting or discipline and smaller matters like posted fire escape plans. In addition, the state may provide subsidies if the adoptive child has special needs that require additional assistance.
- Stepchild adoption
Stepchild adoption is when one parent of a blended family adopts the stepchildren of their new spouse. It will still include a fair amount of legal work and attorneys needed. You will also still need the legal consent of the other biological parent, if applicable.
It’s important that you discuss all your options with an adoption attorney in southern Utah. Your final decision will depend on what works best for your unique situation.