The Decision To Adopt
THE DECISION TO ADOPT AND THE ADOPTION PROCESS
THE DECISION TO ADOPT
The decision to adopt is one of the most important decisions you will make in your lifetime. You must decide if you want to make the transition to parenthood. Parenthood is a demanding way of life for a couple or a single adult to undertake. It requires major commitments of time, energy, money, and responsibility. The rewards, however, are immeasurable.
Adoption has been described as the creation of a continuing parent-child relationship not formed by birth. It is in every sense just as “real” a relationship as a biological one. Prospective parents should ask themselves what their reasons are for wanting a child and whether their reasons are valid. Do you want a child for himself or herself or for your own satisfaction? Do you enjoy children, including the responsibilities and obligations they bring? Can you give something of value to a child, not only in a material sense, but in terms of guidance, understanding, discipline, and affection? If you answers to these questions are positive, the next step should be to approach the subject with an open mind and to learn more about the process of adoption, including the social and psychological factors that accompany the decision to adopt. The next step is the actual search for the child, which requires intense involvement on you part. Research has shown that parents may be more committed to their child if they are involved in his or her selection.
The Child Welfare League of American has developed Standards for Adoption Service that are consistent with the adoption chapters of the Code of Iowa and the practices followed by this firm. They are as follows:
- The biological mother should have an opportunity to consider alternatives and should receive help in selecting among them.
- The biological father’s interests should be considered in surrendering his child.
- The welfare of the child and his or her best interests will be the paramount consideration.
- The adoptive parents’ interests and rights will be given due consideration.
- The child has a right to a secure, permanent home and to develop a sense of identity and emotional well-being.
- The adoptive parents have the right to accurate and appropriate information regarding the adoptive child’s family medical history, including any medical and developmental factors that might affect the child’s growth.
- The adoptive parents should have available the help of any professionals who can give them advice, support, and guidance in understanding the special concerns inherent in adoptive parenthood.
RESOLVE is a national non-profit, charitable organization that offers counseling, referral, and support groups for couples with infertility problems or who chose not to birth children. There are several chapters in Iowa, including ones in Cedar Rapids and the Quad Cities. Their goals are to provide information and education to the public and professionals who work with infertility issues. They also provide services to couples regarding infertility. Our firm can provide names of persons connected with this service, as well as information about their functions. Infertility counseling and medical assessment is available through physicians and hospitals in our area. If you need assistance finding a physician to help you, we can provide you with a list of names.
THE ADOPTION PROCESS
The following is a general description of the adoption process as provided by the Iowa Code Chapters 600 and 600A. The process is written in a sequential manner so that you can readily see how it takes place. In addition, an approximate length of time for each step is given so that you can understand the time involved.
- Pre-placement investigation/home study is completed.*
- A suitable child is found.
- Biological parents release custody and consent to the adoption of the child
a. This document is signed not less than seventy-two (72) hours after the birth of the child.
b. This document states the purpose of the release and is grounds for termination of parental rights.
c. The release can be unconditionally revoked by either biological parent within ninety-six (96) hours after signing the release. After the ninety-six (96) hour period has passed, it is very difficult for a birth parent to revoke release of custody.
- Petition to terminate parental rights is filed.
- A termination hearing is held no sooner than one (1) week after the child is born, generally taking place within two (2) to four (4) weeks.
- Adoptive parents receive the child.**
- Petition for adoption is filed by the adoptive parents after the child has been in their home for one-hundred eighty (180) days.
a. A report of expenditures is attached to the adoption procedures. Iowa Code allows adoptive parents to pay only approved payments to or on behalf of a birth parent.
- Post-placement investigation is completed.
Adoption hearing is held.
a. A decision is made, based on the petition and post-placement report.
b. The hearing is usually held about six (6) to eight (8) months after placement.
c. A final decree cannot be made until the child has lived with the adoptive parents for a minimum of one-hundred eighty (180) days.
* The timing of the pre-placement investigation/home study may vary in each case. Consult with your attorney.
** A child may be placed prior to termination of parental rights with the acceptance of certain risks by the adoptive parents. Consult with your attorney about these risks.
The Home Study
The home study, or the pre-placement investigation, is done in your home. It generally involves a series of interviews conducted by a certified investigator who is an experienced social worker trained to work with adoptive couples. The aim of the home study is to provide the information necessary by law about the attitudes and home atmosphere of the prospective parents. This is done primarily through informal discussions in a sensitive, non-threatening manner. The fee for a home study is paid directly to the investigator and it varies. You should contact several investigators to ask about fees.