If you have made the decision to adopt, it’s a very exciting time in your life, and you probably cannot wait to get started. After all, bringing a new child into your family is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Understanding a bit more about basic Alabama adoption law can help make the path forward more manageable. If you are ready to adopt, consult with an experienced Huntsville adoption lawyer today.
Who Is Eligible to Adopt in Alabama?
At the most fundamental level, nearly any adult is eligible to adopt in Alabama. You don’t have to be married to adopt, and if you’re married, you and your spouse can file as a couple. You cannot be discriminated based on your age alone, and the State of Alabama doesn’t deny same-sex couples the right to adopt – but state statutes also fail to directly address this issue. To successfully adopt, you will need to meet certain criteria that include:
- You must be a United States citizen who is at least 19 years old.
- If you are married, you must have been married for at least three years, and one of you must be a United States citizen.
- Your home must be adequate to house your adoptive child.
- You must be reasonably healthy and have the capacity to meet the needs of the child.
- You – and anyone else over the age of 19 who lives in your household – must pass a background check that includes a criminal history.
These are the very basic elements that must apply before you can adopt in Alabama.
Your Adoption Home Study
If you are proceeding with adoption in Alabama, you’ll be required to participate in a home study. Alabama, like every state, wants to ensure that it entrusts children’s upbringings to individuals and couples who are suitable for this critical undertaking. As such, the state conducts a mandatory home study before every adoption (except adoptions made by relatives). The home study basics include the following components:
- The state will make a determination about your suitability for adopting the child in question – this includes determining if your home is suitable.
- The state will look into why the birth parents – if living – wish to be relieved of the care, support, and guardianship of their child.
- The state will take whether the birth parents abandoned the child or are unsuited to retaining custody for another reason into consideration.
- The state will investigate whether there are any decrees, judgments, or orders that relate to the child being adopted or that relate to any children of the petitioners.
- The state will assess whether the child being adopted owns any property.
- The state will assess the medical histories (physical and mental) of both the child being adopted and his or her biological parents. The petitioners will be provided with this history before the decree of adoption can be entered.
- The state will conduct criminal background investigations on the petitioners.
- The state will consider the overall cost of adoption relative to the petitioners’ incomes.
- The state will take any other circumstances it deems pertinent to the placement at hand into consideration.
The purpose of the home study is to provide the court with a report on the suitability of the petitioners to adopt from a neutral party’s professional perspective. The process is exceedingly thorough for obvious reasons, but you shouldn’t let this fact dissuade you from your plans to adopt. If you are ready to bring a new child into your family and can provide him or her with a safe and loving home, your home study will bear this out. Further, an experienced Huntsville adoption lawyer will skillfully advocate on behalf of your successful adoption.
Alabama’s Adoption Laws for Advertising
In the State of Alabama, there are laws against individuals or agencies advertising the willingness to adopt, the offer of assistance in placing a child, or the offer of payment to birth parents. In fact, no one involved can receive compensation for placing a child or for procuring an adoptive family.
As an adoptive family, however, you may well be financially responsible for specific costs, including:
- The birth mother’s medical and hospital expenses related to the birth
- Any fees for the birth mother’s counseling
- Any legal fees related to the adoption
- Any adoption agency fees
- Any applicable living expenses for the birth mother
Before your adoption is finalized, you’ll be required to file a detailed report of all the adoption-related expenses you paid. This component of adoption can become very complicated very quickly, and it is in your best interest to work closely with a seasoned adoption attorney to help ensure your adoption chances aren’t tripped up by important details such as these.
Finalizing Your Adoption
If you are moving forward with adoption, it’s an exciting time, but it can also be a stressful time. After all, until your adoption is finalized, your ability to fold your new child into your family’s loving arms permanently hangs in the balance. In order to finalize your adoption and make it permanent, you’ll need to reach the following milestones:
- The adoptive child must live with you for 60 days before the adoption can be finalized – unless the court chooses to waive this requirement based on good cause.
- After your adoption is final, there is a one-year statute of limitations in which the adoption can be challenged.
These are put in place to help protect children in the adoption system, which is obviously of paramount importance. While reaching these steps may seem frightening – considering everything you stand to potentially lose – if you provide the adoptive child with the loving and safe home that he or she deserves and you have experienced legal counsel on your side, you have an excellent chance of successfully and permanently adopting your new addition to the family.
Adoption Concerns? An Experienced Huntsville Adoption Lawyer Can Help
Adopting a child allows you a thrilling opportunity, but adoption is also a legal process that is best served by an experienced adoption lawyer. The dedicated legal team at Cloud, Ryan & Rouse in Huntsville are committed to helping you adopt successfully, so please don’t hesitate to contact us online or call us at 256-801-1000 for a free consultation today.