Adoption Attorney in Birmingham, AL

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We are highly experienced in all types of adoptions, including relative and stepparent adoptions, private adoptions, and adoptions through the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR). No matter which route you choose to expand your family, we are here to ensure you understand the process, accurately complete the paperwork, and avoid preventable hiccups. By hiring an adoption attorney in Birmingham, AL, you increase the chance of having a successful adoption. To learn about the steps of adoption, contact us at Alabama Divorce & Family Lawyers, LLC. You can reach a Birmingham family lawyer from our firm online or by calling (205) 255-1155.

How an Adoption Attorney Can Help You

A lawyer is not inherently required for the adoption process. However, it can be extremely helpful to have an experienced professional guide you through this process. If you intend to go through a private adoption without the assistance of DHR or an agency, then it is even more vital you work with an attorney to ensure you adhere to the law. An adoption lawyer from Alabama Divorce & Family Lawyers, LLC can:

  • Help you determine whether adoption is the right path for you;
  • Explain Alabama’s adoption laws;
  • If necessary, guide you toward a reputable adoption agency;
  • Prepare you for the adoption process;
  • Represent your interests during the home study/pre-placement investigation, particularly if DHS or an agency has concerns;
  • Handle obtaining necessary consent for the adoption;
  • Handle the court filings; and
  • Represent you during court hearings.

For adoption in Alabama, the process is formal. You must adhere to the steps and rules necessary to have a child placed in your home and then to have the court approve and finalize the adoption. This can be difficult to navigate on your own, which is why we recommend hiring an Alabama adoption attorney.

Alabama Adoption Laws

Alabama’s many adoption laws are found in Title 26, Chapters 10, 10A, 10B, 10C, and 10D. Ala. Code 16-10A-1 through 26-10A-38 is the Alabama Adoption Code and it controls the adoption process within the state. It outlines who may adopt, who may be adopted, the legal process, and much more. There are many adoption requirements you must adhere to in order to adopt a child. The most basic requirements are your eligibility to adopt and the child’s eligibility to be adopted.

Adoptive Parents’ Eligibility

Ala. Code 26-10A-5 states that any adult person or spouses together can adopt a child. Based on state law, there are no other requirements. However, if you work through the Alabama DHR or through a private adoption service, there are typically additional eligibility requirements. The Alabama DHR states that to adopt:

  • You must be at least 19-years-old.
  • If married, the marriage must be of at least three-years in duration.
  • If married, one of the spouses must be a U.S. citizen.
  • You must have adequate housing and personal space for the child or children to be adopted.
  • You must be healthy enough to care for a child.
  • You must be willing to undergo a thorough background check.

Also, if you wish to adopt internationally, the child’s country of origin may have requirements in regard to your sexuality, marital status, education, income, and religion.

Adoptee Child’s Eligibility

For a minor to be adopted, you must obtain consent from the child’s legal parents or from the state, if the child’s parents lost their parental rights. You always need the consent of the child’s birth mother, unless her parental rights were voluntarily or involuntarily terminated. In many situations, you also will need consent of the child’s biological or putative father. Consent by the child’s parents is not needed if the child was abandoned. If the child you wish to adopt is at least 14 years old, you must also obtain the adolescent’s consent unless the court finds the minor lacks mental capacity.

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Types of Adoption

There are many forms of adoption you may choose to go through to expand your family:

There are also open versus closed adoptions. In a closed adoption, once your adoption of the child is final, the birth parents no longer have any access to the child. They do not have any rights to communicate or visit with the child. In an open adoption, the adoptive and biological parents agree to keep in touch. These types of relationships vary greatly. Some biological parents remain in contact with the adopted child throughout their life. Other biological parents simply receive updates and pictures.

How to Start the Adoption Process

At Alabama Divorce & Family Lawyers, LLC, we recommend you begin the adoption process by gathering information. Before you decide adoption is right for you and your family, you should learn more about the legalities of adoption, types of adoption, and the adoption process. An adoption lawyer in Birmingham, AL can answer many of your questions.

Steps to Adoption

If you believe adoption is the best way to grow your family, the next step is to reach out to the Alabama DHR or a private agency you are interested in working with. Typically, you can call or submit an online inquiry with DHR or an agency. You will be required to submit an application, and if this is approved, then you can move forward with the next steps.

DHR requires you to go through Group Preparation and Selection (GPS). This program is intended to educate you as a potential foster or adoptive parent. You must attend 10 meetings, which totals 30 hours. If you are working with a private agency instead of DHR, it may have certain education and training requirements. You must go through the home study process. If you are adopting through DHR, then the department will conduct the home study. If you are going through an agency, an individual licensed by the DHR may conduct the investigation.

Home studies can also be performed by licensed social workers. During a home study, a social worker or other licensed professional will interview you and other household members. They will conduct a background check on you and other household members. They will make at least one visit to your home, or possibly more. They’ll also interview at least two references. The purpose of all of this is to determine if you are a suitable individual or family to adopt, and if so, the best match for your family and a child.

After the application and home study process, if you are approved, then you must wait to be matched with a child. The amount of time you must wait depends on a number of factors, including the characteristics you are looking for in a child. Once a child has been placed in your home, the process is not done. Within 45 days of the placement, a post-placement investigation is conducted to observe the child in your home. If, after three months, the placement is going well, you can petition your county Probate Court to sanction your adoption.

If you are working with DHS, you must obtain the department’s Consent to Adopt. If you are privately adopting a child, you must obtain Consent to Adopt from the lawful parents. Once the adoption is finalized by the court, you are the child’s legal parents and can obtain a new birth certificate for your child.

Contact Alabama Divorce & Family Lawyers, LLC for Guidance With the Adoption Process

Whether you are considering adoption or are confident it is the right thing for your family, contact an adoption attorney in Birmingham, AL soon. At Alabama Divorce & Family Lawyers, LLC, you can obtain all of the legal services necessary for a smooth adoption process. Our family law attorneys will do everything we can to help you grow your family. If you would rather speak to an adoption lawyer, call us at (205) 255-1155 or contact us online.