November is National Adoption Month, and we wanted to kick off our posts this month dealing with the topic of adoption while going through the divorce process. Jill Duffy outlines in an article in Dads Divorce the obstacle that divorce can be when trying to adopt a child.
There are many types of adoption, and how a divorce affects the adoption depends on the rights of the biological parents and the court’s decision that approves the adoption.
- Consensual adoptions: Birth parents voluntarily relinquish their parental rights and agree to give their child to the adoptive parents. If the consent was based upon the idea that their child would be going to a married, two-parent home, the parents may have the right to revoke consent to the adoption if a divorce occurs or is in process before the adoption is finalized.
- Foster care adoption: the rights of the child’s biological parents have been terminated or will be terminated by the state, and they have no legal ground to contest an adoption. During a foster care adoption the court that is approving the adoption has the final say regarding how a divorce will impact the adoption. The court must consider the best interests of the child and may allow the adoption to take place, allow one parent to adopt the child, or terminate the adoption completely.
- Stepparent adoptions: Many stepparents wish to adopt children of their new spouse. Stepparent adoption is usually an expedited process if the other biological parent consents or has no legal rights to the children. When a divorce occurs between the biological parent and the stepparent hoping to adopt, it is likely the court will not approve the adoption. All states require that the stepparent be married to the biological parent for a stepparent adoption to occur.
- International adoption: The laws of the country the child is being adopted from determine this process. Many countries won’t adopt children to single parents and may cancel a pending adoption if a divorce is filed. Other countries will not adopt to parents who have had previous divorces.
A pending divorce during an adoption has the potential to derail the entire adoption process. Work with an experienced attorney to make the divorce and adoption process as easy as it can be.