Types of Adoption
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Overview of Different Types of Adoption
Bouneff, Chally & Koh assists in all kinds of adoptions, as long as the adoptive parents are committed to
providing a loving home and good life for the adoptee and are deemed able to do so through a home
In an Open Adoption, the adoptive parents and child know the identity of the birth mother,
and the birth mother and adopted child have some degree of contact throughout their lives.
The degree of openness varies based on all parties' wishes, but usually includes visits. Open
adoptions may be arranged with the assistance of an attorney or through an adoption agency.
In a Closed Adoption, the birth mother does not have any contact with the adopted child after
the adoption is completed, and sometimes remains anonymous to the adoptive parents before
the birth as well. While we strongly recommend some degree of openness, we do assist in
closed adoptions. Closed adoptions may be arranged with the assistance of an attorney or
through an adoption agency.
A Stepparent Adoption is the adoption of a child by the married spouse of the child's biological
parent. These adoptions arise from a desire to legally recognize and protect an existing family relationship,
rather than to create a new one. Adoption attorneys play a central role in stepparent adoptions
because the process is focused on the execution and filing of legal documents with the court.
A Second Parent Adoption is the adoption of a child by the unmarried partner of the child's
biological parent. Second parent adoptions allow same-sex couples to share legal responsibility
for their children in states where gay marriage is not yet legal. They also allow unmarried
straight couples to share legal responsibility for their children. These adoptions arise from
a desire to legally recognize and protect an existing family relationship rather than to create a new one.
Adoption attorneys play a central role in second parent adoptions because the process is
focused on the execution and filing of legal documents with the court.
In a Single Parent Adoption, one person adopts and accepts sole responsibility for a child. A
single parent adoption may be open or closed, and can be arranged with the assistance of an
attorney or through an adoption agency.
In an Adult Adoption, an individual or couple adopts someone who is over the age of 18. All
parties must consent to the adoption, including the adoptee. Adoption attorneys play a central
role in adult adoptions because the process is focused on the execution and filing of legal
documents with the court.
In a Relative Adoption, an individual or couple adopts a child who is biologically related to them.
A birth parent may request that a relative adopt the child, or the birth parents may be deceased
or not present. Adoption attorneys play a central role in relative adoptions because the process
is focused on the execution and filing of legal documents with the court.
In an Adoption in a Surrogacy or Gestational Carrier Arrangement, a surrogate enters into
a contract to carry a child whom she will relinquish to the intended parents after the birth.
Depending on the case, parentage may be established before or after the birth via adoption,
pre-birth paternity proceedings, or a declaratory judgment. Attorneys play a central role in
surrogacy agreements, whether they are arranged independently or through a surrogacy
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Independent Adoptions versus Agency Adoptions
Bouneff, Chally & Koh provides a full range of services for people conducting independent adoptions. In
addition, we represent adoptive parents working with agencies by finalizing their adoptions or helping
when legal issues arise. We also represent and assist adoption agencies.
- In an Independent Adoption, adoptive parents and birth parents work with separate attorneys
throughout the process to plan and execute their adoption. The birth parents select an adoptive
family and relinquish their child directly to them. Independent adoptions may offer greater
flexibility and lower overall costs than agency adoptions.
In a Private Agency Adoption, the birth parents relinquish the child directly to the adoption
agency, which then places the child with an adoptive family. The birth parents typically select
the adoptive family. The birth parents' interests are usually represented by the agency instead of
an attorney, but the adoptive parents will still need to be represented by an attorney for the finalization
process and for any other legal issues that arise. Private adoption agencies are licensed and regulated by
the state. Agencies may differ in their religious and political philosophies, policies on openness, fee
structures, and qualifications for both adoptive and birth parents.
A Public Agency Adoption is conducted through a government-run state agency that finds homes
for children in their care. Public agencies may specialize in placing older or "special needs"
children. These children are usually taken into state care when the court has terminated the
rights of their biological parents, often in cases of abuse, neglect, or substance abuse. The public
agency in Oregon is the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS); in Washington, it is the
Children's Administration division of the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS).
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Interstate and International Adoptions
Adopting Across State Lines
When adoptive parents and birth parents live in different states, non-relative adoptive parents
must adhere to strict legislation governing the transportation of children for adoption across
state lines. The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) has been enacted in
all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and requires approval from both the sending and the
receiving states. We assist clients with all stages of interstate adoptions.
Many U.S. adoption agencies have established programs with countries around the world to
place children of varying ages with families in the United States. Adopting a child from countries
such as China and Vietnam can be an appealing option for adoptive parents because of
the high numbers of children awaiting homes in such countries.
However, international adoptions can be more restrictive and complicated than domestic ones,
especially in countries that are party to the Hague Convention. There are stricter eligibility
requirements for parents adopting internationally, and extensive documentation and procedural
requirements at the agency, U.S. government, and foreign government levels. Additionally,
children adopted from foreign countries may have unknown backgrounds, including medical
histories and drug and alcohol exposure that could result in health risks or developmental delays
not apparent at the time of adoption.
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