What is an agency adoption?
An agency adoption is when parents adopt through a licensed private adoption agency. The adoptive parents and birth parents can meet and get to know each other.
Birth parents who work with an agency to place their child, must give up their rights as parents to the agency. Then, the agency is legally responsible for the care and custody of the child until the child is adopted.
In an agency adoption either the Department of Social Services or a licensed adoption agency asks the Court for permission for the adoption. This process usually takes about 6 months to complete
What is a licensed adoption agency?
It is an agency that is licensed by the Department of Social Services. The agency is legally responsible for the child until the adoption is final. The agency also documents when the biological parents give up their parental rights. (This is called relinquishment of parental rights.)
The adoptive parents usually take care of the child during the adoption process. But, the agency can take the child away from the adoptive parents at any time before the adoption is finalized.
What if a birth parent does not give up their parental rights?
The agency will ask a lawyer (usually the adoptive parents lawyer) to ask the Court to end the birth parents rights.
Can the adoptive parents get information about the child and the birth parents?
Before the adoption, the adoptive parents will get a report on the childs medical background.
The birth parents may but do not have to give a blood sample. If they do, a state-licensed laboratory will store it for 30 years after the adoption. The sample cannot be used to identify any party to the adoption. It is only kept so the adoptive parents or the adopted child can do DNA testing later, after the adoption is final.
Can the Department of Social Services or a licensed adoption agency recommend to not grant an adoption?
Yes. If the adoptive parents have a criminal history (other than minor traffic violations) or an on-going substance abuse problem, the agency may not recommend the adoption to the Court.
These circumstances don't always make the adoptive parents ineligible for adoption. The agency will review each case individually. They will be guided by what is best for the child.
The agency cannot refuse to recommend an adoption based solely on the race, color or national origin of the adoptive parents or the child involved.
The Court does not have to follow the agency's recommendation. The Court will make its decision on what is best for the child.
Do all adoptive parents in an agency adoption have to do a home study?
Yes. The home study includes:
A home visit
Letters of reference from people who know the prospective adoptive parents
A letter from a medical professional to confirm the adoptive parents do not have any life-threatening or life-shortening illnesses
Confirmation of employment status and income, and
Finger printing to check if the adoptive parents have ever been convicted of a crime other than a minor traffic violation.
How long does an agency adoption take?
The adoptive parents must wait 180 days after the child is placed in their home before the adoption can be finalized. This is so the licensed adoption agency can do a post-placement monitoring of the child in the new home (usually 2 home visits) and get the documentation that the birth parents have given up their parental rights.
How is a licensed agency adoption different than a private (independent) adoption?
A licensed adoption agency documents when the biological parents give up their parental rights. (This is called relinquishment of parental rights.)
Unlike an independent (private) adoption, the agency does not have to wait 30 days once the relinquishment is signed.
In an agency adoption, you must complete the home study before the child is placed in the adoptive parent's home.
How long does it take to file the relinquishment?
The agency typically waits 24 hours to 30 days before filing the relinquishment. This is the time period the birth parent has to let the adoption agency know when the agency can file the relinquishment.
When the agency files the relinquishment with the State, it becomes final. The only way the birth parents can withdraw it is by getting the adoption agency to agree to do so, or by asking the Court to make an order.