Expanding your family through adoption is an exciting opportunity. However, the adoption process can be lengthy, complex, and stressful. Each state has rules and restrictions on who can adopt, who can be adopted, and other requirements. Depending on the type of adoption, procedures and processes may vary. Continue reading to learn more about the different kinds of adoptions in Idaho.
Infant adoptions are the most common domestic adoption in the private sector. Adoption agencies and adoption attorneys commonly pair families seeking adoption and prospective birth mothers during the mother's pregnancy. Often, the birth mother will invite the adoptive family to be at the hospital for the birth to allow the family to bond with the child shortly after delivery. However, before the adoptive parents leave the hospital with the infant, they must complete a home study. In addition, the birth mother and birth father must provide a social and medical history form. The hospital also provides medical records from prenatal care and delivery to the adoptive family.
A Child with Special Needs Adoption
There is always a high demand for adoptive parents committed to parenting a child with "special needs." "Special needs" refer to characteristics that make a child more difficult to place and can include risk factors such as disability, age, racial or ethnic background, or other characteristics. The first step in adopting a child with special needs is choosing a licensed public or private adoption agency. Public agencies typically have more children available, more flexible eligibility requirements, and faster placement. In addition, the adoptive parents need to obtain and contemplate the child's medical information as much as possible. Adopting a child with special needs requires proper planning and research concerning the child's background before adoption. It is also essential to work with an attorney to update your estate plan and address guardianship and long-term financial support for the child before they reach the age of 18.
Private (or independent) adoptions are when a birth parent selects the adoptive parents and places the child directly with them. In Idaho, a birth parent can sign a consent that will allow the court to grant custody to the adoptive parents. The adoptive parent's attorney typically facilitates the private adoption. In addition, the attorney may be responsible for arranging counseling and legal services for the birth mother and father. The attorney's role in a private adoption is much more significant than in a foster or agency adoption. Unlike a foster or agency adoption, prospective adoptive parents are free to choose and hire a qualified home study provider on their own. Their attorney will typically assist them in this decision by providing them with a list of referrals. The benefit of working with an adoption attorney directly through the adoption process is to minimize the risks.
Interstate adoption is a procedure in which the child lives in a different state than the adoptive family. Interstate adoption has special rules creating challenges and legal hurdles for adoptive parents. The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children ("ICPC") applies to all interstate adoptions, except placements made with close family members and stepparents. The ICPC requires that the sending state provides a guarantee of the child's assigned legal and financial protection and allows the prospective receiving state the opportunity to confirm or deny the adoptive placement. In addition, the ICPC requires a home study of the adoptive family and an evaluation of the interstate placement. ICPC also ensures that the parties involved in the adoption process follow the sending and receiving states' applicable laws.
Adoption laws vary from state to state, and issues may arise in your interstate adoption if the two states have widely divergent laws. Children placed privately for adoption can generally return home with their adoptive parents within 7 – 10 business days from the birth mother's execution of her consent to adoption, sometimes sooner. Before the adoptive family can leave the sending state, the adoption entity must submit the ICPC paperwork to the sending state's ICPC office. After the sending state has approved the adoption, the ICPC office would then forward all the paperwork to the receiving state's ICPC office. Once the receiving state approves, the ICPC office notifies the family that they can return home.
In foster adoptions, the state department of health and welfare has stepped in because of grave concerns about the biological parents' ability to take care of the child. In Idaho, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW) establishes a dependency and places the child with a licensed foster family. If The parents cannot remedy the problem, the state will terminate their rights. The foster family can then petition to adopt the child. The State Attorney General takes care of the legal process of terminating parental rights, but the adoptive parents' attorney handles the finalization phase.
The adoptive parent(s) must file the Petition for Adoption under a separate court case number than the one used for the dependency and termination. The adoptive parent(s) can file the Petition in any county in the state.
Relative (kinship) Adoption is when an eligible family member adopts a minor child because they cannot safely remain in the care of their biological parents. Relative adoptions are not exclusively to individuals biologically related to the child. Idaho recognizes individuals close to the children who can maintain family or cultural connections as "fictive kin." When a relative adopts a child, they establish a legal parent-child relationship. Adoption affords them all legal protections, including child support, the succession of property upon parents' death, and other state laws. Relative adoptions require the state to terminate the biological parent's rights and the adoption finalized.
Stepparent adoption is when a stepparent steps in and adopts their stepchildren. There are two categories of stepparent adoption; (1) termination stepparent adoptions and (2) non-termination stepparent adoptions. Termination requires legal proceedings outside the adoption proceedings to remove the existing parent and child relationship. This option is most common in neglect, abuse, incarceration, or proof of unfit parenting. Non-termination stepparent adoptions take place when the biological parent consents to the adoption. When the stepchild is over 14, they must also provide written consent to the adoption.
Grandparent adoption is where the biological grandparents step in and legally assume the role of the parent's in their grandchildren's lives. In situations where the biological parents have been absent, the grandparents often step in and provide care long before the courts are involved. Just as in many of the other forms of adoption in Idaho, the biological parent's rights must be terminated. In cases where there isn't abuse from the biological parents, grandparents are encouraged to maintain a positive relationship between the child a parent.
While same-sex adoption became legal throughout all 50 states in 2016, same-sex couples may still face unique challenges. Under Idaho Code Ann. § 16-1501, any adult can petition to adopt. Idaho does not have any regulations that explicitly prohibit LGBTQ individuals from petitioning to adopt. Since same-sex marriage is recognized nationwide, LGBTQ couples are able to adopt jointly under Idaho Code Ann. § 16-1503. The adoption process is not different from many listed above.
While couple adoptions are the majority, it is recognized in the Courts today that a single parent can also successfully raise a child. In Idaho, there are not any marriage requirements for adoption. If that single parent is self-sufficient without federal assistance and can prove good faith to the Courts, they are an adoption candidate.
An attorney is not required to adopt a child in the state of Idaho, but they make it easier by doing the legwork and making the process a bit less complicated. Let our attorneys assist you in providing a loving home for a child. In addition, they can answer your questions about the adoption process and help you identify and overcome potential pitfalls before they occur. Call our adoption attorneys today!