Adoption is a wonderful way to grow your family. However, adoption involves many important legal, financial, and emotional considerations that you should plan for when beginning the adoption process. Below are seven important considerations to make if you’re planning to adopt in the State of Kentucky.
1. The adoption process can take some time.
Adoptions involve clearing many legal requirements. If the adopted child is being adopted from another state or via international adoption, the process can sometimes take years. Adoptions of orphaned or special needs children, or adoption of children through a public agency, might move more quickly.
2. There can be significant costs involved.
If you are adopting through a state foster care agency, the fees you pay for the adoption itself might not be high, though there will be additional costs. Private adoptions, on the other hand, can run up to $60,000, after accounting for the birth mother’s medical expenses, costs associated with a home inspection, and fees paid to the adoption agency. These costs are generally highest when adopting an American, Caucasian child.
3. Tax credits may be available.
For non-stepparent adoptive parents with adjusted gross incomes below a certain level, the government offers a Federal Adoption Tax Credit. If eligible, the adopting parents could receive a dollar-for-dollar credit against income tax liability in the amount of your adoption fees and certain other expenses associated with the adoption. Speak to an attorney to see if you may be eligible for this credit.
4. Termination of parental rights can take place two ways, one of which allows for up to 20 days for a birth mother to change her mind.
In order to terminate parental rights of the birth parents, parties can either have birth parents sign a Voluntary and Informed Consent form, or opt to file a Petition for Voluntary Termination with a Kentucky state court. When filing a Petition with a court, provided that all other criteria have been met and the Petition is approved, the termination of parental rights is immediate. However, a Voluntary and Informed Consent form allows the birth parents 20 days to change their minds and rescind the termination of rights.
5. Adoption of children born to certain parents, such as Native Americans or members of the military, involve overcoming additional legal hurdles.
The Indian Child Welfare Act mandates that, if a child up for adoption is either a tribal member or is eligible for tribal membership, the tribe in question must be notified prior to adoption and may assert jurisdiction over the adoption, so that the action is transferred to a tribal court. A diligent attorney will research whether the child you wish to adopt may have any Native American ancestry, in order to ensure compliance with this law. If the birth father is an on-duty member of the Armed Forces, an adoption may be put on hold for 90 days or more under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, so that the father may assert or decline to assert parental rights in the adoption proceeding.
6. You may wish to consider an open adoption, which involves securing additional consent from the birth mother.
Increasingly, adoptive parents are opting for open adoptions, which allow birth parents and the adopted children to keep in contact as the child grows up, and also allows adopting parents a means to obtain valuable information about the medical history of the biological family. In the state of Kentucky, open adoptions are verbal agreements between the birth and adoptive parents, but they are not legally binding arrangements. However, if the parties agree, the birth mother can sign a “Biological Parent Consent Form,” which allows the birth mother to consent to her records and/or personal information being made available to an adopted child once the child reaches 21 years of age.
7. Adopting a child may result in a revocation of your will.
If adoptive parents have created a last will and testament prior to adoption that does not account for future children, that will may become invalid after you adopt a child. An attorney assisting you with the adoption itself may be able to update your will to account for the additions to your family.
If you are considering adopting a child, don’t try and do it without legal representation. Contact Northern Kentucky attorneys Greta Hoffman & Associates for a consultation and a guiding hand through the complex adoption process. Our attorneys are experienced in the nuances and complexities of the adoption process, and serve all areas of Northern Kentucky, including Bellevue, Fort Thomas, Newport, Petersburg, Boone County, Kenton County, and Gallatin County. Call (859) 371-2227 to schedule an appointment.