Adoption in America
Adoption, the legal action of taking another person’s child and bringing them up as one’s own. Commonly adoption has touched a lot of individuals lives, including myself and my families. According to adoption network website, 135,000 children are adopted in the United States each year. Each child that is adopted goes through a lengthy legal process whether they are being adopted out of foster care, directly from the birth parents, or through their legal guardian. The process of adoption is rewarding, strenuous, and financial difficult for everyone involved though it is not meant for everyone.
The Texas law state that any adult (18 years old) may adopt, though individual adoption agencies might have their own age requirement. There are no adoption laws in Texas about same-sex couples or single parents wanting to adopt. Any prospective parent hoping to adopt must be approved by a Texas adoption home study. This includes Texas criminal background checks, home visits, interviews and more.
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How it works
The legal process of adoption does very by each state, but the following is the process through the state of Texas. The first step of adoption is the biological parents must give up their parental rights of the child. It is important for the birth parents to know the different types of adoptions they can choose from. A closed adoption would be having no interaction between the adoptive parents and the birth parents, usually that does not include any medical history. An open adoption will allow the biological parents to actively choose the adoptive parents and possibly continuing a relationship after the child has been adopted. If an open adoption is agreed upon even in writing it is not legally binding, the adoptive parents do not have to follow through with the agreement. There are options to choose from of either working through a lawyer or through an adoption agency. In Texas, the adoptive families are responsible for prenatal care, pregnancy, and birth expenses of the birth mother and child, living expenses to support the birth mother during pregnancy, and the birth parents’ attorney’s fees.
All expenses paid by to adoptive parents to the birth mother must be approved through a Texas judge. A part of the adoption application the adoptive parents will have a home study to evaluate and determine if they are fit to be parents. The final steps of the adoption process will begin after the baby is born. This will consist of a judge looking over the case, analyzing the adoptive parent’s application, and the request of the birth parents to give up their parental rights. Usually the adoptive parents will be present during the hearing, the birth parents are less likely to appear in court. They will most likely be working with their lawyer or agency and send the paperwork directly over rather than make an appearance.
The American Adoptions website really broke down the costs of adoption and what the money is going towards. In the United States working through an adoption agency the average costs $40,000, an independent adoption with lawyers comes out to $35,000, and an adoption through the foster care system costs $2,700. An agency charges an agency fee and an application to their program about $17,000 versus independent adoption only charging $3,500. The foster care adoption charges $230 for an at home study and evaluation of the parents. Legal fees include through an agency of $4,000, independent adoption is $12,600, and foster care attorney fees is $1,500.
The birth mother expenses through an agency is $4,000 and an independent adoption is around $5,500. There is an advertising/networking expenses that the adoption agency charges which is around $2,300 and an independent adoption charge $4,000. The foster care adoption has an estimated $340 traveling fee and an estimated $600 of other expenses. There are a few reasons why working through an adoption agency rather than strictly through lawyers will cost more. An adoption agency allows families and birth mothers to have more choices of applicants, an agency also provides a lot of support and counseling to both the adoptive families and the birth parents.
Whether somebody is planning on adopting through an agency, independently, or through foster care it is something finically that needs to be planned for. These are just the prices for the adoption process not including the costs of raising a child for 18 years. The average cost of raising a child is $233,000 not including the cost of college or inflation. It is something talking to a finical advisor can help with such as helping pay off adoption cost and saving for the new child’s future expenses.
There is not much history regarding same sex adoption because history did not treat homosexuals with a welcome or respect. In the 1970’s and 80’s they were forced into heterosexual relationships to have children. If they were to come out and leave the marriage their spouse would have been awarded full custody of the children. The 90’s popularized insemination among couples and aloud them to start building families. The first step towards equality for gay adoption happened when states individually started passing laws to legalize same sex marriage.
In 2003 Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same sex marriage following a chain reaction of other states. In 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges, the federal court ruled that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage, making it legal across all 50 states for same-sex couples to finally get married. This was the step in the direction to allow same sex couples adopt in the United States.
Lots of adoption agencies are LGBT friendly but that does not stop discriminations towards parents looking to adopt. A Texas couple was denied the chance to foster refugee children because they did not mirror “mirror the Holy Family”. They have sued the federal government and a Catholic group contracted by the government to run a refugee program. The couple claims the organization violated the U.S. Constitution by citing religion while administering federal child welfare services.