Our Adoption Attorney Team Will Guide and Represent You If You Are Seeking to Adopt in Michigan or Indiana.
We Are Here To Guide You Through Adoptions in Michigan
Adoption is a complex legal journey, intertwined with deep emotional elements. Having an experienced attorney by your side can make a significant difference. The adoption experience is filled with anticipation, joy, anxiety, and sometimes disappointment. An experienced adoption attorney recognizes these emotional components and provides legal advice and emotional support and perspective to help you understand what to expect throughout the process.
Adoption involves many legal procedures, including filing a petition for adoption, completing a home study, attending court hearings, and finalizing the adoption. Each step has specific, mandatory requirements and deadlines. An adoption lawyer can guide you through these processes, ensuring the correct preparation of and timely submission of all paperwork. They can help you understand and fulfill all legal obligations and work towards a successful adoption.
Your attorney will represent you in necessary court proceedings, advocating for your interests and working to convince the court that granting the adoption is in the interest of the child. They can prepare you for what to expect, help you understand the questions you may have to answer, and guide you on how to present your case effectively.
Not all adoptions involve an adoption agency. If you’re pursuing private adoption (also known as independent adoption), our private adoption attorneys can advise and assist you in interactions with birth parents. They can help negotiate terms, ensure all parties understand their rights and responsibilities, and address any potential conflicts or issues that arise.
After the finalization of the adoption, your attorney can continue to offer valuable services, such as helping to secure a new birth certificate, advising on post-adoption contact agreements with birth parents, or addressing any post-adoption complications.
An adoption attorney is an essential guide and advocate during the adoption process. They can help you navigate the complexities of adoption law and the emotional journey toward your goal of welcoming a new child into your family as an adoptive parent. Contact our experienced team of lawyers for adoption at LaBre Law Office today to schedule a consultation and plan your next steps.
Types of Adoption in Michigan
There are several different types of adoption that you may be able to pursue in Michigan:
- Domestic Infant Adoption: This involves adopting a newborn or young baby within the United States. Often, prospective adoptive parents work with an adoption agency or an attorney to match with expectant mothers considering adoption.
- Foster Care Adoption: There are many children in the foster care system who are eligible for adoption. These children range in age from infants to teenagers. Adoptive parents can work with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services or a private agency that contracts with the state.
- Interstate Adoption: Your adoptive child may be located across state lines, in which case the Interstate Compact on Placement of Children (ICPC) will apply. This will require a variation on the general adoption process that will involve participation from ICPC offices and potentially other organizations such as adoption agencies or foster care in both states.
- International Adoption: Also known as intercountry adoption, this process involves adopting a child from a country outside of the United States. It requires adherence to U.S. federal law, the laws of the child’s home country, and the regulations of the international adoption agency.
- Stepparent Adoption: If a parent marries or remarries, the new spouse (stepparent) can adopt the parent’s biological or adopted children. This permanently establishes the stepparent as a legal parent.
- Second Parent Adoption: This is when someone adopts their partner’s child without the first parent losing their parental rights. In Michigan, these partners must be married for the second parent to adopt.
- Relative Adoption: Also known as kinship adoption, this happens when a relative other than a parent steps in to adopt a child in their family. This could be a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or older sibling.
- Adult Adoption: In Michigan, it is possible to adopt someone over the age of 18. This is often done to formalize an existing parent-child relationship, or to provide inheritance rights or other legal benefits.
Each type of adoption has its specific requirements and procedures. Your adoption attorney can guide you through an adoption that fits your circumstances as you seek to grow your family.
Steps for Adopting a Child in Michigan
Adopting a child in Michigan generally involves the following steps:
- Decide on the Type of Adoption: First, determine the type of adoption you wish to pursue. This might be domestic infant adoption, fostering to adopt, interstate adoption, international adoption, stepparent adoption, second parent adoption, or relative adoption.
- Complete an Application: Prospective adoptive parents must complete an application with a licensed child-placing agency that performs adoptions or with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services if adopting from foster care.
- Attend Pre-Adoption Orientation and Training: These sessions provide information about the adoption process, the needs of children waiting for adoption, and self-assessment tools.
- Home Study: A home study is required for all prospective adoptive families. This process involves background checks, interviews, home visits, and references to assess your readiness to adopt.
- Matching Process: Based on the home study, the agency will help find a child whose needs can be met by your family. This could involve reviewing profiles of waiting children or, in the case of infant adoption, being selected by a birth mother.
- Pre-Placement Visits: Before the child is placed in your home, there are usually several pre-placement visits to help the child and family gain familiarity with each other.
- Placement: The child is placed in your home. There is a supervisory period — typically at least six months — where the agency provides support and ensures the placement is working well.
- Post-Placement Assessment: During the supervisory period, a post-placement assessment is conducted to evaluate how the child is adjusting to the new home.
- Finalization: After the supervisory period, the adoption is finalized in court. You’ll attend a hearing, after which the judge issues a final decree of adoption.
- Post-Adoption Services: After the adoption is finalized, there may be ongoing support and services available to your family.
Each adoption journey is unique, and timelines can vary. An experienced family lawyer for adoption can guide you through this process.
Stepparent and Second Parent Adoption
Stepparent adoption and second parent adoption each cater to different familial circumstances:
Stepparent adoption is when a person wishes to adopt their spouse’s biological or legal child. This usually occurs when one biological parent is no longer in the picture, and the other biological parent has remarried. The noncustodial parent’s rights must be voluntarily terminated or involuntarily terminated by the court for this process to occur.
In Michigan, the stepparent adoption process is less extensive than other types of adoption. Both of the child’s biological parents must consent to the adoption, unless the noncustodial parent’s rights have been terminated due to abandonment, neglect, unfitness, or other reasons established by law.
Second Parent Adoption
Second parent adoption allows a second parent to adopt their partner’s child without the “first parent” losing any parental rights. In Michigan, second parent adoption is a bit more complex than in other states. State law bars joint adoptions by any two people who are not married to one another, including single parents wishing to adopt with other unmarried adults. However, recent legal developments may pave the way for more inclusive adoption laws.
Both stepparent and second parent adoptions require a home study and court approval, similar to other types of adoption. Unlike traditional adoptions, these processes usually don’t require long waiting periods, as they deal with children who are already living with the prospective adoptive parents.
Relative adoption, also known as kinship adoption, occurs when a relative other than a parent adopts a child. In Michigan, this process involves the following steps:
- Filing a Petition: The relative wishing to adopt must file a petition for adoption with the Family Division of Circuit Court in their county.
- Consent: Consent from the birth parents is typically required. However, consent might not be necessary if the parents’ rights have been terminated due to abandonment, neglect, unfitness, or other reasons established by law.
- Home Study: As with other types of adoption, a home study is required. This involves an evaluation of the prospective adoptive home to ensure it’s a suitable environment for the child. It includes interviews, background checks, and an assessment of the overall living conditions.
- Placement: If the home study is approved and all other requirements are met, the child can be placed in the home. There is a supervisory period of at least six months before the adoption can be finalized.
- Finalization: After the supervisory period, a hearing is held to finalize the adoption.
Relative adoption in Michigan has some unique factors compared to other types of adoption. For instance, the court may waive the home study requirement if the adoptee is related to the petitioner within the fifth degree by marriage, blood, or adoption. This could expedite the process significantly.
The emotional dynamics can be different in relative adoptions, as the child often has an existing relationship with the adoptive parents. This can make the transition easier for the child, but can also bring unique challenges in terms of setting boundaries and establishing new familial roles.
Open Versus Closed Adoption
For several reasons an adopting family may wish to have detailed information on the birth parents of a child they are adopting; however, in some circumstances it may benefit the child, birth parents, or adopting family to proceed without contact or such complete information. In Michigan practices open and closed adoptions, each with its unique characteristics and considerations.
Open adoption involves some degree of openness and ongoing contact between the birth parents and the adoptive family. This can range from sharing non-identifying information to direct communication through letters, phone calls, or even in-person visits.
Open adoption is becoming increasingly popular due to its perceived benefits for all parties involved. It allows the adopted child to maintain a connection with their birth family, which can help them understand their roots and identity better. For birth parents, it offers reassurance about their child’s well-being. For adoptive parents, it provides access to important medical and genetic history.
In Michigan, any agreement about open adoption is based on the parties’ personal commitment and word, and won’t be enforced by a court. Therefore, it’s crucial that you write down and have everyone sign whatever agreement you make. Open adoption can potentially be involved in any type of adoption scenario, including domestic infant adoption, foster care adoption, and relative adoption.
In a closed adoption, there is no contact whatsoever between the birth parents and the child’s new family with the adoptive parents after the finalization of the adoption. Also, there may be no contact before the adoption.
Although less common than open adoption nowadays, closed adoption can still be the right choice for some families. Some birth parents may choose this option for privacy reasons or because it may feel like a more definitive way to cope with the grief and loss associated with placing a child for adoption. Some adoptive families might prefer this if they worry about the potential complications of ongoing contact with birth parents.
As in open adoption, closed adoption can occur in any adoption scenario. However, it’s more common in international and some foster care adoptions where contact with birth parents may be impractical or not in the child’s interest.
It is important to note that these are not fixed categories, and many adoptions fall along a spectrum of openness. The right choice depends on the individual circumstances and comfort levels of all parties involved. Your adoption attorney can guide you through these decisions.
Interstate adoptions involve adopting a child who lives in a different state than the prospective adoptive parents. This process is governed by the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC). The ICPC ensures the protection of the welfare and rights of children adopted across state lines. The following is an overview of how the interstate adoption process works, as coordinated by the ICPC:
- Home Study: Just like any other adoption, prospective adoptive parents must first complete a home study conducted by a licensed agency in their home state.
- Matching with a Child: After approval of the home study, the family can be matched with a child from another state. This could happen through an adoption agency, a state’s foster care system, or an independent adoption connection.
- ICPC Approval: Once a match is made and the child is ready for placement, the adoption professional will send the relevant paperwork to Michigan’s ICPC office. This paperwork includes the home study, the child’s background information, and the proposed plan for placing the child in the adoptive home.
- Review by Sending State: The ICPC office in the sending state (where the child currently lives) reviews the paperwork. If everything is in order, they will approve the placement and send the paperwork to the ICPC office in Michigan.
- Review by Receiving State: The Michigan ICPC office then reviews the paperwork. If everything meets Michigan’s legal and policy requirements, they will approve the placement.
- Placement of the Child: With ICPC approval from both states, the child can now be placed in the adoptive home in Michigan.
- Post-Placement Supervision and Finalization: After the child is placed, there will be a period of post-placement supervision — typically at least six months — before finalizing the adoption in court.
Interstate adoption can be complex because it involves navigating the laws and policies of two different states. Working with an adoption law firm can help ensure you meet the legal requirements while you progress through the adoption.
Foster Care Adoption
Foster care adoption in Michigan involves adopting a child who is currently in the state’s foster care system. This process has unique aspects compared to other types of adoption:
- Initial Contact: Prospective adoptive parents can start by contacting the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE) or a private agency that contracts with the state.
- Training: Individuals must complete orientation and training sessions, which provide information about the foster care system and the needs of children in foster care.
- Home Study: A Family Assessment, also known as a home study, is conducted to evaluate the suitability of the adoptive family’s home environment.
- Matching: Families are then matched with a child whose needs they can meet. The child could be one already in their care if they are foster parents or a child from the pool of children waiting for adoption.
- Placement and Supervision: Once a match is made, the child is placed in the home. There is a supervisory period — usually at least six months — where the agency provides support and ensures the placement is working well.
- Finalization: After the supervisory period and post-placement assessment, the adoption is finalized in court.
Concerns and Relevant Factors Particular to Foster Care Adoption
- Age of Children: Children in foster care tend to be older, often school-age or teenagers.
- Sibling Groups: It’s common for sibling groups to be in foster care, and there’s a strong emphasis on keeping siblings together when possible.
- Special Needs: Many children in foster care have special needs — either physical, emotional, or behavioral — due to their past experiences.
- Legal Risk: Some children in foster care are not yet legally free for adoption. This means there’s a risk, although usually small, that the child may be reunited with their birth family.
- Cost: Adopting from foster care is generally less expensive than other types of adoption. There may be minimal costs, and the state provides financial assistance for the child’s care.
- Openness: Many foster care adoptions involve some degree of openness or ongoing contact with the child’s birth family.
Adopting from foster care can be a rewarding way to grow your family while providing a stable, loving home for a child who needs one. However, you must prepare yourself for these children’s unique challenges. Consult with your attorney regarding appropriate resources and support if this option may be a good fit for you and your family.
Adult adoption in Michigan is when one adult adopts another adult. While it is less common, some people pursue this type of adoption to formalize an existing parent-child relationship, for inheritance purposes, or to care for an adult who cannot live independently.
The following is a general overview of the adult adoption process in Michigan:
- Eligibility: Both the adoptee and the adoptive parent must be adults (18 years of age or older) and competent to contract.
- Consent: The adult being adopted must consent to the adoption. Unlike child adoption, there’s no requirement for consent from the adoptee’s biological parents.
- Petition: The adoptive parent must file a petition for adoption with the probate court in their county. The petition includes information about the adoptive parent and the adoptee, the reason for the adoption, and the adoptee’s consent.
- Investigation: An investigation may be done by an adoption professional to verify the details provided in the petition and assess the suitability of the adoption. However, the court might waive this step due to the nature of adult adoptions.
- Hearing: After reviewing the petition and any investigation report, the court will hold a hearing. If the judge determines that the adoption is in the interest of all parties, they will issue an order of adoption.
- New Birth Certificate: After the adoption is finalized, the adoptee can request a new birth certificate showing the adoptive parent as their parent.
Gay & LGBTQ Adoption
Michigan’s adoption laws do not explicitly prohibit LGBTQ individuals and couples from adopting. However, the state has been part of ongoing legal debates regarding the rights of religious-based adoption agencies to refuse placements with same-sex couples.
Michigan law allows single people and married couples to petition for adoption. For gay and lesbian couples, both partners can jointly petition to adopt if they are married. This includes adopting a child biologically related to one partner, often called second-parent adoption or stepparent adoption.
However, controversy arose when religious-based adoption agencies — which contract with the state — argued for the right to refuse to place children in LGBTQ homes based on their religious beliefs. A preliminary injunction allowed these agencies to continue this practice. Later, a federal judge halted a new policy that banned state contracts with foster and adoption agencies that refused to work with gay couples, leading to more uncertainty.
Despite these legal challenges, many LGBTQ individuals and couples have successfully adopted in Michigan. Numerous agencies in the state are committed to working with all families, including LGBTQ families.
These legal complexities underscore the importance of consulting with an experienced adoption attorney when navigating the adoption process in Michigan, particularly for LGBTQ individuals and couples.
Contact LaBre Law Office to Discuss Your Unique Adoption Case and Beginning Your Legal Strategy
Adoption in Michigan can take numerous forms. Your preferences and goals are critical factors to consider when expanding your family. An adoption attorney plays a crucial role in facilitating the adoption process.
At LaBre Law Office, our adoption attorney team can guide you along this exciting adventure while consistently progressing toward your family goals. We serve clients throughout the “Michiana” area, as we are licensed on both sides of the Michigan-Indiana border.
Contact LaBre Law Office today to schedule a consultation. We will discuss your unique adoption goals and circumstances, explore options, and identify your next steps toward pursuing adoption in Michigan.
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