The Family Page -- A Source of Child Welfare and Adoption Information for All Family Members

Welcome to the Adoption and Child Welfare Lawsite, a resource created by the National Center for Adoption Law and Policy located at Capital University Law School in Columbus, Ohio. The Adoption and Child Welfare Lawsite is uniquely designed to assist lay persons as well as adoption and child welfare lawyers and juvenile and family court judges.

To make the Lawsite user-friendly for foster/adoptive parents, adoptees, birth parents and relatives and other stakeholders, the Lawsite contains plain English summaries of the legal material included in the database. Additionally, you will find helpful and informative postings on adoption and child welfare news and events and recent significant legal decisions highlighted on the home page.

The Lawsite has several features which provide access to the latest and most complete adoption and child welfare law-related information. Such features include easy-to-follow searches of state and federal statutes, significant state and federal cases, and synopses of publications from related sites and publications on matters involving adoption and child welfare law.

You will find the Adoption and Child Welfare Lawsite easy to use – simply select a suggested adoption or child welfare legal topic from the drop-down search boxes to begin your search or type in your search terms in the keyword search box. You can narrow your results by restricting your search to a particular state or federal jurisdiction or to a particular document type. Plain English summaries of the legal material retrieved in your search are provided in addition to a downloadable version of the full text documents.

Of special interest are our "Frequently Asked Questions" on topics about which we get inquiries on a regular basis. Click on the "FAQs" tab at the top right side of the page to access information on these substantive topics:

1) Overview of Adoption
2) Who May Adopt & Who May be Adopted
3) Consent to Adoption
4) The Homestudy Process
5) Step-Parent Adoption
6) Foster Parents’ Rights
7) Grandparents and Other Relative Caregivers
8) Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (“ICPC”)
9) Adoption Records
10) Revocation, Disruption, and Dissolution
11) Stepparent Adoption
12) Adoption Issues for Gay and Lesbians and Same-Sex Couples

Keep in mind that while the Adoption and Child Welfare Lawsite is meant to inform, to educate and to provide access to adoption and child welfare related law, it is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional legal representation. For specific legal advice, you should consult an attorney who specializes in this area. For a referral to adoption and child welfare legal practioners, please contact the National Center for Adoption Law and Policy.

Please review our Site Disclaimer and User Agreement for more details.

Overview of Adoption

There is not a one-size-fits-all model of adoption. Adoptions can vary widely in relation to cost, birthparent involvement, and the length of time it takes to complete the process. This information is designed to give a basic overview of the options available to prospective adoptive parents.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What types of adoptions are available?

A: There are four major types of adoption: Public, Private/Independent, Private/Agency, and Intercountry. Stepparent and relative adoptions are addressed in separate FAQ documents.

Q: What is a Public Adoption?

A: A public adoption involves a child who has been removed from the birth parent’s home because of abuse, neglect, or dependency issues. The child is in the custody of the state child protective services department.
Age of child: ranges from infants to teenagers; often sibling groups; children with special needs
Time: several months – a few years
Cost: $0 - $2,500

Q: What is a Private/Independent Adoption?

A: An independent adoption is coordinated by an attorney and involves a child who is not in the custody of the state or of an agency. In an independent adoption, the birthparents give consent directly to the adoptive parents.
Age of child: typically infants
Time: 1-2 years
Cost: $4,000-$30,000

Q: What is a Private/Agency Adoption?

A: An agency adoption is coordinated by an adoption agency that is licensed by the state. There are both for profit, and not-for profit adoption agencies. Typically the birth parents transfer custody to the agency, and then the agency facilitates the adoption.
Age of child: typically infants
Time: 1-2 years
Cost: $8,000-$30,000

Q: What is Intercountry Adoption?

A: Intercountry adoption involves the adoption of a child from another country and can be facilitated by either an adoption agency or private attorney.
Age of child: typically toddlers and young children (infants are less common)
Time: 15 months – 24+ months (Timeframes are typically more well-defined for intercountry adoptions than for domestic.)
Cost: $7,000-$35,000

Q: What are the medical risks associated with adoption?

A: The occurrence of significant medical and/or emotional issues varies by the type of adoption. For example, the medical records of children adopted from another country may be difficult to obtain, may contain limited information, or may be difficult to translate. Any adoption may pose challenges in obtaining full and accurate medical histories and information. You should try to ensure that the child’s medical history has been fully disclosed to you, and that you have as much medical/psycho-social information as is available on the birth parents.

Q: What birth parent expenses can the adoptive parents pay?

A: Most states regulate the type and amount of expenses adoptive parents may pay. Many courts require the adoptive parents to file an accounting of all expenses paid. Common expenses that are permitted are the birth mother’s medical and legal/agency expenses, GAL fees, and temporary foster care (if needed). Some states also permit adoptive parents to pay for the birth mother’s living expenses during the pregnancy and counseling fees.

Q: Are there any available sources of financial assistance for adoption?

A: There are many sources of financial assistance for parents planning to adopt. Adoption subsidies are available for a qualifying child though a public adoption. There are also federal and state tax exemptions/credits available to parents. In addition, some employers offer adoption benefits to employees.



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