N.W. asks from North Plains, OR on November 03, 2010
Step-Parent Adoption - How to Get the Process Started?
I am researching how to go about starting the adoption process for my husband to adopt my son. I have made tons of calls and looked online to find out information or to get paperwork, but am not really getting anywhere. I am waiting to hear back from an attorney but am also wondering if an attorney is actually necessary for the process to be done. I'm hoping someone out there would know something?
L.M. answers from Dover on November 04, 2010
Laws vary by state but it also depends on where the biological father is and if he is ok w/ it. If he is alive and ok with the adoption, he would need to sign away his parental rights. If he is not ok with it, you may have to get his rights terminated which can not be done w/out cause. If you don't know who or where he is, you may need to run an ad in the paper first. They attorney should be able to tell what steps to take. Even if one is not needed, you may be best to have one to make sure everything is in order.
D.P. answers from Pittsburgh on November 03, 2010
I think your son's biological father would need to terminate his parental rights first. Not totally sure though.
S.G. answers from Portland on November 04, 2010
We did a step-parent adoption about 14 years ago and an attorney was necessary. We also had to get a home assessment done by a social worker and go to court to get it approved. Really there wasn't much too it as the lawyer did all the work but it cost about $2000. I'm not sure if you could do it without an attorney.
K.B. answers from Tulsa on November 03, 2010
You need an attorney to do this right. I would not use an online free form.
There is exact language that must be included and it varies by state.
It could be as little as $200 or more. Is the other biological parent in agreement? Will there be anyone objecting? Grandparents? Is the father known? He will have to give up his rights and he will HAVE to have his own attorney.
B.M. answers from Portland on November 05, 2010
Speaking from experience, in Oregon... Good luck! That said... determining the need for a lawyer depends on the circumstances. In my case, we only needed a paralegal, not an actual lawyer, because we did not need the representation... we needed the legal documents drawn up, which a lawyer would have their paralegal do anyway. Most filings with the court, you can go down, pick up a packet, fill it out, pay an outragious filing fee, and it's filed... not step parent adoption. To begin with, there are no forms... they are drawn up specifically for each case, special to each case, and the responsilbilty to get it done corrently falls on the person filing. Next, NO ONE in the court system has any idea where you are to file it, or exactly how they are to handle it once you have filed it. It took me more than 6 months of research before we were able to file... and even then, it got kicked back several times beause no one knew what to do with it and kept telling me to change things... I litterally changed the documents from one thing to another, AND BACK, at least 3 times because I would be told one thing and then the next person would tell me that was wrong and make me change it again. And keep in mind that every time its kicked back, it has to be refiled... granted, there is no fee for the refiling, but it's very time consuming. At the point that the paperwork actually gets to the point of being viewed by a judge, you will be called to court to discuss it... don't think that because you believe there is an open and shut case in front of you, that the judge will agree. Many things will come into play here and they will make you, and your husband jump through every hoop possible.
The bottom line though, is that every case is different and there are many factors to how it is handled... how long has the absent parent been absent, how long has Dad been in the childs life, how old is the child, what has been done to try to attach child to the absent parent, has any effort been made on the absent parents part to contact you or the child (Parent has to be 100% absent with no attempt at contact for YEARS before it will be considered abandonment), is absent parent willing to "sign over" rights or will he fight it (it is a bit easier if they don't fight) etc. etc. etc.
In my case... bio mom hadn't had contact of any kind of 4 years, prior to that it was maybe once a year for 5 years. Judge had already taken away visitation due to her inconsistancies. It took us a year to get the paperwork done correctly (we did end up hiring a lawyer because ours was a bit complicated due to the inconsistant contact, not knowing where she was living, etc.) due to the run around with the courts. We found real quick that the court was not on our side... they gave her 3 chances to show up at hearings (rescheduling them when she didn't show up), before they finally set a trial date for the matter, 20 months after we started the process. Unfortunately, our lawyer backed out at the last minute... informing us a week before trial that we had to retrain her for $1000 in order to have her represent us at the trial... and we had to recant our motion for adoption.
Sorry this is so long... it's a subject that I know a lot about at this point. I hope your story ends differently than mine, but if you have any questions, please feel free to shoot me a note and I will try to share my information... I have done extensive research on it. Good luck.