Adoption is the court procedure by which a child born to one set of biological parents becomes the legally recognized child of a new couple or a new person. Adults may also be adopted. Generally this procedure eliminates all the rights and duties of the natural parents including visitation with the biological children. This procedure once finalized is permanent and in all but the most exceptional cases irreversible.
There are several ways that a child can be placed for adoption. A child may be placed for adoption by a licensed adoption agency, by a direct placement, where the biological parent places the child directly in the home of an unrelated party, or by a biology parent to a stepparent. All of the above require a court order granting the adoption and a home study by a social services agency.
Adoption procedures may vary somewhat from state to state, and from circumstance to circumstance but in general you can expect the following. An attorney or the adopting parent files a petition for adoption In Pro Per or In Pro Se (without an attorney) in a court which has jurisdiction over the adoption. If the biological parent(s) consent to the adoption, the consent is also filed in the court. In some cases the biological parent(s) will be asked to appear in court and inform the court that he has consented to the adoption. In some states a child over a certain age must also consent to his own adoption. Next is the Order of Reference, which refers the case to an adoption agency or state department of social services for the completion of a home study of the adoptive parent(s). Generally, a social worker will be assigned to the case, and will interview the parents and the child at home and file a report with the court. Most social service agencies charge a fee for preparing this required report. If all goes well the next step will be for the court to enter an interlocutory order (temporary order) granting custody to the adoptive parents or a final order, depending upon the procedures in the jurisdiction. A final order of adoption makes the child the legal child of the adopting parent(s) and changes the name on the birth certificate if that is requested.
In the case where the biological parent is unknown, will not consent to the adoption, or cannot be found, the court may nevertheless order the adoption. However, the parental-child bond is considered one of the most guarded bonds under the law, and it may be very difficult and expensive to terminate parental rights through a court order. The court may need to determine that the absence biological parent is truly unknown, or unfit, and that it is in the best interest of the child to be adopted. Consent is by far the easiest and least expensive method to obtain the adoption.
Title 10 U.S. Code, Section 1044 authorizes the provision of legal assistance to certain specified personnel in connection with their personal legal affairs. You should contact your local legal assistance office to find out about local limitations on services.
Clients eligible for services at the First District Legal Office may have all their court filings prepared by a legal assistance attorney if: 1) it is an uncontested stepparent adoption; 2) the adopting stepparent will file In Pro Per; and 3) the biological parent will consent to the adoption. This consent must be in writing. If the biological, non-custodial parent will not consent to the adoption, in most cases, the client should consider retaining a civilian attorney to handle the adoption, as there may be numerous court appearances and complex litigation. The First District Legal Office can assist the client in locating an experienced adoption attorney.
REIMBURSEMENT OF ADOPTION EXPENSES BY THE USCG:
COMDTINST 1754.9A and 14 United States Code Section 514 authorize
Reimbursement of certain adoption expenses for non-stepparent adoptions (independent and agency adoptions only) when the child is less than 18 years of age. The amount of reimbursement to a Coast Guard member or active duty couple is a maximum of $2,000.00 for one child or $5,000.00 for two children in any calendar year. Adoption expense reimbursement is taxable income.
Qualifying adoption expenses are reasonable and necessary expenses directly related to the legal adoption of a child, but only if such adoption is arranged by one of the following procedures: (1) By a state or local government that has responsibility under state or local law for child placement through adoption; or (2) By a nonprofit, voluntary adoption agency authorized by state or local law to place children for adoption. This does not include any expenses incurred for the following: (1) Any travel performed by an adopting parent or (2) any adoption arranged in violation of federal, state or local law.
COAST GUARD MUTUAL ASSISTANCE:
A Coast Guard Mutual Assistance loan may be provided to assist eligible Coast Guard service members who are in the process of adopting a child and who otherwise appear qualified for reimbursement through the Coast Guard Reimbursement of Adoption Expense Program (COMDTINST 1754.9 series). This assistance is designed to supplement the Coast Guard Reimbursement of Adoption expense program by providing a loan so the member may proceed with the adoption process prior to receiving reimbursement from the Coast Guard program.
The type of expenses that may be authorized and the maximum amount of assistance that may be considered are contained in COMTINST 1754.9 series.
Repayment will begin the month after assistance has been provided. When the member is reimbursed form the Coast Guard Program, lump sum payment of any outstanding Mutual Assistance loan for adoption assistance will be required.
Beginning in 1997, an adopting taxpayer may be able to take a new tax credit of up to $5,000.00 for qualifying expenses paid to adopt an eligible child. The credit can be as much as $6,000 if the expenses are for the adoption of a child with special needs.
Qualifying expenses are reasonable and necessary adoption fees, court cost, attorney fees, traveling expenses (including amounts spent for meals and lodging) while away from home, and other expenses directly related to, and whose principal purpose is for the legal adoption of an eligible child.
Adoption expense reimbursement by an employer may be considered taxable income.
SEPARATION FOR THE CARE OF NEWBORN CHILDREN:
COMDTINST M1000.6A, Article 12.F.1 authorizes service members to apply for a one-time separation from active duty for up to two years to discharge parental responsibilities to care for newborn or adopted child.
5 DAY ADMINISTRATIVE ABSENCE FOR CARE OF ADOPTED CHILD:
COMDTINST M1000.6A, Article 7.A.10 authorizes up to 5 days administrative absence to attend to family needs after the birth or adoption of a child.
Adoption Internet Resources http://www.adopting.com
The Adoption Policy Resource Center http://www.fpsol.com.adoption/advocates.html
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