Adopting a child is a rewarding, yet complex process
The announcement that Dr. Jennifer Arnold and Bill Klein, of television’s “The Little Couple” fame, have finally achieved their long-awaited dream of becoming parents through adoption may have some people interested in learning more about the adoption process. The couple, who have chronicled their fertility struggles on their TLC reality show, reported to People magazine that they have adopted not one but two children from overseas this year.
For many couples who, like this couple, struggle with fertility issues, adopting a child presents a viable method of expanding their family. While adoption laws vary from state to state and the experiences of the Texas-based Arnold and Klein may be different from those of couples in North Carolina, their story can provide guidance and inspiration for individuals navigating the adoption process.
Choosing to adopt
Whether a couple chooses to adopt domestically or internationally, the road to adoption can be a long and complicated yet an ultimately rewarding process. Those who choose to adopt domestically must face the challenges of finding a child who is available for adoption, determining what type of relationship they will have with the child’s biological parents and legalizing the adoption. International adoptions may require the additional steps of obtaining passports or visas and making other arrangements to travel overseas, arranging for the child to become a U.S. citizen and managing other related legal processes.
Types of adoptions
In previous generations, an adoption almost always meant that the adopted child severed ties with his or her biological family and there was no contact between the adoptive parents and the biological parents. Today, however, there are more choices when it comes to adoptions, and many allow the adoptive child and parents to have some level of contact with the biological parents, depending on the wants and desires of those involved.
While what is known as a closed adoption – one where there is no contact between the adopted child and the child’s biological parents – is still an option, it has become much less commonplace than it once was for domestic adoptions within the U.S. Such arrangements normally not only prohibit contact, but also seal the adoption record so that the adopted child is unable to learn any information about his or her biological parents while he or she is still a minor. While less common for domestic adoptions, closed adoptions are still the norm for international adoptions .
Unlike closed adoptions, open adoptions allow some level of contact between the adoptive family and biological parents. The contact can include things like letters, photos and even visits, depending on what is agreed on by the parties involved.
International adoptions, like those done by Arnold and Klein, are somewhat more complex than domestic adoptions. Different countries and U.S. states have different laws regarding adopting a child from outside the U.S.
In order to adopt internationally, potential adoptive parents must first determine the adoption laws pertinent to both their home state and the country from which they wish to adopt and whether they meet the requirements for adoptive parents.
Assuming the potential parents meet all requirements, the adoptive parents will also need to go through the process of having their adopted child become a U.S. citizen.
Seeking the help of an attorney
Regardless of whether someone is considering a domestic or international adoption, those looking to adopt should consider contacting an attorney with experience in adoption law. An attorney with experience in adoption can complete necessary paperwork, provide knowledgeable advice and guide potential parents through the often-complex adoption process.