Adoption Attorney in Thayer, Missouri
At the end of adoption, it is the beginning of a family. In either case, the lives of the adoptive parents, the biological parents, and the child adopted have been irrevocably changed. The process is a combination of joy, hope, pain, and emotional overload. It is also a legal one.
At The Law Office of Fred O’Neill, I have worked with hopeful parents for more than 25 years as they built their families through adoption in Thayer and West Plains, Missouri, and throughout The Ozarks and North Central Arkansas. I have helped them navigate the emotional ups and downs by holding fast to the one constant. That is, the process required under Missouri law that ensures the child’s best interests are served in adoption. If you are considering adoption, I can help.
What Are the Different Types of Adoption?
All adoptions are unique; however, there are six basic types of adoptions you can pursue.
State adoptions are those involving children who are under the care and custody of the Children’s Division of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. The children have been placed into the foster care system because they have been orphaned, abandoned, neglected, or abused.
Private adoptions are directly arranged between the birth parents and the adoptive parents. Attorneys, members of the clergy, or physicians may be involved as intermediaries. The adoptive parents are usually represented by an attorney.
International adoptions typically involve an agency in the U.S. working with an agency in another country. U.S. adoptive parents and agencies must work with the U.S. State Department when adopting a child from another country. With few exceptions, the children become U.S. citizens upon admission into the country with their U.S. citizen adoptive parents.
Stepparent adoptions are extremely common in mixed families. Non-biological parents may adopt the biological children of their spouses, especially when the other biological parent is unknown or is willing to relinquish parental rights.
Adult adoptions are often pursued to ensure inheritance rights to the adoptive parent’s estate. Adopted children in Missouri are entitled to the same rights as biological children to inherit under the laws of intestate succession.
Surrogacy adoption is required when a couple employs a third party to be the birth mother. Even if the birth mother is implanted with the fertilized eggs from the couple, she must still relinquish her parental rights after the birth of the child for the adoption to proceed.
How Does Adoption Work in Missouri?
In Missouri, those adults who wish to adopt must be of good character and capable of providing for the care, maintenance, and education of the child. The law’s concern is solely on what is in the best interests of children.
Any adult who will be adopted must provide consent to the adoption. Children ages 14 and older must also provide consent unless they are deemed mentally incapable of doing so.
The consent of the biological parents is also required in the adoption of any minor child, unless the adoptive parents can establish certain facts, such as the birth parents’ prior consent, termination of parental rights, denial of paternity, abandonment, or the inability to ascertain the identity of a parent.
The birth mother may officially consent to adoption only after 48 hours or more have passed since birth. Until then, despite any other arrangements or agreements, the birth mother’s consent is not official under Missouri law. Until the court approves the adoption, the biological parents may change their minds and withdraw consent. However, once the adoption is final, the biological parents no longer have any right to any involvement with the child unless agreed to by the adoptive parents.
What Is the Adoption Process in Missouri?
Adoption in Missouri begins with the filing of a petition by the adoptive parent or parents. In an adult adoption, the process is fairly straightforward and uncomplicated so long as the adult being adopted consents to it.
The process of adopting children requires the service of a petition from the biological parents. Unless the parental rights of the biological parents have already been terminated, the legal process involves the court’s formal termination of parental rights.
Adoptive parents and anyone else residing in the household must undergo rigorous background checks. A prior felony conviction does not necessarily rule out a prospective adoptive parent’s ability to adopt unless the felony involved certain violence or crimes against a child.
The Children’s Division will conduct a comprehensive home study to ensure a home is a safe place for a child. The social services worker will verify that the adoptive parents can provide the education, support, and care required for the child.
Once approved to adopt, the prospective parents will need to choose the type of adoption they wish to pursue. Working with an experienced adoption attorney is the best way to explore your options and work toward adoption. In fact, regardless of the type of adoption or whether the adoptee is a child or adult, your family law attorney will make the legal process understandable and run much more smoothly.
Serving Thayer, Missouri
As an adoption attorney, I get to witness the joy on the faces of my clients when the court finalizes the adoption they sought. That is why I am dedicated to helping individuals and couples who want to adopt to realize their dreams. If you live in Thayer, Missouri, or anywhere throughout The Ozarks or North Central Arkansas and are considering adoption, contact The Law Office of Fred O’Neill to schedule a consultation.