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Kinship Caregivers - Adoption

What is adoption?

Adoption is the legal process through which a new legal family is formed in place of the child's birth family. The adopting parents assume permanent legal responsibility for a child and assume all the rights and parental authority that a biological parent would have

When is adoption used?

If the legal rights of all the parents have been terminated by a court or they have surrendered their legal rights or they have passed away, then the child can be adopted.

How is it done?

Adoption is a very complicated legal process. There are three types of adoption: agency adoption which includes DCFS, private adoption, and intrafamily adoption. Kinship families with children in Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) custody would fall under agency adoption guideilnes. Most relative family adoptions would fall under intrafamily adoption. A private adoption is arranged by an intermediary , typically an attorney who represents parents wishing to place their child for adoption. The attorney arranges with adoptive parents for the child to be placed with them.

All three types of adoption begin by the removal of the rights of the biological parents which "frees" the child to be adopted by others. The removal can be a voluntary legal surrender or an involuntary termination of rights by a court. In order to ensure that would-be adopting parents can offer a safe, secure and loving home, a home study must be done of all potential adoptive homes. A Petition for Adoption is filed with the court containing very detailed specific information. If the court approves, it will issue a judgment of Adoption. The child will become the legal child of the adopting parents just as if they were born to the adopting parents.

How long does adoption last?
When does the court order expire?

Adoption lasts a lifetime. The court order never expires.

Do I need an attorney?

YES, Adoption is a very complicated legal process. If not done right, it can be found to be invalid. In most cases if you are adopting a child who is in DCFS custody, limited financial assistance is available to cover most, if not all attorney expenses. Otherwise, you must pay for your own attorney.

What can you do for the child you adopt?

Your duties and responsibilities are the same as if the child you have adopted was your biological child. Likewise, the adopted child is also eligible for any benefits as if they were your biological child.

Can you prevent the biological parent from visiting with the child?

It depends. Generally you can decide with whom the child can visit and when and how any contact will occur with anyone, including biological family members. However, for a child with positive connections and attachments to others, especially siblings, visitation decisions should be carefully considered. Louisiana law now permits you to sign a continuing contact agreement with biological family members that is enforceable in court as long as no conflict arises. In addition, under limited circumstances, the law also provides for biological grandparents to have visitation.

Do the parents still have the obligation to support?

Once an adoption is finalized, the biological parents have no further obligation to support.

From whom can the child inherit?

The child has the same rights to inherit from their adopted family and from their biological family as if the child had not been adopted. You should consult an attorney as to the child 's inheritance rights.

Can I apply for benefits for the child or have the benefits the child receives transferred to me?

xOnce the adoption is final, you may apply for benefits for the child. Any benefits the child receives can be transferred to you. In fact, you are obligated to inform any agency that is providing benefits to the child that the child has now been adopted. The agency may reassess the child 's eligibility based on the adoption. In some instances, the reassessment may decrease the benefits or it may make the child eligible for more benefits.

Is there any paperwork I have to provide the court?

There is a lot of paperwork that has to be provided to the court in an Adoption. The attorney who represents you should draft every required document and file everything that is necessary with the court.

Are there any court costs that I will have to pay?

There are court costs which will vary from court to court. If you are adopting a child in DCFS custody, the court costs may be covered by DCFS if the child is eligible for an adoption subsidy. The child 's eligibility for adoption subsidy benefits must be determined prior to an adoption finalization hearing and you should discuss and obtain in writing a decision regarding the child's eligibility. Otherwise, those court costs and other legal fees are your responsibility.