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Adding to your family through adoption can be a wonderfully fulfilling experience. Whether you are adopting a relative’s child, a step-child, or adopting a child in need of a loving home, you are providing that child with a loving and stable home. The impact of adoption on the child’s future and your family’s future is significant. Hankey Law Firm is here to support you throughout the adoption process and a Cullman adoption attorney from our team can guide you. Despite the need and desire for adoptions to take place, lawmakers in Alabama have not made the process easy. We can help you cut through some confusion and reach the desired result: your new addition at home with you. 

What is the Adoption Process Like in Alabama? 

Alabama law imposes other procedural requirements for an adoption to proceed. These requirements can include the following: 

  • Marriage requirements in the case of a step-parent seeking to adopt a step-child 
  • Residency requirements 
  • Consent to adoption from the child, if the child is of a certain age 
  • Providing notice to the biological parents and the State Department of Human Resources 
  • Home studies 

Failing to follow these steps can delay the finalization of your adoption. 

What Types of Adoptions Are Available in Alabama? 

While Hankey Law Firm does not handle international adoptions, we can assist you with domestic adoptions, along with adoptions from the Alabama foster care system. According to Kidsave, at any given moment there are more than 440,000 children across the United States who are in foster care, with many of those children ready to be adopted. There are different rules and regulations governing the adoption process for each of these choices.  

For example, there are many more steps involved in adopting from a foreign country than adopting a child in the foster care system. Similarly, there can be additional restrictions on adopting a child from one country versus adopting a child from another country. 

It is critical for you to have experienced and knowledgeable legal counsel even at these early stages. Your adoption may only make it to court if you have not complied with applicable guidelines that govern your chosen adoption type. When the appropriate time comes, your attorney can prepare your petition for adoption and file it with the appropriate court. 

Why Choose an Experienced Cullman Adoption Attorney from Hankey Law Firm? 

Choosing a Cullman adoption attorney from Hankey Law Firm simply makes sense. Our knowledge of the adoption process and experience in adoptions is extensive. We understand what the adoption process entails and will keep you apprised of the situation every step of the way. Understanding that it can be nerve-wracking and emotional to wait and wait then have an adoption fall through, we seek to educate you on every possible scenario, so the unpleasant surprises are kept to a minimum. It is essential that you have a Cullman adoption attorney from Hankey Law Firm to make sure your legal rights are 100 percent protected. We will always go the extra mile to ensure a positive outcome for your adoption.    

How Much Could an Adoption Cost?

In the same vein as the question of how long an adoption will take, there are just so many factors that go into that answer that only your Cullman adoption attorney can give you a comprehensive answer regarding the cost of your adoption. Your situation is unique, therefore, everything about your adoption process will also be unique. Depending on the type of adoption you choose, the costs could range from less than $1,000 to more than $50,000, which is a pretty significant difference.

If you are adopting a child from the Alabama Department of Human Resources, your adoption could be almost without cost, with the majority of foster adoptions costing less than $2,000. State and federal adoption assistance programs make the adoption of children in the foster care system more accessible and appealing.

If you are working with an adoption agency or an adoption attorney in a private adoption, you can expect to spend from $25,000 to $60,000. Working with an adoption attorney rather than an adoption agency is slightly less expensive. Private adoptions, like foster care adoptions, involve home studies, placement, counseling, training, and legal documentation. The adoption process is expensive because it involves time, along with many professionals like lawyers, social workers, medical doctors, psychiatrists, social workers, counselors, and government officials, depending on the type of adoption.

A home study for a private adoption can cost from $1,000-$3,000, although this price may be adjusted according to your family’s income. The education and training process can range from $400 to $800, and fees for post-placement (when a social worker visits the family multiple times during the six-month period after the private adoption has gone through) can range from $1,500 to $2,500. When working with a private agency or attorney, one of the expenses concerns matching you with a birth mother, which can cost between $3,000 and $7,000.

If you are adopting a newborn, you may be responsible for expenses related to the birth mother or birth parents, including medical bills, some living expenses, counseling, legal fees, and travel. These fees can range between $6,000 and $8,000. Finally, the legal fees for a private adoption generally range from $7,000 to $15,000. There are many different legal requirements that may include the termination of the birth parent’s rights, court filings, negotiation of the expenses for the birth mother, and the finalization of the adoption.   

How Do Parental Rights Factor into Adoption? 

Before you can complete your adoption, the court will consider whether the child’s biological or legal parents continue to have parental rights over the child. This comes up frequently when adopting a child in foster care. A child in foster care may have parents who still have legal rights to the child, and unless these rights are addressed in some manner, your adoption will not proceed. 

If the child’s mother and father both consent to the adoption in writing, the court will terminate their parental rights and the adoption can proceed. Otherwise, you will likely have a contested adoption hearing and you will need to present evidence to the court justifying the termination of the biological parents’ rights.

How Long Does an Adoption Usually Take? 

Every adoption is different, and only your attorney—who understands all the issues associated with your particular case, can tell you how long you can expect to wait. If you are adopting an infant through an opportunity with a birth mother, the adoption can happen as quickly as a few weeks after expectant parents view your adoption profile, or it can take months or even years. Generally speaking, about three-quarters of active waiting families will be placed with a child within one to twelve months.

If your plans are to adopt through the foster care system, you will first apply to become a foster or adoptive home. An adoption assessment or home study is comprehensive, and you will meet multiple times with an Adoption Specialist, fill out forms, and undergo a medical evaluation. A criminal background check will be conducted for every adult in the household over 18, while a child abuse and neglect check will be performed on everyone in the household that is 14 years or younger.

This assessment/home study can take up to six months to complete, while it can take a few months, a year, or even longer for a “match” to happen. Once you are selected as an adoptive family, planned visits will take place and you will meet with the child’s current foster parents, mental and medical professionals, teachers, attorneys, advocates, and others. The child must live with you for a minimum of six months before the adoption can proceed. 

If you are adopting a relative’s child or a stepchild, the process can go relatively quickly so long as you have a parental termination of rights if applicable, or paperwork naming you as guardian of a relative’s child. Whatever your situation, Hankey Law Firm can assist with your Alabama adoption, helping you and your child become a family.

Why Hiring a Cullman Adoption Attorney Near You is Your Best Course of Action

All adoptions require an adoption attorney to complete the legal side of the adoption. If you are working with an adoption agency, they may include the services of an adoption attorney, or they may not. When you have a Cullman adoption attorney as your primary adoption professional, your adoption is considered independent. In these cases, the birth mothers or birth parents may find an adoptive family independently of screening and matching services. The services offered by your Cullman adoption attorney can vary significantly from one law firm to the next, so it is vitally important that you ask a prospective adoption attorney what they will do and what you will need to do.

How Hankey Law Firm Can Help with the Adoption Process

Talk with Shelbie Hankey and Hankey Law Firm if you want to adopt a child in Alabama. With our knowledge and experience, we can help guide you through the process, minimizing errors and delay and assisting you in finalizing the adoption promptly. Call or contact our firm today to discuss your case with us.