Are you thinking about adopting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana? You might be wondering where to start or how to understand the sometimes confusing terminology. Getting clarity about the potential types of adoption available in Louisiana can help reduce the uncertainty and make your adoption planning smoother!
Adoption vs. Foster Parenting
First off, it might be helpful to some readers to understand the differences between foster parenting and adopting. While foster parenting can greatly benefit a child in need, it’s essential to understand that foster parenting does not equal adoption. Although some foster children are eventually adopted by their foster parents, it is never guaranteed. According to Child Welfare.gov, about 53% of foster children are adopted by their foster parents. In contrast, foster parents might care for a foster child for just a few days, or until the child can be reunited with the biological family or adopted.
Adoption Through an Agency
Many couples choose to adopt through a public or private agency. These agencies are regulated by the state and licensed to place children with adoptive parents. Generally, public adoption agencies place children who are wards of the state due to being abused, orphaned, or abandoned. Private adoption agencies are typically run by charities and social service organizations and deal with children who are given up for adoption. Going through an agency means you have automatic access to professional advice, guidance, and counseling services.
Louisiana allows independent adoption, which involves a direct arrangement between birth parents and adoptive parents, sometimes using a mediator such as a doctor or member of the clergy, according to FindLaw. One possible variation of independent adoption is an “Open Adoption,” which allows the biological parent(s) to maintain some measure of contact with the child after adoption. Whether open or closed, independent adoptions tend to be delicate and very complex, meaning that professional help from an experienced family lawyer is highly advisable.
Adoption Through Identification
“Identified adoptions,” also called “designated adoptions” are a combination of independent and agency adoptions, according to FindLaw. In these cases, usually the adoptive parents locate a mother wanting to put a child up for adoption, and then both sets of parents request that an adoption agency handle the remaining steps. What’s the difference between just going through an agency in the first place? Adoptive parents have the advantage of skipping the wait list and having more control over choosing their adoptive child.
Adopting internationally is the most complicated of all the different types of adoption because you must satisfy both your local state laws and the laws of the host country. Parents must also obtain an immigrant visa for the child through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If approved, the child will be granted U.S. citizenship automatically upon entering the U.S., according to FindLaw. Due to this lengthy paperwork and regulations from the Hague Adoption Convention, it is not recommended to pursue an international adoption without help from an agency based in the U.S. and/or an experienced adoption attorney.
Adoption as Stepparents
A stepparent adoption occurs when the child(ren) are adopted by their parent’s new spouse. In comparison with traditional adoption, this process is simple as long as both birth parents consent. If there is disagreement, or if one birth parent cannot be found, an attorney’s assistance will be needed to complete the paperwork and legal hurdles.
Lousiana law allows for LGBTQ couples and individuals (18 and older) to adopt. However, Louisiana only provides LGBTQ discrimination protections in the realm of employment, and then only with respect to state employees, according to FamilyEquality.org. Some LGBTQ couples and individuals might face challenges with some faith-based adoption agencies who may decline an adoption application for “religious reasons.” If you feel that you are being discriminated against or unfairly challenged in your adoption process, you might want to talk to a family law attorney.
Relative, or “kinship” adoptions, occur when a child is adopted by a relative. According to ChildWelfare.gov, this is often the first option considered by foster care workers when children cannot safely remain in their parents’ home or be reunited with them. Common candidates for relative adoption are grandparents, aunts, and uncles, This process is significantly easier than other forms of adoption, as the law favors relatives raising children.
Do you have questions about Louisiana adoption law? Do you want help understanding the qualifications adoptive parents must meet in Louisiana? Are you battling a complex legal hurdle as you try to adopt? We’re here for you! Call 225-343-2205 to speak to an attorney today, or contact us online!
Miller, Hampton & Hilgendorf
3960 Government St.
Baton Rouge, LA 70806