What Are My Legal Rights in Adoption?
Adoption laws vary from state to state within the U.S. Although we encourage you to be fully informed about your legal rights before your child is born, a pregnant woman making an adoption plan can’t sign any legal documents until after the baby’s birth. A prospective birth father may, in some states, be able to sign some paperwork before a child is born.
Once the baby is born, if you still want to move forward with your adoption plan, arrangements will be made for you to sign the legal papers.
There are many preliminary steps you might take while deciding if making an adoption plan is right for you and your baby or child:
- You may talk with an agency staff member about your options and get referrals as needed for services
- Review profiles and/or talk with prospective adoptive families
- Provide a medical release in order to allow the agency to obtain your pre-natal/ medical records
- Provide medical, social, and family history
- Receive counseling on how to cope with any stress or challenges due to your pregnancy
None of these beginning steps obligates you to make an adoption plan for your child.
Before signing any legal documents finalizing an adoption plan for your child, you will receive the following confidential services, at no cost to you:
- Options and supportive counseling by qualified, independent professionals.
- Legal representation to ensure that you understand your legal rights before you sign the adoption papers. FIA will arrange for you to have a qualified adoption attorney, at no charge to you, who represents you, not the agency or the prospective adoptive parents.
- If the biological father is not involved in the plan, an assessment of the biological father’s rights and whether he must receive notice of the adoption and/or consent to it, so that the adoption can be secure for you and your child. When appropriate, very effort is made to include him in the adoption decision-making and planning process.
- Contact with birth parents who have placed a child for adoption, if you wish, for support.
- Profiles of prospective adoptive families, whose backgrounds have been carefully assessed and whose emotional and financial stability has been thoroughly reviewed.
- If you don’t have private medical insurance or Medicaid coverage, referrals to state/federal organizations in order for you to apply for programs that will provide you with the medical coverage that you need.
- Financial assistance for legally-allowable pregnancy and birth-related expenses including medical bills (if you are not eligible for state/federal assistance).
- Knowledge that, if your baby is not born healthy, you will receive support from FIA, twenty-four hours a day, and a family for your child who is ready, willing, and capable of parenting a health-impaired or special needs child.
- Information about open adoption and how post-adoptive contact agreements work so that you and the prospective adoptive family can agree on how you will stay in touch
- Knowledge that FIA is creating “forever families,” and that you, as an important part of FIA’s forever family, have our commitment of lifelong services.