The Adoption Edition
Jennifer Cimoch asks: When should a foster parent consult a lawyer about adoption?
For any adoption to be able to take place, all parental rights between the child’s biological parents and the child must be terminated. In a private, domestic infant adoption (not through DCPP), parental rights are typically relinquished by the biological parent(s) close to the birth of the child. Biological fathers are not always identified or may not be available to sign consents. If that is the case, there is a certain waiting period that must pass before the parental rights of the non-signing parent are terminated. Private adoptions are not typically contested.
DCPP adoptions are typically contested in some way, shape or form, in that the biological parents are not actively pursuing an adoption plan before the Division becomes involved with their case. Because parental rights are paramount to almost anything, DCPP gives biological parents a lot of time and resources to support their parenting efforts. When all else fails, and the court determines that the biological parents are unfit to parent, the court will ultimately terminate parental rights. At that time, the Division will begin to prepare an adoption consent package, which allows the foster family to adopt the child. Once the adoption consent package is prepared and signed off on, a Complaint for Adoption can be filed. Typically, the caseworker will ask the foster family which attorney they would like to use for the finalization of the adoption. After the consent package is complete, the caseworker will send the file to whichever adoption attorney the foster family chooses to file for and finalize the adoption.
Our office can turn over DCPP adoption files very quickly. Once we receive the package from the Division, we can prepare your Complaint for Adoption and supporting documentation within a few days. Once everything is submitted to the court, a date will be assigned for the Final Hearing.
So, the short answer is … for DCPP adoptions, you do not even need to make the initial call to an attorney. You will tell the caseworker which attorney you would like to use, the caseworker will provide the attorney with all of the relevant information, and then the attorney will reach out to you directly to complete the case.
- Maggie Moriarty, Esq.