Baton Rouge individuals and couples who want to adopt can benefit by learning all they can before committing time and energy to the process. A blog can’t provide all the answers, but an overview may help you prepare questions to ask an attorney. Let’s narrow the field to stepparent adoptions, the most common type of all adoptions.
An adoption transfers legal and parental rights to an adoptive parent. Once that transition occurs, the birth parent loses all parental rights and is freed from all parental obligations, like child support. A stepparent child adoption is dependent upon several factors, including the consent of several parties.
In Louisiana, consent is required from the child’s mother and father. In this case, “father” may refer to a presumed, alleged or biological father or a custodial agency. In some states, an older child’s consent is also necessary; laws in our state do not address this issue specifically.
Courts take some precautions to make sure a parent is certain about giving consent to adopt. A parent must undergo two counseling sessions before any parental rights surrender is executed. Once consent is given and court approved, it may not be revoked.
A non-custodial parent’s consent is unnecessary when that individual’s parental rights have been terminated. In Louisiana stepparent adoptions, parental consent is not needed, when the stepparent’s spouse has child custody and the non-custodial parent fails to support or get in touch with a child, without good reason, for a minimum of six months. Another term to describe this is parental abandonment.
Other issues to add to your list of concerns may include whether a home study will be required, the costs associated with the adoption process and a time frame.
Remember, consent issues can be sensitive and complex. The information here is not meant to be comprehensive. Your attorney’s advice may include several issues we haven’t touched here.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Stepparent Adoption” Nov. 26, 2014