Archive for the 'Relative adoption' Category

The Adoption Tax Credit: The Basics

Kudos to The Dave Thomas Foundation for posting this informative video explaining the Adoption Tax Credit, including the recent changes to it, in simple terms. If you are adopting or thinking about adopting, check it out!

Do you have more questions about adoption? Contact The Vaughan Firm to speak with an adoption attorney.

In Adoption, “Final” Doesn’t Mean the End

You know how in fairy tales, the wedding is the end of the story? Wise readers know that in real-life marriage, the wedding is only the beginning of the story. The same is true in adoption. Although many people think of finalization as being the “happily ever after” in adoption, the truth is that finalization, like marriage, is the beginning of a story that has its ups and downs, its moments of triumph and challenge. This is true for birth parents, adoptive parents, and adopted children alike.

I was heartened to meet two great organizations that recognize this when I was at the Adoption Expo on Saturday. The Post Permanency Family Center offers post-adoptive-placement support for adoptive parents, birth parents, and children in the greater Washington, D.C. metro area. I was especially thrilled to see that they offer services for kids as well as parents, a move that respects the real struggles that adopted and foster kids experience as they grow up. Their services include counseling, support groups, parent training, support for certain kids with specific challenges (such as adolescent girls), advocacy in schools, and 24-hour crisis intervention. I really applaud the PPFC for meeting a need in the adoption community.

Another post-placement service that caught my eye is United Methodist Family Services’ Adoption Preservation Project. This program is only for Virginia families, and it only serves adoptive parents, not birth parents or kids directly. Like PPFC, they offer support groups, counseling, crisis intervention, and advocacy to any adoptive parent at any stage of the child’s life. Also like PPFC, the services offered are completely free. They have groups and offices throughout Virginia, so if you live in Virginia (your child need not have been adopted in Virginia; you only have to live there) and are looking for post-placement support, put their number in your speed dial!

While these are specific to the D.C. metro area, where I live and practice law, it’s important to note that there are resources like this in nearly every community. You adoption agency or adoption lawyer can point you to services in your area. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Child Welfare Information Gateway also offers a directory of adoption-related services that you can search by state.

For birth parents, adopted kids, and adoptive parents alike, just because adoption is the right choice for you doesn’t mean it’s always easy. If you need support, don’t be afraid to reach out.

Do you have more questions about adoption? Contact The Vaughan Firm to speak with an adoption attorney.

All in the Family

When most people think of adoption, they think of adoptive parents and birth parents who were strangers before the adoption process started. However, the truth is that somewhere around half of all adoptions are between close relatives. All over America and at every economic level, stepparents, grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, and sisters are stepping up to provide loving and secure homes for the children in their families.

There are many different reasons for close-relative adoption. Sometimes the child’s parents are struggling with problems such as substance abuse, and adoption by a close relative is a good way to keep that child safe while avoiding foster care. Sometimes the birth mother knows she wants to make an adoption plan, then learns that someone in her close family has been trying unsuccessfully to have a baby. No matter what the circumstances are, here are a few things to know about adoption of a child by a close relative.

1. A faster process. In most states, there are special procedures for adoption by close relatives, making it quicker and easier to adopt than it would be if you were a stranger to the child. In Virginia, adoption by a close relative can usually be completed in just a few months, or even less if the child has been living in the relative’s home for more than three years. This also makes close-relative adoption much less expensive.

2. How close is close? In order to qualify for the expedited procedures described above, you must be a close enough relative under your state’s laws, so be sure to check or ask a qualified adoption attorney. In Virginia, for example, an aunt or uncle is a close enough relative to qualify, but a cousin is not.

3. Make sure adoption is right for the family financially. Before you decide to adopt a close relative, make sure that it’s really adoption you want, not just custody or guardianship. This can be especially important for people with low income, because the child may be eligible for more subsidies under a foster-care or guardianship arrangement. It’s a good idea to consult an attorney about what subsidies your family may be eligible for. Check with your local Legal Aid office to see if they offer any free or low-cost services for close-relative adoptions.

4. Make sure adoption is right for the family emotionally.Custody or guardianship might also be more appropriate in situations where the birth parents don’t want to place the children for adoption, but feel that they have no choice. Remember that adoption completely and permanently severs the birth parents’ legal rights. So, for example, if the birth parents are having financial problems, problems with substance abuse, or trouble with the law, they may feel like they have to place their children in a safer home until they can get their lives straight. In this case, a guardianship or custody order might be a better solution, so that when the parents are back on track, the family can be reunited.

5. Think creatively. In my practice, I have met a lot of loving families who have found creative solutions to problems that affect children. I have known parents who moved to a new state so they could both live closer to relatives to share parenting responsibilities – even though the parents were divorced! I have known birth mothers who placed their children with an aunt and uncle and enjoy seeing their children regularly at family gatherings.

In short, there are as many ways to be a family as there are families. Here’s to all of the many families who do whatever it takes to keep children safe, secure, and loved.

Do you have more questions about adoption? Contact The Vaughan Firm to speak with an adoption attorney.

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