Adopting a child whose parents are in jail is simply taking responsibility for another parent’s child, typically in a formal legal way, acting as their parents or guardians due to their parent’s incarceration.
The process of adoption is a very complex one and requires that all statutory laws are met in the adoption process. However, because jailed parents serve time in prison doesn’t mean they have lost their parental rights, depending on the offense committed.
After a review of all evidence and testimonies, the parental right to the child is terminated if they committed a heinous offense such as child abuse or first-degree murder. If not, the consent of the incarcerated parents is needed for the adoption process to occur. This is a safeguard for all the parties involved and avoids future problems.
Understanding the Legal Process of Adoption for Children with Incarcerated Parents
Engaging in the adoption process without a proper understanding of the legal process will put you at risk of taking the child away from you. Hence, the need to consult an attorney for legal advice and understand the process, which includes:
1. Eligibility Requirements
Depending on your residence, various states have their adoption requirement law that spans emotional, legal, and financial requirements. In some states, it is expected that the adopting parents must be at least 18 years. In some others, 21 and 25 years old.
Other states may demand that the adoptive parents be ten years older than the adoptive child. In addition, If any heinous crime has been committed by the adoptive parents, they might be ineligible to adopt a child. Hence, it is essential to consult with adoption professionals and attorneys within your state in your adoption process.
2. The Role of Child Protective Service (CPS)
Child Protective Service (CPS) conducts a social investigation and provides some statutory intervention to strengthen parent-child relationships and supportive roles to protect and ensure the well-being of children.
They facilitate legal functions under the Adoption of Children Act for adoption matters by helping the child prepare for adoption, making them understand why their parent’s parental rights were terminated, and the implication to their future.
3. Role of the Court System
The court’s role in the adoption process of a child whose parents are Incarcerated is essential as they grant an adoption order, make, and facilitate decisions that have yet to be agreed upon by the parties involved in the adoption process. They also play an essential role in the consent process by ensuring that parental consent has been given and the requirements under the Adoption Act are fully complied with.
However, the court may only be able to give an order if the parents’ consent complies with the Adoption Act, such as if the consent was obtained fraudulently, altered without authority, or improper understanding of the nature of the approval.
Preparing for Adoption
Before starting the adoption process, it is needful to carry out some primary functions so as not to fall victim to the illegal adoption process, and some of the initial processes include:
1. Gathering Information about the Child
Gathering medical, genetic, and social history information about your prospective child before adoption is vital to help prevent future problems and ease concerns. This process depends on the type of adoption process. For an independent adoption, gathering relevant information directly from the parents is essential.
However, an agency must get specific information about the child from the child’s caseworker and former foster parents or teachers. Speaking with an adoption law attorney in your locality is crucial for independent adopters and agencies.
2. Building a Support System
A sound adoption support system gives you a sense of belonging in your adoption process, as you are not isolated. This support system encourages you during your good and bad times. Hence, the need to build a motivating and strong support system by attending adoption education classes.
In these classes, you are trained on your adoption journey and connected with people who agree with you and have similar stories and experiences. Also, close friends and family can be included in your adoption support system, especially those who have undergone the adoption process.
3. Challenges and Benefits of Adopting a Child with Incarcerated Parents
There are a few challenges you might encounter during the process of adoption of a child with incarcerated parents, and some of them include:
- Financial challenges: During the adoption process, you will have to pay some fee to the adoption agency, which varies depending on the type of agency. It can be public or private. Private adoption agencies are usually more costly. Other fees, such as attorney fees and fees incurred during the adoption process, might be tacky.
Aside from that, family financial expenses increase as you have to carter for the child’s well-being.
- Legal Challenge: It is vital to seek parental consent and signature for agreement and ensure parental right has been fully terminated following the adoption act. If not done, you may experience a lot of legal trouble.
- Health Challenge: Lack of proper medical history of the adopted child can cause future problems. Also, the child can develop health challenges due to neglect during his early years of trauma. Improper medical information may be problematic for adoptive parents.
As there are challenges so also several benefits are attached to adopting a child with incarcerated parents, and they include:
- The joy of adding a child to your family
- Building better and meaningful social relationships
- Experiencing new cultures and traditions
- New parental activities
The Adoption Process
Adopting a child with incarcerated parents can be challenging if not well-informed or lacking proper guidance. Below are some of the procedures to follow during the adoption process:
1. Termination of Parental Rights
The parental right of the biological parent(s) is terminated for the adoption process to start. It becomes voluntary when the parents legally consent to adoption and give up all of their rights and responsibilities. However, when parental right is terminated due to the risk of harm to the child or failure to provide the child’s basic needs, it becomes involuntary termination. This is important to avoid future problems.
2. Placement of the Child with the Adoptive Family
A child is placed with adopters when the adopting agency has the authority to follow the agreed decision. After this, an Adoption Placement Plan is carried out, including arrangements for reviews, the exercise of parental responsibility, and adoption support. An appointment is made for the child and adopters to familiarize themselves before the child moves into the home.
When the child is placed with adopters, the adopters have a certain level of parental responsibility, and reviews are done within a few weeks or months. After proper reviews, the new parents file an application for adoption order to the court following the court’s requests for a report from the adoption agency. After the direction and celebration hearing, an adoption order is made, and the adopters gain full parental responsibility for the child.
3. Post-Adoption Support Services
You can contact many agencies for post-adoption services saddled with the responsibility of providing and supporting adoptive families with child welfare schemes through medical benefits and other monthly payments. You also get access to local support groups, consultation, and advocacy. You can contact your regional or state social service department for good post-adoptive support.
Considerations of Adopting a Child with Incarcerated Parents
Before adopting a child with incarcerated parents, it is ideal to consider certain factors that may pose a challenge that ought to be managed for better family adoption.
Below are some of the considerations:
1. The impact of incarceration on the child
Children whose parents are in jail usually suffer from emotional trauma since arrest is typically sudden. Often, this translates to the children being worried about the well-being of their parents as their parents are no longer there to stand in entirely for them. They encounter so many crises, ranging from finances and academics. This might make them feel isolated. This requires patience, support, and therapy to cure them of this malady.
2. The need for ongoing support and therapy
Family therapy is essential in post-adoption as it helps both a child and their new family learn to relate appropriately to each other. The adoptive family is trained and equipped with all relevant methods of responding to the child’s needs and inquisitiveness. They also learn empathy for their adopted child to make them feel secure in the family.
Also, therapy and support groups can help process past traumatic experiences and make adopted children’s view of their identity and place in the world healthier.
3. The potential for reunification with the incarcerated parent(s)
After being released from prison, the ability of incarcerated parents to get back their child depends on how much the court was involved in the placement order. Aside from that, you must have met all reunification requirements to prove that your child is not at risk of any harm.
However, there are certain conditions in which reunification is almost impossible such as mental disability, a child’s death through abuse by the former parent, a history of drug abuse, and resistance to treatment. Also, for reunification to take place depends on the crime committed.
4. Importance of keeping the child connected to their culture and family history
New adoptive families must encourage and keep adopted children connected to their culture and family history. This develops a feeling of self-belonging since these children have been through so much. This makes them confident in who they are and where they come from.
It is made possible through several means, such as taking the adopted child for a visit to their geographical location and place of culture, learning the associated language of your child’s culture, and getting role models from your location that shares your child’s cultural heritage.
The benefits for a child whose parents are in jail after adoption include freedom from isolation and emotional trauma. Engaging in this process requires an experienced adoption attorney who can give sound legal advice. If you’re looking for help with the adoption of a child who has an incarcerated parent, don’t hesitate to reach out to the experienced attorneys at Florida Adoption Lawyers. Our compassionate team of experts will help you navigate your options and ensure you have the information and resources you need to make the best decision for your family. Don’t wait—Contact us today to get started!