There are three basic ways a child can get placed for adoption.
- The first way is if the biological and legal parent “surrender” their rights. In that case, the parent would sign a legally binding document, agreeing to make their child available for adoption by anyone. This is the simplest way to effect an adoption, but it assumes that everyone agrees.
- The second way is if a private person or the Department of Children’s Services can file a lawsuit, either in Chancery or Juvenile Court. In that lawsuit, DCS or the person seeking to adopt must prove (by clear and convincing evidence) that the biological or legal parent has abused, neglected, or abandoned the child, and that the best interest of the child is served by having the relationship between parent and child permanently and completely ended.
- These types of lawsuits are called “Termination of Parental Rights” lawsuits, or “TPR” suits. They must be completed, and all appeals heard, before the adoption can proceed. They are expensive, and many adoption attorneys refuse to participate in the process. (We at Held Law Firm do prosecute these cases when asked.)
- The third, most rare, and most legally controversial way is if a biological or legal parent and the prospective adoptive parent jointly file a Petition, agreeing that the best interest of the child is served by allowing the adoption to proceed. It is not clear whether, by co-signing the Petition, the biological or legal parent is admitting that they have abused or neglected the child, or that such a finding is required. What IS clear in such a proceeding is that the parties must all agree that the adoption by this particular person is best for the child.
Although these are basic summaries of the process, it is still important to have a strong family law attorney on your side during an adoption. Held Law Firm is equipped with two experienced family law attorneys who could guide you through a simple or complex adoption case.