Today, more and more children are raised beyond the confines of what was once considered a conventional family home. Grandparents, stepparents, significant others, and even siblings are assuming the responsibilities traditionally reserved for biological parents.
As the look of families in America is evolving, most Americans still value and desire the security and stability of a formal (i.e., legal) family status. When the family of origin gives way to a “family of choice,” the legal instrument of adoption cements these bonds, protecting both adoptive parents and children alike.
Through adoption, these families find peace of mind and security in the legal protections afforded more traditional families while shielding themselves from future intrusions that may be brought by absentee parents who benefit, albeit unfairly at times, from their position as “legal” parents.
Stepparent Adoptions Unify Blended Families
When people divorce and remarry, a new husband or wife sometimes becomes their children’s primary caregiver. There are a number of reasons why this change could occur. One inevitable result is the children look to their new stepparent for guidance, security, and the necessities of life.
Stepparent adoption proceedings preserve that essential relationship by terminating the rights of the noncustodial parent and awarding the custodial parent’s spouse legal standing as mother or father to their stepchildren. This can ensure that in the unlikely death of the custodial parent, the stepparent will continue as legal parent of the children without the fear or risk that an absentee co-parent could remove the children from their home purely on the basis of “legal” parenthood.
Relative Adoptions Provide Legal Certainty to Multi-Generational Families
When parents face challenges that leave them unfit, unavailable, or incapable of raising their children, very often it’s grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other family members who voluntarily step in to assume parental duties and ensure the children are raised within a loving, family home.
When these situations arise, relative placement adoption permanently places children with close family members who are able to provide care for them while protecting the family from future attempts by biological parents to steal away children from these loving and nurturing homes.
Direct Placement Adoption Give Options to Childless Couples
Many couples across the state of Michigan want to have children of their own, but for a variety of reasons are unable to naturally conceive. These would-be parents make themselves available for children born to mothers who lack the ability – or sometimes the will – to be parents.
In these cases, direct placement adoption will transfer the parental rights of a child to a willing family through a consensual, supportive legal process.
Agency Adoption Provides Permanence to Foster Children
When children enter the Michigan foster care system because of abuse or neglect from biological parents, finding a permanent, stable home is a top priority. Agency adoption awards legal parentage to guardians, foster parents, and others willing and able to provide children loving homes in the aftermath of termination of parental rights proceedings in juvenile court.
Adult Adoption Establishes Ties That Survive After Death
Michigan also permits adult adoption when a legal adult desires to become the adoptive child of another consenting adult. Though not as common as other adoption scenarios, these individuals often choose this formal proceeding to fortify inheritance rights or formally acknowledge the role a mentor or other surrogate parental figure has played in his or her life.
Termination of Parental Rights
Since parental rights are constitutionally protected, before a child can be adopted, the courts must provide the biological parent an opportunity to object at a termination hearing.
These contested adoptions can often be lengthy and difficult, both procedurally and emotionally. An informed and compassionate legal advocate is an invaluable asset to have in your corner throughout these termination proceedings. In some cases, however, the natural parents support the goal of adoption. If so, Michigan law permits such parents to release their parental rights or consent to the proposed adoption, possibly without having to set foot in a courtroom. Threading this legal needle requires the experience of a seasoned adoption attorney.
Contact us to schedule your free consultation with an experienced family law and adoption attorney who appreciates the significance of the parent-child relationship – biological or circumstantial – and who knows the legal process to ultimately do what’s right for the child and your family.
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