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What should I expect when adopting?

f you are ready to bring a child into your family and your home, adoption in Colorado may be the right avenue for you. Since the adoption process is complex and often emotional, it’s important to learn as much as possible about how it works before you begin your journey. At Burnham Law, our dedicated and experienced team can help guide you through this process as you grow your family.

Adoption Types and Focus

There are three different types of adoption in the US, namely from foster care, domestic adoptions, and international adoption. In all three types, the focus will be on the child and finding the right family for him and her, rather than the other way around. While there are similarities in the processes for all three adoption types, there are also some differences, especially when it comes to international adoptions. Your adoption attorney will review the process for the type of adoption you choose so you are prepared for what is involved.

Who May Adopt?

In Colorado, a person may adopt regardless of their marital status, religion, race, ethnicity, gender identity or sexual orientation. You do need to be at least 21 years old and ready to commit to raising the child, and you need to be able to care for him or her mentally, physically and financially. If you want to adopt a child from the foster care system, you must become a foster parent first.

Certain people are not allowed to adopt in Colorado. A person who has been convicted of a violent or sexual crime or connected with child abuse, child neglect or domestic violence in the past will not be approved to adopt a child. Since the child’s safety and welfare is first or foremost, people with these types of incidents in their pasts aren’t considered suitable adoptive parents.

Qualified Agencies and Home Studies

Colorado is considered an agency state, which means that all adoptions must go through a valid county or private child placement agency. Your agency will also conduct your home study, which is required for all adoptions except stepparent adoptions.

The home study is a comprehensive examination of the adopter and the adoptee, if the adoptee is already living in the prospective adopter’s home. The person conducting the study will review the mental and physical health of the child and the adopter, the adopter’s family background and knowledge of child care, the entire status of the family system including relationships with other family members, the adopter’s financial state, the suitability of the adopter’s home, and other areas he or she deems relevant in the case.

During the home study process, you will have to undergo training with the agency to prepare for the adoption. Depending on the adoption type, training generally must be at least 16 hours total and cover areas such as loss and grief, attachment, adoption’s impact on a child and family in the future, child development and growth, adoption laws and procedures, and the potential for contact with the child’s biological family members. You may also need training on raising a child from a different racial or cultural background if it applies to your adoption.

If you are adopting internationally, your home study may be more involved. If the originating country is part of the Hague Adoption Convention treaty, the person conducting the home study must be authorized to do so. The adopting parent will need to know exactly which country they want to adopt from before the home study is started.

Agencies performing home studies have a process they must abide by. They are required to conduct at least three in person interviews with the party wishing to adopt and at least one individual interview with every adult member of the adoptive household. At least one interview must be done in the adoptive home, and the agency must spread the interviews out over the course of at least seven days. You will also be required to have criminal and child abuse background checks done, have a physical performed by your doctor, and show proof of your health insurance. A home study usually takes at least three months to complete.

The Potential for Snags

Because of the importance of the child’s health and well-being, the court has set rules and requirements during the adoption process. Something as simple as failing to submit required paperwork on time or completing any forms incorrectly can delay the adoption. Adopting parents must stay on top of everything that is going on with your adoption and clearly communicate with your agency, which is why having experienced legal representation on your side can be a huge help during this process. If you are considering adoption, contact the experienced team at Burnham Law to discuss your rights and duties during the process.

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