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Wheaton open adoption attorneyMany people may not have heard the term “open adoption” before. The concept of an open adoption is a relatively new one--it started gaining popularity in the United States in the 1980s and 90s. Now, it is estimated that the vast majority of domestic adoptions (nearly 95 percent) involve some degree of openness. Open adoptions are gaining popularity due to the benefits they provide for birth parents and the children themselves.

What Is an Open Adoption?

In a traditional or closed adoption, the identities of the birth parents are kept confidential, and they have no contact with the adoptive family before or after the child is adopted. In these cases, the thought process tended to be that if the birth parents knew where the child was, they might attempt to take the child back at some point. However, this would be against the law, because once a child is adopted, the adoptive family is considered the child’s legal family.

In an open adoption, one or both of the birth parents are involved in the child’s life to varying degrees or have some form of contact with the adoptive family. There are no set types of open adoptions; rather, each open adoption is structured to meet the families’ needs. The adoption could be fully open, where the child, adoptive family, and birth parents have regular contact with each other and form relationships, or the adoption could be semi-open or mediated, meaning the families communicate indirectly with each other through an adoption agency.

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Winfield intercountry adoption lawyerWhen it comes to adoptions, there are a couple different methods that prospective parents can choose from. One of the first decisions you have to make is if you want to go through a domestic adoption, meaning you are adopting a child within the United States, or an intercountry adoption, meaning you are adopting a child from another country and bringing that child back to the United States to live with you. Both types of adoptions can be difficult and tedious, but intercountry adoptions have specific rules and regulations that domestic adoptions do not.

Hague vs. Non-Hague Adoptions

Two types of intercountry adoptions exist for U.S. citizens: Hague and non-Hague adoptions. The country you decide to adopt from will determine which process you will adopt by.

Hague Adoptions

The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, also known as the “Hague Adoption Convention,” is an international treaty that was created to protect the best interests of children, birth parents, and adoptive parents involved in adoptions.

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Posted on in Family law

Warrenville family law attorney adoption guardianship parental rightsThere are two legal routes of establishing care for a child whose parents cannot provide them with an adequate home: adoption and guardianships. In some cases, adoption, which severs any legal relationship between a child and its mother, is not in the best interest of the child. This is when guardianship comes into play, usually as a temporary legal status.

Adoption

In an adoption, the adoptive parents are given all of the legal rights and responsibilities that previously belonged to the birth parents. The birth parents either have to voluntarily give up their parental rights or have them involuntarily terminated. Adoption is a lifelong, permanent legal relationship.

An adopted child has all of the same legal rights as birth children if the adoptive parents die and do not have a will, meaning the child is entitled to any inheritance or survivor’s benefits in the event of a death. In an adoption, all decision making is up to the adoptive parents, including decisions about schooling, medical treatments, or visitation of birth parents, depending on the terms of the adoption.

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Wheaton postnuptial agreement attorneyMost people are familiar with the concept of a “prenuptial agreement.” A legally binding agreement between two prospective spouses, a prenuptial agreement stipulates in advance how the assets and liabilities of the soon-to-be-married couple will be distributed in the event the marriage ends in divorce. Such agreements are relatively common when there is a sizeable age or wealth gap between prospective spouses, or when children from previous unions will be brought together by the new marriage. 

Despite the statistic that between 40 and 50% of U.S. marriages end in divorce, prenuptial agreements remain a rather touchy subject, perhaps because they are perceived as “unromantic” – the possible end of the marriage is the last thing one wants to contemplate prior to uttering the words “til death do us part.” Given the statistics, such a dismissive attitude is problematic. Prenuptial agreements, and their post-union counterpart, postnuptial agreements, are worth giving serious consideration to. With the assistance of an experienced family law attorney, it is possible to craft a pre- or postnuptial agreement without introducing excessive tension into a relationship. Really, it is just sensible planning.

Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements Are Legal Contracts

Because prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are contracts much like any other – a meeting of the minds in the form of offer and acceptance, and supplemented with consideration – it is imperative that one rely on an experienced family law attorney to do the drafting of the contract. Moreover, if tension does arise in the process of contemplating and executing a pre- or postnuptial agreement, an attorney certified in mediation will work to bring everyone together towards a mutually agreeable resolution.

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Winfield international adoption lawyerAdoption has been in the news more than usual of late. The reason: politics. Surprisingly, the issue of adoption is at the center of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of possible obstruction of justice on the part of the current U.S. presidential administration. While some people believe that members of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign met with Russian officials with the purpose of influencing the 2016 presidential election, the administration contends that its members met with a prominent Russian attorney to discuss the issue of the adoption of Russian children. 

Beyond its political dimension, this news highlights the increased complexity of situations in which adoptive parents and children are of different nationalities. In these cases, it is important to secure the services of an attorney who understands the laws surrounding international adoption. 

The Hague Convention Applies to Intercountry Adoption

For a strictly domestic adoption of a child by an Illinois resident or family, the Illinois Adoption Act is applicable. However, in the case of intercountry adoption, in which a citizen of one country adopts a child from another country, one must look to both the laws of the country of which the child is a citizen and the Hague Convention. 

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