How Much Does It Cost to Adopt a Child?

How Much Does It Cost to Adopt a ChildIf you are struggling to start or build your family, you may have considered adoption. One of your first questions, and an important one—how much will it cost to bring a new child into your home through an adoption? Here’s an overview:

The Factors Affecting the Ultimate Cost of an Adoption

The total cost of your adoption will vary, based on a number of criteria:

  • Are you adopting domestically or internationally?
  • Are you using an adoption agency, working with an attorney or handling matters on your own?
  • What expenses have you agreed to pay to the birth parent?

The average domestic adoption usually costs about $30,000, but you can spend as little as $5,000 or $40,000 or more. Statistics show that the cost is customarily a little less when you use an adoption attorney, as opposed to an adoption agency, but that’s typically because the attorney won’t help you find a child—you’ll have to do that yourself. With a domestic adoption, though, the expenses that you pay on behalf of the birth mother are always negotiable, so your total cost will depend on how much you agree to pay.

It’s essentially meaningless to try to come up with an average cost for an international adoption, as the costs can vary widely. With most foreign adoptions, you’ll have travel costs in addition to the other expenses. Nonetheless, adoptions from China, South Korea and Ethiopia are comparable to the average cost of a domestic adoption.

Contact Our Office

To set up an appointment, call us in Haddonfield at 856-429-5005 or in Woodbury at 856-845-2555. We can also be reached in Philadelphia at 215-563-2150 or by e-mail. For clients with personal injury or workers’ compensation claims, we offer a free initial consultation, and will represent you on a contingency basis, only charging attorney fees if we recover compensation for you.

Our offices are open weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Weekend and evening appointments may be arranged upon request. We will also come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

Are There Age Limits on Adoptive Parents?

Are There Age Limits on Adoptive Parents?You may be considering adopting a child, but you’re concerned that you may be too old. You’ve heard others say that most agencies won’t consider you if you are over the age of 40. Are there restrictions or age limits on potential adoptive parents? What are your options?

Until the last couple of decades, there was generally an unwritten rule that cut off adoptions at the age of 40. Fortunately, for adoptive parents and for children, as the baby boomer generation has aged, the age at which adoption agencies will consider prospective parents has gone up, too. Experts say that better health, longer life spans and more active lifestyles among boomers have made them a more attractive option for adoption. In addition, because many of the older individuals seeking to adopt have prior experience as parents, they have been encouraged to take older children or children with special needs, because they have the tools to provide the care they need.

International Adoption May Be Easier for Older Prospective Parents

With most domestic adoptions, unless you are adopting within your family or as a stepparent, there are disadvantages to being older. Unfortunately, many birth mothers prefer younger adoptive parents, as they tend to favor people like themselves. With a foreign adoption, though, where the birth mother is not involved in the process, it can be much easier to adopt as an older person. For example, China has no upper limit on the age of an adopting parent, and some other countries will allow you to adopt up to the age of 60.

Contact Our Office

To set up an appointment, call us in Haddonfield at 856-429-5005 or in Woodbury at 856-845-2555. We can also be reached in Philadelphia at 215-563-2150 or by e-mail. For clients with personal injury or workers’ compensation claims, we offer a free initial consultation, and will represent you on a contingency basis, only charging attorney fees if we recover compensation for you.

Our offices are open weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Weekend and evening appointments may be arranged upon request. We will also come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

How Long Does an International Adoption Take?

How Long Does an International Adoption Take?If you are seriously considering adoption as a way to start or build a family, you may be under the impression that international adoptions just always take longer than domestic adoptions. While the process of adopting a child from another country can be an involved process, there are countries and situations where the international process may actually get you a child sooner than a domestic adoption.

The International Adoption Process

The international adoption process is essentially a four step process:

  • The home study—The first thing you’ll need to do is complete a home study, which shouldn’t take more than six months, but can be done in as little as a month.
  • Completing your dossier—Once your home study is done, you’ll need to put together all the documents required to adopt in the country you’ve chosen. This is a fairly straightforward process and typically takes no more than a couple months. Once the dossier is complete, it will need to be authenticated and translated, which can take another month or so.
  • Processing your application—This is clearly the longest part of the process and varies wildly, based on the country. Some, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ukraine, will finish the process in less than six months. Most take one to two years, and China, which used to be a much faster process, now can take up to five years.
  • Obtaining your child’s visa through USCIS—Once your application has been processed, you must prepare and submit your application for an orphan visa, which can take a week or can take three to four months.

If everything goes smoothly, you can complete an international adoption in less than 18 months, not much longer than it would take to conceive a child.

Contact Our Office

To set up an appointment, call us in Haddonfield at 856-429-5005 or in Woodbury at 856-845-2555. We can also be reached in Philadelphia at 215-563-2150 or by e-mail. For clients with personal injury or workers’ compensation claims, we offer a free initial consultation, and will represent you on a contingency basis, only charging attorney fees if we recover compensation for you.

Our offices are open weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Weekend and evening appointments may be arranged upon request. We will also come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

Readoption: What Is It? Should You Do It?

Readoption: What Is It? Should You Do It?If you are considering an international adoption or have recently adopted a child internationally, you may have heard a caseworker or other person make reference to the readoption process. What is that and how does it affect you? This blog provides an overview of readoption and explains when you may want to consider going through the process.

In most instances, when you adopt a child internationally, the adoption proceedings actually take place in the child’s native country. The adoption, then, is recognized in that country—but what about the United States?

According to the Hague Adoption Convention, all adoptions involving countries that are signatories to the Convention are considered full and final. That means that if the child is from a Convention country and the parents are as well, there’s no need to go through the readoption process. In addition, in the United States, Congress has passed a law that gives the U.S. Secretary of State the authority to issue a certificate to be attached to a foreign adoption order, such that state courts and agencies also recognize the adoption. Unfortunately, at this time, a number of the countries providing the most children for foreign adoption—the Ukraine, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are among them—have not signed the Hague Convention.

Why Would You Readopt?

There are a number of good reasons to readopt:

  • If you adopt the child in the United State, U.S. adoption laws will apply moving forward
  • A readoption can ensure that your child will have inheritance rights
  • You may be required to readopt to obtain a state birth certificate and name change—check your state adoption laws

Contact Our Office

To set up an appointment, call us in Haddonfield at 856-429-5005 or in Woodbury at 856-845-2555. We can also be reached in Philadelphia at 215-563-2150 or by e-mail. For clients with personal injury or workers’ compensation claims, we offer a free initial consultation, and will represent you on a contingency basis, only charging attorney fees if we recover compensation for you.

Our offices are open weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Weekend and evening appointments may be arranged upon request. We will also come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

The Second Parent Adoption

same-sex marriageEven though same-sex marriage is the law of the land now, there can still be legal challenges, especially when there are minor children involved. Typically, this is the parent who is biologically tied to the child. In many same-sex marriages, that person (the biological parent) is customarily the only one with actual parental rights. This may be the case, even in situations where both spouses raise the child together. There is a process, known as a second-parent adoption, where a non-biological parent can be granted many of the same rights as the biological parent, with any loss of rights by the biological parent.

With a second-parent adoption, the child essentially has two legal parents. Once a second-parent adoption has been finalized, the non-biological parent will have the same rights as the first, or biological parent.

It’s important, though, to determine whether your state allows second-parent adoptions. If the concept is not available, your first step should b to prepare and sign a co-parenting agreement, which lays out the responsibilities and rights of both parties. As a general rule, under a co-parenting agreement, you and your spouse will have equal rights and responsibilities with respect to discipline and training, as well as medical treatment, financial support and inheritance. A co-parenting agreement will usually set forth the terms of child care, custody and visitation in the event of a divorce.

Contact Our Office

To set up an appointment, call us in Haddonfield at 856-429-5005 or in Woodbury at 856-845-2555. We can also be reached in Philadelphia at 215-563-2150 or by e-mail. For clients with personal injury or workers’ compensation claims, we offer a free initial consultation, and will represent you on a contingency basis, only charging attorney fees if we recover compensation for you.

Our offices are open weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Weekend and evening appointments may be arranged upon request. We will also come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

Avoiding Adoption Scams

Adoption ScamsFor potential scammers, the emotions of the victim are often a powerful tool, convincing the mark to do things that border on the irrational. And there are fewer actions that are laden with more emotion than adoption proceedings. Unfortunately, the desire for a child has led many prospective adoptive parents to become victims of unscrupulous persons, from bogus adoption agencies to birthmothers seeking only profit. Here are some of the ways that you can be victimized in an adoption scam, as well as some of the steps you can take to avoid such an outcome.

  • A prospective birthmother may accept money and other gifts or goods from a number of adoptive parents simultaneously. This is neither legal nor ethical, but happens far too often. Frequently, the birthmother had no intention of ever giving up the child.
  • An adoption agency may charge substantial fees, but fail to provide any or all of the services set forth in the agreement.
  • Adoptive parents may promise the birthmother access to the child and then refuse to do so, once the adoption is final

The adoption process is somewhat unique, allowing the parties some degree of flexibility. Because fraud requires intent, it can often be difficult to go into a court of law and prove that you have been the victim of wrongdoing. For example, a birthmother may have the intent to put a child up for adoption right up to the time of birth and change her mind subsequent to delivery. In almost every instance, that would not be fraudulent behavior.

Because of the difficulty of demonstrating fraud, your best approach to avoid adoption scams is to ensure that you do your homework, and take certain steps to minimize the risk of deceit. This requires that you take time to educate yourself, that you have a strong knowledge of all parties with which you are working, and that you know your rights and the laws governing your adoption.

To educate yourself, consider doing the following if you are in the adoption process:

  • Do a Google search on the birth parent, spouse and family. See if they have a Facebook presence or are on other social media platforms.
  • If you get any kind of an image, get the file name for the image and Google it. You may find that the birth parent lifted the image from another website.
  • There are forums for adoptive parents to share adoption fraud experiences. Consider joining one of them.

Contact Our Office

To set up an appointment, call us in Haddonfield at 856-429-5005 or in Woodbury at 856-845-2555. We can also be reached in Philadelphia at 215-563-2150 or by e-mail. For clients

with personal injury or workers’ compensation claims, we offer a free initial consultation, and will represent you on a contingency basis, only charging attorney fees if we recover compensation for you.

Our offices are open weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Weekend and evening appointments may be arranged upon request. We will also come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

Parenting Your Adopted Teen

Adopted Teen

Remember when the child you adopted was an infant, newly into your home. Every day was filled with wonder and discovery, every moment seemed to bring a new level of joy and fulfillment.

Now that child has grown into a teenager, and everything seems off kilter. All the happy times from the first 10-12 years of your life together seem to have disappeared, almost as if they never happened. Your child is distant, sullen, angry, withdrawn or even intentionally disrespectful or misbehaving. What can you do?

First, join the crowd!! Whether you are the parent of an adoptee or a biological child, you have to expect challenging behavior during your child’s teen years. Their brains are still developing, and the part of their brain that involves controlling impulses, making good judgments and engaging in logical reasoning is not fully developed. Other cognitive functions, such as critical thinking, empathy and understanding social cues, are also in flux.

There are, however, some very concrete steps you can take to help your adopted child through these years:

  • Participate with them in taking measured and positive risks—One of the scariest and most frustrating aspects of being a teen is being exposed to adult responsibilities and risks for the first time. Regardless of how mature and well-adjusted your child is, they are still doing it for the first time. If you are there to help them, it won’t be so unnerving.
  • Take responsibility for exposing your children to a broad spectrum of cultural, social and physical activities—Your tendency can be hands off, but your kids will appreciate that you cared enough to take them to concerts, movies and other events. And don’t be put off if you ask what they want to do and they say I don’t know, or I don’t care. They are probably giving the most honest answer they know how to give.
  • Pay attention for problems in school or in social settings—Your child may need some assistance or may simply use academics as a place to either get attention or act out.
  • Let your children be involved in decision-making—Be prepared for initial hesitancy or ambivalence. Your kids may be trying to figure out what you want to do, or they may still be discovering what they love to do. They don’t get to make all the decisions, and you always have absolute veto power, but the more you involve them, the more they will come to understand that their interests matter.

Contact Our Office

To set up an appointment, call us in Haddonfield at 856-429-5005 or in Woodbury at 856-845-2555. We can also be reached in Philadelphia at 215-563-2150 or by e-mail. For clients with personal injury or workers’ compensation claims, we offer a free initial consultation, and will represent you on a contingency basis, only charging attorney fees if we recover compensation for you.

Adopting a Special Needs Child

Special Needs

Are you interested in adopting a child with special needs? The process and the outcome may differ significantly from the adoption of a child without special needs. Here are the steps to take to give yourself the best chance for success:

  • Work with an agency that specializes in this type of adoption—Don’t work with an agency that hasn’t done special needs adoption. They may not know everything that needs to be done to protect your interests.
  • Learn as much as you can about the adoption process itself—How long will it take? What will it cost? How will you be matched with a child? Utilize online resources, seek out support groups and consult the extensive literature available to you.
  • Put together a dossier—You’ll want to gather all information and documents that will be required, including tax returns, pictures of family members, health records and even a criminal background check, if you have one.
  • Prepare and submit your application—This is the critical moment. Be sure you want to adopt a special needs child. It has the potential to be extremely rewarding, but it can also be a lot of work and can end in heartbreak.
  • Wait—Unfortunately, this is a part of the process. Once you’ve submitted your application, you’ll have to wait for what adoption professionals call a "referral," the identification and designation of a specific child available for you to adopt.
  • Prepare to travel—If you are adopting internationally, you will likely be required to go to the country of origin for some period of time. If you are adopting domestically, you may be required to travel to the child’s location to complete the adoption process.

Contact Our Office

To set up an appointment, call us in Haddonfield at 856-429-5005 or in Woodbury at 856-845-2555. We can also be reached in Philadelphia at 215-563-2150 or by e-mail. For clients with personal injury or workers’ compensation claims, we offer a free initial consultation, and will represent you on a contingency basis, only charging attorney fees if we recover compensation for you.

Our offices are open weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Weekend and evening appointments may be arranged upon request. We will also come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

Determining If Adoption is Right for You

Adopting a child

If you are contemplating adopting a child, either to start or build a family, you want to take some time before you get too far into the process to determine if it’s the right step for you. Here are some ways you can be more certain you’re doing the right thing.

  • Educate yourself—There are lots of adoption websites, social media sites and support groups, as well as many books. Take the time to talk with others who have adopted, and be sure to ask them about the challenges as well as the benefits. It can also be beneficial to schedule a few interviews with adoption agencies. Be willing to ask them the difficult questions—how much will it cost, how long will it take and what are the chances it won’t happen.
  • Consider your options—The adoption process can be complex—you have to choose between an international and a domestic adoption, between a private and an agency adoption, between an open or a closed adoption. Learn the differences and ask yourself what will be best for you and your family.
  • Put together a plan to pay for the adoption and the costs of raising the child—Whether you are adopting domestically or internationally, you can expect to spend a minimum of $10,000 in most cases. You want to know in advance where you’ll get the money. Look for grants from church groups, family and friends, if necessary. The National Adoption Foundation also offers unsecured loans in some situations.

Know why you want to adopt—Adoption is for life and it’s through good times and bad times. Don’t adopt to save your marriage and don’t adopt to "rescue" a child. Adopt because you want to build and maintain a strong family unit.

Contact Our Office

To set up an appointment, call us in Haddonfield at 856-429-5005 or in Woodbury at 856-845-2555. We can also be reached in Philadelphia at 215-563-2150 or by e-mail. For clients with personal injury or workers’ compensation claims, we offer a free initial consultation, and will represent you on a contingency basis, only charging attorney fees if we recover compensation for you.

Our offices are open weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Weekend and evening appointments may be arranged upon request. We will also come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

Ex-Wife Uses Adult Adoption to Circumvent Custody Ruling

 Adult Adoption

In a bizarre case in New Jersey, the mother of an 18-year-old girl has (so far) successfully used adult adoption to circumvent a court’s custody order. Evidence indicates that the woman and her new spouse filed the documents and completed the adoption without telling the girl’s biological father, who had been granted physical custody.

According to court records, the couple exhibited model behavior for the first few years after the divorce. The father had custody, but the mother lived 15 minutes away. The parents worked effectively together to raise the children, without any need for intervention from the courts. Then the mother remarried.

Shortly after her remarriage, the mother began keeping the children at her house after visitation hours were over, in violation of the court order. She and her husband, according to court records, systematically attempted to cut the children off from their father. The father filed motions with the court and the court issued an order prohibiting the step-father from interfering with the father’s relationships with his children. The judge even indicated that he might grant sole custody to the father (the order in place was for shared custody).

When the oldest daughter became 18, the stepfather, unbeknownst to the biological father, went to another court and filed a petition for an adult adoption, seeking to legally adopt the girl. The petition was granted. Some time later, the biological father attempted to enforce the court’s custody arrangements, but was advised by the court that the adult adoption rendered them void.

The biological father asked the court to vacate the adoption, but the court denied the petition. The father has asked for reconsideration.

Contact Our Office

To set up an appointment, call us in Haddonfield at 856-429-5005 or in Woodbury at 856-845-2555. We can also be reached in Philadelphia at 215-563-2150 or by e-mail. For clients with personal injury or workers’ compensation claims, we offer a free initial consultation, and will represent you on a contingency basis, only charging attorney fees if we recover compensation for you.

Our offices are open weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Weekend and evening appointments may be arranged upon request. We will also come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

ASSOCIATIONS AND AWARDS

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