Archives for June 2018

Potential Challenges for Same-Sex Adoption

There are nearly 600,000 same-sex couple households in the United States, and more than 100,000 of them have children. Adoptions by LGBTQ people have risen sharply in the last decade; same-sex couples in the U.S. are now raising at least 22,000 children. That trend is expected to continue, and researchers estimate that there are two million LGBTQ people who are interested in adoption, but many face challenges that make it difficult.

Same-Sex Adoption

Everyone should be treated equally under the law, but same-sex couples often face uneven challenges. Fortunately, states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania have enacted laws that explicitly allow same-sex partners to petition for second-parent adoptions. Still, these parents-to-be often experience difficulties that opposite-sex couples do not. They may even have less options available to them. Public adoption agencies generally adhere to the spirit of the law, but that isn’t necessarily the case with:

  • International adoption
  • Private agency placement
  • Independent and open adoption

A PA adoption lawyer can ease this process for anyone seeking to adopt regardless of sexual orientation. Nevertheless, representation in these scenarios may be particularly important because an attorney will understand all of your rights, recognize when they’re being infringed upon and be aware of what recourse is available to you. Often, simply knowing your rights and being able to express them is enough to cease incidental and even intentional discrimination.

The Rights of Legal Parents

When an opposite-sex couple has a child, the second parent—the man—is automatically presumed to be the child’s legal guardian. This isn’t necessarily the case with same-sex couples, and it’s often necessary for the second parent to adopt the child through a legal procedure, such as a stepparent adoption or domestic partner adoption. An adoption lawyer can assist you in this scenario but also in advance of the birth.

Even after the adoption process is complete, there are still measures to take to protect your rights as a parent. This is why having a PA adoption lawyer through all stages of the adoption process is beneficial.

Something else you may need to consider is what happens if you or your partner choose to dissolve the union. When a traditional marriage is dissolved, both parents have an obvious right to a child that they both adopted. This isn’t necessary the case in same-sex unions, and an adoption attorney can help ensure that both parents have the same rights and duties.

Parenting Agreements

If a judge needs to determine if a person is a de facto parent, the judge will usually make that determination based on:

  • The length of the relationship
  • Whether the child lived with the couple
  • Any joint-parenting steps that demonstrate intent
  • Parenting agreements and similar documents

Parenting agreements are a useful step for all couples who intend to adopt children. This is especially true for same-sex couples as well as opposite-sex couples not in a legal union, such as marriage. A parenting agreement is a contract drawn up by both partners. You don’t need a lawyer to create a legally binding parenting agreement, but a lawyer can help ensure that both parents are explicitly asserting the parental rights and duties that they want.

Navigating the Adoption Process

Many people aren’t prepared for how involved an adoption can be. It can be a time-consuming and challenging endeavor—and that’s true even for opposite-sex couples. Once you and your partner have progressed beyond the emotional journey of deciding to adopt and committing to it, it’s a good time to choose an attorney.

In the United States, an adoption home study is required before you’re even eligible to adopt, and your lawyer can assist you with this as well as other requirements and resources. From there, your lawyer can help connect you with the various adoption sources. In cases where profiles are required, the right advice can be invaluable in positioning yourselves to be attractive candidates to the birth parent or parents.

Whether you’re an individual aiming to adopt or part of an opposite-sex or same-sex couple that wants to bring a child into their lives, a PA adoption lawyer can make a big difference. Your attorney can help you navigate the system and save time and money in the process. You can reach the law office of Cofsky & Zeidman toll-free at (856) 429-5005. If you are local to our Philadelphia location, please call us at (215) 563-2150.

Problems Adoptive Parents Might Have With Birth Parents

Plenty of adoptive parents are opting for open adoptions these days, giving their children the opportunity to stay in touch with their birth parents. As a matter of fact, the percentage of adoptive parents going for open adoptions has increased from 1 percent 20 years ago to about 70 percent nowadays. If you’re thinking of taking this route, you wouldn’t be wrong in doing so as open adoptions can be very beneficial for all parties involved, and they can also help the children develop a healthy sense of identity as they grow up among adults who love them.

Possible Issues With Open Adoptions

However, open adoptions also expose the adoptive parents to possible conflict with the birth parents whether because the birth parents disappear intermittently out of the child’s life, robbing them of any sense of stability, or because the birth parents are too intrusive in the child’s life. Moreover, any significant upheaval in the adoptive parents’ or the birth parents’ lives can be cause for friction.

Disappearance of the Birth Parents

Giving a child away can be an excruciating ordeal for the birth parents, which is why some of them tend to drop off the grid for the first couple of years after the adoption. They’re simply trying to make matters easier for them as well as their children. Nevertheless, adoptive parents might not understand, causing them to blame the birth parents for this unexplained disappearance. If the adoptive parents have a hard time explaining this behavior, you can only imagine what’s going through the child’s mind.

Fortunately, this blame can be avoided with the help of a professional who’s seen multiple cases such as these and is aware of common behavior patterns that occur during them. If you live in the tri-state area, you would do well to visit a qualified New Jersey adoption attorney.

Intrusiveness of Birth Parents

It’s possible that the birth parents can become overly involved in their child’s life, threatening the relationship the adoptive parents are trying to foster. For instance, a birth parent may insist on seeing their children during every holiday, which precludes the adoptive parents from spending any quality time with their new family member.

Moreover, if the adoptive parents and the birth parents have conflicting values, this can manifest itself in rising tensions over what the child is taught at home. Additionally, a birth parent who feels entitled to have a say in his or her child’s life is liable to ignore any boundaries and barge in on the new family any time he or she feels like it.

A Change in the Adoptive Parents’ Lives

A natural part of life is change, which is never contained and always spills out into other aspects of life. A case in point is if the adoptive parents decide to get divorced, which may lead both the adoptive parents and the child to cut back temporarily on contacting the birth parents. As unfortunate as this change may be for the birth parents, they have to learn to accept it.

A Change in the Birth Parents’ Lives

Just as a change in the adoptive family’s circumstances engender a change in the relationship they have with the birth parents, changes in the birth parents’ lives can have adverse effects on the child. For example, should a birth parent develop a drug habit at some point in time, this may leave a negative impression on the child.


How to Address These Issues

As a result of all this, it’s imperative for the adoptive parents to come to a mutually agreeable arrangement with the birth parents early on. This arrangement should set the expectations for all involved parties so as to accommodate any possible shifts in the future. This arrangement should also specify how much time the birth parents are allowed to spend with their child, what the child should call them, and to what degree the extended birth family has the right to be involved in the child’s life.

Contact Our Office

Whether you need someone to help you come up with such an arrangement or you’re looking for a third party to help address serious conflict between you and the birth parents, you should reach out to a professional New Jersey adoption attorney. To set up an appointment with attorney Don Cofsky, 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.