In an effort to be of service to my readers who are seeking support for their pending adoption now in a holding pattern, and wanting to be a resource to those who once had their heart set on adopting a child from Ethiopia, I have been thinking about the differences, both positive and negative, of choosing a domestic adoption instead.
To provide the most useful information, I put the word out to some experts in the field. A Santa Fe social worker who recently worked tirelessly on New Mexico adoption legislation, because of confidential issues, said that she cannot comment at this time. Ina Cook, however, adoption attorney located in the state of Georgia, can, and did. Following is a statement she wrote for my blog, and it is with deep gratitude that I present it to you now. Thanks, Ina!
Domestic adoptions are a viable option for anyone considering adoption to build their family. Outside of the obvious difference of working with a foreign government, many of the basic steps are similar to international adoption, like the home study. The main difference (and usually most frightening) for parents is the termination of the rights of the birth parents. In international adoptions, this step is usually completed before the adoptive parents have knowledge of the child. In domestic adoptions, the rights of the birth parents are terminated after the birth and usually after the adoptive parents have been identified.
The exception to this would be children in foster care who are legally free to adopt.
As an adoption attorney, I can say that in most cases the terminations proceed without problems. If issues do arise, than usually it is the birth mother changing her mind soon after the birth of the child. In a very small amount of cases, the birth father may legally protest the adoption. This has happened about five times in my ten year career as an adoption attorney.
To protect adoptive parents, most states have laws that require any contest to the adoption be made in a timely manner and many agencies will provide interim care for the baby while the termination of rights is in process.
Currently there is a need for parents to adopt African American children. So, this is an option for a family that previously adopted from Ethiopia and want a sibling for their child.
As an adoptive mom through the foster care system, I can say that many of our children in America need homes too. The real and perceived issues that our children in foster care have are usually no worse or better than children form another country. Mostly what the kids need is a home.
If anyone has questions they can contact Ina through her website at www.inacookattorney.com