If you live in Colorado and wish to expand your family, pursuing adoption might be the right option for you. There are multiple ways to invite another person into your heart and home, and a Littleton adoption lawyer could help your family determine how to best accomplish this goal.

And while adoption may be in all parties’ best interests, there are important considerations that both expectant adoptive parents and birth parents should weigh. A finalized adoption ends all of the birth parents’ legal rights and responsibilities for the child and permanently awards those rights to the adoptive parents, making it critical to connect with a local family attorney before making any final decisions.

Types of Adoption Available in Littleton

While most people think of adoption as exclusively between non-biologically related children and adults, many forms of relationships can be forged through legal adoption. Additionally, there are several different ways to legally include an additional person as a family member in Colorado.

When considering the type of adoption to pursue in Littleton, an attorney with adoption experience could help families evaluate the benefits and downsides of each.

Adoptions through the Foster Care System

Like across the rest of the United States, most Littleton adoptions are completed via the foster care system, which the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) oversees. Although CDHS’s primary goal is to reunify children with their birth parents, there are situations when this is not possible.

International Adoptions

International adoptions involve bringing a child who is a citizen of another country to live permanently as a member of a U.S. family. The circumstances surrounding the adoption will dictate which type of U.S. visa the child needs.

Domestic Adoptions

In a private domestic adoption, a child’s biological parents relinquish custody to a licensed child placement agency. In Littleton, a seasoned lawyer in Littleton with experience finalizing private adoptions can help the adoptive parents through the procedures. Under Colorado law, independent adoption is not permitted, and all private domestic adoptions must be agency-to-agency.

Kinship and Stepparent Adoption

Kinship adoption allows one of the child’s other relatives to assume parental duties and legal responsibility. Stepparent adoption allows a parent’s spouse to adopt a child if one of the following criteria is met:

  • A court order terminated the child’s legal relationship with their second parent
  • The second parent is deceased
  • The second parent voluntarily relinquished parental rights
  • The second parent consents in writing

Adult Adoption

Contrary to popular belief, adults may be adopted, too. Adult adoptions are often quick and could be finalized within 90 days. They require the consent of the adult or adults who intend to adopt, as well as the adult who would be adopted. Unlike minor adoption, adult adoption does not have any impact on the biological parents’ rights, nor must they be notified of adult adoption proceedings.

Colorado Adoption Process

There are stringent laws with regard to children’s safety and best interests, and Colorado follows strict guidelines for adoption procedures. Colo. Rev. Stat. §19-5-202 dictates who may be eligible to adopt, including those who are:

  • At least 21 years old
  • Minors with court approval
  • Filing jointly with a spouse
  • Interested in adopting an adult

Upon determining eligibility, the party or parties interested in adopting a child must undergo a structured home study to ensure a safe environment. Colorado’s Structured Analysis Family Evaluation (SAFE) allows child welfare agencies to effectively and fairly screen prospective families for suitability for adoption. From beginning to completion, the SAFE process usually takes three to six months.

If the child joining the family will come from foster care, the child must live within the household for at least six months before the family can complete the process at the adoption finalization hearing. In total, the adoption process can take from six months to many years, depending on the unique situation.

Attorney Guidance in the Littleton Adoption Process

Adopting another person as a member of your family can be a lengthy process, requiring extensive paperwork, home evaluations, and out-of-pocket expenses. To ensure that you are prepared for any hurdle that you may encounter during the adoption process, you should consult a Littleton adoption lawyer for guidance. Call today to schedule a consultation.