Long Beach Adoptions Lawyers
Pregnant Mothers Considering Putting their Baby up for Adoption in Long Beach
Unsure whether or not you will be capable of raising your unborn child?
Do you need to know what options are available to you?
California Family Code Section 7660 et.seq. covers all your rights and responsibilities in this scenario.
Here are some things to consider when putting your baby up for adoption:
Deciding who will adopt the baby
Before making any decisions, you can opt to meet an adoptive family of your choice. You can meet in person, or you can communicate with them electronically.
The thought of meeting the adoptive family may be a bit intimidating or embarrassing for you to consider. Nevertheless, once they get to see the family, normally the expecting mothers get an extremely relieved feeling and are comforted knowing who is going to raise their child. Once you sign the papers, you will take great comfort in knowing that your baby is going to get excellent care from the family you hand-selected as parents.
On the other hand, some expecting mothers are not interested in knowing the adoptive family’s whereabouts or even their name. In such a case, your Long Beach adoptions lawyer can arrange for a licensed adoption agency to accept your relinquishment and choose a pre-approved family to parent your baby.
Whether or not you decide to be the one to select the adoptive family, you have the right to set some guidelines as to the kind of family for your baby. For example, you might want your child to be brought up in a two-parent family, or in a home near to (or far away) from you. Whatever guidelines you dictate will be honored in the selection of the family for your child.
Rights and Responsibilities of the Baby’s Birth Father
Even if you are not certain of the identity of your baby’s birth father, your adoption lawyer is obligated by law to attempt to contact each man who may be the child’s biological father to properly notify him of the adoption plans. The best way is for the attorney to communicate directly with the father in-person to discuss the circumstances. If the birth father is not willing to meet face-to-face, your attorney can talk to him by phone. Either way, the man will be given the opportunity to express his feelings about the adoption plan and to ask any questions he has.
If the birth father has no objections to the adoption, or doesn’t want any involvement in the case, he will be offered the chance to sign a Waiver of Notice or a Denial of Paternity. On the other hand, if he wishes to be involved in the adoption plan, he can either sign the Waiver of Notice or cosign on the consent documents that you will sign. Some fathers refuse or neglect to respond and they take no further action. If he does, his parental rights could be terminated by the court without notice after the birth of the child.
If, by chance, you don’t know the name or whereabouts of the supposed father, the adoptive family’s attorney is obligated to seek him out diligently and report such efforts of that search to the court. If the father cannot be located, the court can then terminate his parental rights without notice to him.
If it so happens that an alleged father objects to the adoption, he is almost never in a position to stop the adoption from taking place. This is true even if he wishes to raise the baby himself, or wants a family member to raise him or her. The alleged biological father would need to take specific legal steps very quickly to establish and preserve his parental rights. In most scenarios, he would not be able to block the adoption unless he meets one of these stringent legal requirements below:
- The mother is married to the father, or was legally married to him within 300 days of the child’s birth.
- He has received the baby into his home and also publicly acknowledged that the child is his.
- The mother and the birth father have both signed a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity to have him named as the father on the baby’s birth certificate. Hospital and birthing center employees often insist that this form be signed at the time of the child’s birth, but you are not required to do so and should NOT sign if you are planning to put the child up for adoption.
- In a short period after he became aware of or should have known about the pregnancy, he has done everything he could to care for you and the baby, both emotionally and financially.
In the absence of these four requirements, the alleged biological father’s consent to the adoption is not needed. Nevertheless, notice to him is always required, assuming your adoptions lawyer can locate him. When the birth father is aware of the adoption, he does have the right to file a legal action to request that the court stop the adoption. As a matter of practicality, however, most alleged fathers never take this step, even fathers who appear to be very adamant about preventing the adoption.
On the rare occasions where an alleged father files the proper paperwork, the vast majority of these claims are denied because the man never fulfilled his pre-birth duties to the mother or the child. The court then permits the adoption to go through without his consent and over his objection.
There are a few exceptions and limitations to these rules. That said, it’s critical that a mother gives her Long Beach adoptions lawyer all known information about all potential birth fathers. In spite of your embarrassment regarding some of the facts, or belief that some information will damage the case, telling the whole truth about things regarding the child’s birth father helps your attorney to furnish you the very best counsel and assistance for the adoption plan.
Legal and Personal Counseling for You
As the birth mother, you are entitled to your own adoption lawyer, and to personal counseling. These could be provided the expense of the adopting parents, subject to a few limitations and conditions.
If counseling will assist you during this process, you could choose your counselor, or your Long Beach adoptions lawyer can make recommendations. In fact, your attorney should provide or arrange for all non-medical services connected to your adoption free of charge.
What Laws Govern Adoption in Long Beach?
All family matters, adoptions included, are governed by a list of California laws known as the Family Code. This legislation outlines the process required for the birth parents to relinquish parental rights, and also the steps adoptive parents need to take to become the legal guardians of the baby. The laws also cover situations in which a non-marital birth father is unidentified or uninvolved. Pursuant to the California Family Code, as explained above, the father needs to come forward and actively object to the adoption for him to hold on to his parental rights or else his rights can be terminated at the same time as the birth mother’s.
What is Independent Adoption?
Roughly 85 percent of adoptions of newborns in California happen through a process known as independent adoption. This can also be called “private placement”. In an independent adoption, the birth parents choose the adoptive family and hand the child over to them directly without an agency intermediary. Such a placement would be arranged by a Long Beach family law attorney who specializes in adoptions. Another way to go is to adopt through a licensed adoption agency who will assist in pairing an adoptive family with a child.
How Would a Long Beach Family Law Attorney Support the Birth Mother?
A Long Beach family law attorney offers the birth parents more than only legal advice. A reputable firm can connect the birth mother with good prenatal care, adoption counseling, and other forms of support. The Long Beach adoptions lawyer also often helps in the process of selecting the best adoptive family for the child.
A seasoned adoptions lawyer understands that the adoption process normally works much better when the birth parents develop a relationship with the adopting parents, and trust in their capability to properly care for the child. The Long Beach adoption attorney will help nurture this relationship, ensuring any concerns the birth mother might have are addressed. During the process, the lawyer will also conduct discussions with both parties to determine what role, if any, the birth mother might continue to play in the child’s life. All agreements reached in these discussions would be used to write a post-adoption contact agreement to make sure the wishes of both parties are upheld.
In most scenarios, the adoptive parents pay any expenses related to the pregnancy that are not covered by health insurance. This could include medical bills, counseling, legal fees and even possibly living expenses. An experienced Long Beach adoption lawyer can advise you on what is usually paid for by the adoptive parents, and what the birth mother is required to pay for on her own.
In What Ways Can a Long Beach Adoption Lawyer Assist Adoptive Families?
Your well-informed Long Beach adoption lawyer plays an active role in every stage of the adoption process for families who are adopting a child. This would include:
- Planning the Adoption: Your Long Beach adoption lawyer will discuss your wants and needs and help you arrive at the adoption situation that will work best. He or she will also assist you in scheduling the required home study and other required steps.
- Birth Mother Pairing: Your lawyer will use knowledge he or she gained from experience to help you select the best birth mother to fit your unique wishes. He will also give you guidance on meeting with the mothers, and what questions to ask to ensure you can arrive at the match you are looking for.
- Preparations in the Pre-Placement Stage: After you have been paired with an expectant mother, there are numerous things that have to happen in order to assure that you can assume custody when the child is released from the hospital. Your Long Beach adoption attorney will walk you through this process and give you support and advice.
- The Placement and Legal Adoption: The final stage of adoption is taking all of the legal steps to terminate the parental rights of the birth parents and allow you to formally adopt the child. This formalization of the agreement customarily begins within a few days of the birth, but could last several months in some cases. Your Long Beach adoption attorney will provide legal counsel until the adoption is finalized through the courts.
Assisted Reproduction Technology Legislation
Anytime a third party (i.e. surrogate, embryo donor, egg donor, or sperm donor) is involved in an assisted reproduction, it is very important to draft a contract in order to protect each party, and to properly document details such as the rights, liabilities, obligations, and risks of all parties involved. Although it is not required that any party retain a lawyer, the role of an attorney is extremely important in advising the parties on the present legal requirements and other issues in the assisted reproduction agreement.
The lawyer will also be instrumental in drafting a clear contract which is complete and consistent with the current standard of practice, and to help the parties with the necessary court and related process for establishing the parentage of the intended parent(s). Indeed, it is important for each side to be represented by separate legal counsel that is knowledgeable and experienced in assisted reproduction matters. Since laws, procedures and trends are always subject to change, it is not prudent to attempt something as critical as family formation without the support of a qualified attorney.
Surrogacy Case Law
There have been cases in California courts that were extremely favorable to surrogacy and which show California to be excellent and highly desirable jurisdiction for surrogacy situations. Johnson v. Calvert
This was a case about a gestational surrogate with a child conceived from the intended parents’ ovum and sperm. At the end, the judge held that the surrogate could claim no parental rights to the baby and that the intended parents were indeed the sole legal parents.
In Re Marriage of Buzzanca
In this case, the court extended the ruling in Johnson, holding that a surrogate would also have no parental rights when the intended parents are not related biologically to the child, which is the case when the child is conceived by donor ovum and donor sperm. The judge also held that the intended parents again the sole legal parents of the child in this case.
Even though the ruling in the Buzzanca matter included some favorable language related to artificial insemination cases, that case did not address “traditional surrogacy.” The procedures and risks currently in place in California are less clear for traditional surrogacy than for gestational surrogacy although there have been many successful such arrangements in the Golden State. In the same way, the procedures and risks are less certain for single intended parents and same-sex couples, but are often carried out absent any complications.