Adopting a child is one of the greatest decisions you will make in your life. The adoption process in Missouri can be confusing, but don’t get disheartened. Here are the steps you have to take to go through the adoption process in Missouri and qualify for a child.
Find a Child
If you’re interested in adopting a child domestically, you will of course first want to find a child that you would like to adopt. You can do this by consulting with a lawyer, seeking out an adoption agency, asking friends or responding to advertisements. There are many ways to find a child to adopt, but finding that one special child you want to bring into your home is a crucial first step in the adoption process in Missouri.
The first step you will need to take if you’re interested in adopting a child in Missouri is to set up a home study. This is a formal inspection required by state law in which your home, your health and your family’s history are evaluated by a counselor or other trained professional to ensure that your home is the right fit for an adopted child. This step may take six to eight weeks.
Background Assessment of Child and Birth Parents
It is necessary for the child (if born) and the child’s birth parents to undergo a series of assessments that determines their medical background and history. This can include medical and social histories, hobbies and talents, and other physical characteristics. The information is then provided to the prospective adopters. However, any information that can identify the birth parents can remain confidential.
Terminating Parental Rights and Transferring Custody
Once the child is born or once you are otherwise ready to proceed with the adoption, your Petition must be filed and a hearing is scheduled to terminate the parental rights of the birth parents and to transfer custody of the child to you. The court appoints a Guardian ad Litem to protect the best interests of your adopted child. This is typically a family-law attorney that represents your adopted child and is dedicated to his or her well-being. They may want to interview members of your family that will be around the child, but they are supportive members of the adoption process. They are only there to ensure that your adopted child is happy and healthy in his or her new home. At the hearing, you will be required to testify about your desire to adopt the child. Usually the child, the birth parents, and the guardian ad litem are also present at the hearing. If the birth parents do not wish to be present at the hearing, they must either sign a Consent to Terminate the Parental Rights and to the Adoption or they receive proper advanced notice of your intent to adoption and the adoption hearing. If a birth parent does not consent to the adoption, it is important to speak to an attorney about other ways that the court may terminate parental rights.
Receiving Custody of Your Adopted Child
After all of your hard work and patient waiting, the big day has finally arrived: it is time for you to receive your adopted child. However, the adoption process in Missouri will require a few more things from you before the adoption can be finalized. Your child will be placed in your home for six months before the adoption is officially finalized as a sort of trial period. During the six month period, the agency that oversaw your home study will supervise the placement by providing follow up reports to the court.
After the six month period is over, your adoption will be finalized in a court hearing. If your child is old enough to testify, make sure she knows what to expect. You will receive full rights of the child as if they were your own. It will surely be one of the happiest days in your life, and while the adoption process in Missouri requires patience, your work will be well worth it in the long run.