The family is often described as a mobile – the kind of artwork that includes hanging objects balancing each other, as they move together in circles. Add a new object or change the position of one, and the entire balancing act is thrown into chaos.
Such is the result from sometimes adding a new family member through adoption. It is a long and complicated process that tries to ensure everything on both sides maintains its balance, and that a harmonious result is obtained. It is also one of the happiest things we do in the practice of law.
Every year we handle several intrafamily adoptions. These adoptions involve someone who steps up to take care of one of their younger relatives, who is deprived of their parents through death or other separation. Adoption is about the only area of family law that brings families together, instead of separating them.One surprising aspect is mental health counseling for the birth mother, to ensure her decision to yield all parental rights is a good decision, as well as her own. It also determines if the birth mother is the only one legally empowered to cede the parental relationship. A formal declaration of surrender of the child is expected, and this could be a detail of great importance.
The surrendering parties must be absolutely sure of their decision, so it is often customary there be a waiting period after the signing of the declaration for the birth parents to have time to adjust and finalize their decision.
In Louisiana, a single person can bring happiness to a young person’s life through adoption. Louisiana also set a record for adoptions as more families take in siblings and multiple children.
Just a few years ago, Louisiana set a one-year record for adoptions, with 548 families adopted almost 800 foster children. The state set about to make changes that would encourage the adoption of kids, and it worked.
One family adopted two different sets of siblings – three children from one family and two from another. The birth parents were involved in the children’s lives to some extent, but the formal adoption process meant the children were now the direct responsibility of the adopting parents alone. That means the children did not have to worry that a knock on the door some night might force them to leave their new home.
As great as that success was, however, there were still almost 150 children in the state eligible for adoption, who did not find homes that year.
If you believe you would make a good parent for a child in need and are ready to change your family forever, the family law attorneys at the Gouner Law Office are here to provide the legal assistance and experienced legal representation you need during this important time in your life. We can assist both parties involved–including the family wishing to adopt and the parent wishing to find a better life for their child.
Written by Ted Baldwin