Assignment 7.1: Adoption
- Identify the types of adoption
- Describe the process of adoption
- Summarize the rights of parents in the adoption context
- Describe the nature and purpose of putative father registries
Tip 1: An attorney started their practice in 1994 international adoptions were very popular. They facilitated adoptions from the Republic of Georgia, Russia, and Guam primarily, Every case had complications. For example, at one point 4 families had given a private “adoption company” $30,000.00 each to adopt a child in Russia. The company took their money and did nothing claiming a moratorium (temporary hold) was in place on adoptions in Russia. The attorney had to file a civil suit in the Court of Common Pleas and emergency orders to retrieve their money. From Court with a hand-written Order from the Judge. The attorney drove one client from the Court to the bank, and they picked up the money and the client rushed to make her plane to start her trip to Russia. There a child was waiting. One Thanksgiving the attorney was called by their clients who were involved in a closed private adoption that the biological mother was in labor. Attorney and clients spent the day at the hospital, she gave birth—they were elated. They stayed the long weekend in the hospital with the new baby. Monday morning the attorney was in the Juvenile Court obtaining emergency orders for temporary custody so that they could take the baby home. By Monday afternoon at discharge, the biological mother changed her mind and took the baby home. In another matter, a husband and wife had adopted 5 children with Downs Syndrome. Ten years later husband filed for divorce. The attorney represented the wife in the Domestic Relations Court in an action for divorce. Not only did the attorney have to sever the marriage in DR Court and arrange for custody and visitation between husband and wife, but also had to address some of the prior delegations of responsibilities assigned to them in the adoption cases in the Probate Court—the Court’s, therefore, exercised concurrent jurisdiction over both matters. Attorney has handled many foster care adoptions. Adoptions cannot be vacated just because parents get divorced, so those children remained the children of each party in the divorce action even if one parent didn’t want custody. The family who lost that baby in the hospital ended up fostering and adopting 6 children—2 at a time over 6 years. Those clients kept the attorney busy trying cases in Juvenile Court where Children’s Services had legal custody and Probate Court where adoptions were finalized. Adoption Law is not simple and it takes years of study and practice to fully understand the process. Don’t try to memorize it all. Read and take it in. For this course, it is important to start to identify the vocabulary of adoption and basic ideas so that if you decide to further your legal studies you have some knowledge base.
Tip 2: In every State, adoption law varies. The State Code includes a place for adoption. There are 3 “family courts” generally in every County in every State—a juvenile court, a domestic relations court, and a probate court. The county population generally controls, per the statute, if there will be 3 separate courts or if the courts will be consolidated. So for example, In Mahoning County, Ohio, we have a Mahoning County Domestic Relations Court, a Mahoning County Juvenile Court, a Mahoning County Probate Court—adoptions are handled by the Probate Court. In Columbiana County, Ohio we have a Domestic Relations Court and a Juvenile Court. The Juvenile Court handles probate matters due to a smaller population in Columbiana County. The State Code doesn’t change. The law doesn’t change. There will still be sections on adoption, divorce, juvenile matters. What changes are where to file the legal documents or pleadings and where to show up for your day in Court. It is important to figure out the breakdown in your adjoining Counties where you intend on practicing law. You can look it up on the Internet, or speak to a lawyer in your County who handles these matters.
You will test your understanding of basic adoption principles by answering questions about adoption law.
Answers to exercise questions
Answer the following questions in a double-spaced Word document. Be sure that your answers are clear and thorough. Use your text and the Internet for assistance. That is, if a concept is not in your textbook, move beyond that resource and look the answer up elsewhere. Paralegals have to learn to find answers and cannot limit themselves to one resource unless they are specifically told to do so. Do not share answers with classmates. Work independently. Be sure to give credit to outside sources even if your citations are not perfect. You may qualify your answers to the adoption laws in your State/County, but please identify the State/County you are discussing.
- On the Internet, locate the websites for your County’s Probate Court, Domestic Relations Court, and Juvenile Court. Do these three exist independently or are they merged in some way (for example as a “Family Court”)? Based on your research, what court handles adoptions?
- Define and distinguish between independent and agency adoption. You can use general definitions or definitions found in your State Code. Either way, identify which outside source you used.
- Define and distinguish between an open and closed adoption. You can use general definitions or definitions found in your State Code. Either way, identify which outside source you used.
- What is a foster care adoption?
- Summarize the rights of biological parents in the adoption context. Describe the tort of interference with parental relationships. You can use general definitions or definitions found in your State Code. Either way, identify which outside source you used.
- Look up the Putative Father Registry in your State. If you cannot find yours, feel free to use the Putative Father Registry webpage for the State of Ohio. It is found on the website of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. Here’s the link: http://jfs.ohio.gov/pfr/
index.stm (Links to an external site.) How does that State define a putative father? What is the Putative Father Registry according to that website? Who should register according to that website? How does someone register according to that website?
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