Adoption Attorney Grand Rapids Michigan
Helping You Through the Process of Adopting a Child
Adoption can be rewarding for you as the adoptive parent and the child. It offers the child a loving, stable, and permanent environment that fosters growth and development. As an adoptive parent, you can provide direction, guidance, and support to help the child succeed in life. In Michigan, various types of adoption are possible, each requiring specific processes to ensure everything is legal. The steps involved can be complicated, and failing to go through appropriate channels can delay or prevent the adoption. To facilitate a smooth adoption process, reach out to an experienced attorney for assistance.
At Willis Law, our Grand Rapids adoption lawyer can provide the compassionate and skilled guidance you need. We are here to listen to your goals and discuss the processes for adopting a child. Our team has experience assisting adoptive parents, birth parents, and agency representatives through all types of adoptions. Whatever your situation, you can be sure that we can deliver competent representation throughout.
How Do I Start the Adoption Process in Michigan?
Multiple steps are involved in the Michigan adoption process. The procedures you must go through depend on your specific situation.
However, in general, an adoption will involve the following:
- Filing a petition with the court: One of the first steps in the adoption process is submitting a petition to the court stating that you want to adopt a child.
- Home study: After the court receives your petition, it will order a home study to ensure that the child will be placed in a stable environment and that their best interests are protected.
- Termination of parental rights: If the court is satisfied that you can provide a safe environment for the child, it will terminate the rights of the child held by the biological parent, child-placing agency, court, or Department of Human Services (DHS).
- Temporary placement: This is where the child is temporarily placed with you while permanent placement is pending. Not all adoptions involve this step.
The above provides a brief description of what you can expect at the first stages of the adoption process in Michigan. For an in-depth discussion, speak with our Grand Rapids adoption lawyer. We will answer your questions, address your concerns, and ensure you know what to expect throughout the process.
Types of Adoption in Michigan
Michigan allows for various types of adoption. All require that the biological parents' rights be terminated. Once the adoption is approved, the adoptive parents assume all legal rights and responsibilities of the child.
The different types of adoption include the following:
In direct placement adoption, the biological parent chooses the adoptive parent(s) for their child. Although these types of adoptions most often involve newborns, they can occur at any time.
A stepparent adoption occurs when a person marries a custodial parent, and they want to assume the rights and responsibilities of their spouse's child or children. The non-custodial parent must consent to the adoption and voluntarily relinquish their parental rights. However, if they do not consent, their rights can be involuntarily terminated. A court will involuntarily terminate a non-custodial parent's rights if they have failed to provide support or maintain contact with their child for 2 or more years.
Formal placement adoptions can be initiated by the biological parent, guardian with legal custody, court with legal custody, or a child-placing agency with legal custody of a child. The legal and physical custody of the child is transferred to the adoptive parent, and the court approves the placement.
A relative adoption involves the biological parent transferring rights and responsibilities to a relative. A relative is defined as a person related to the child by blood, marriage, or adoption to the fifth degree.
Legal Risk Adoption
Typically, when a biological parent's rights are being terminated, they have 21 days to challenge the action. If the court feels that it is necessary, it can place the child for adoption before the contesting period expires.
Foster Care Adoption
Foster care provides a stable but temporary home for a child whose biological parents are unable to give the care they need. Although foster care focuses on reuniting children with their birth parents, some situations exist where the State feels that returning the child to their biological parent's care would not be in the child's best interests. The foster family may be considered for formal adoption of the child.
Our Grand Rapids adoption attorney can deliver guidance at all stages of the adoption process. Speak with us today.
Adoption-Related Matters in Michigan
As mentioned previously, in an adoption, the biological parents' rights must be terminated before the adoptive parent can assume them.
There are two ways parental rights can be relinquished:
Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights
When a parent voluntarily relinquishes their parental rights, they release them to either an agency or the DHS. They can also do so by consenting to their child's adoption.
Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights
If a parent is not willing to give up their parental rights, the court may order such to happen. Involuntary termination of parental rights can occur in various situations, including those involving:
- Uninterested putative fathers
- Interested putative fathers
- Stepparent adoptions
- Child protective proceedings
Options Other than Adoption in Michigan
Depending on your circumstances, you might want to be involved in a child's life and provide them with a caring environment, but adoption might not be right for you. If this is your situation, you can pursue options to either have decision-making authority for a child or have visitation rights.
With legal guardianship, an individual assumes primary rights and responsibilities for a child. However, this avenue differs from adoption in that the biological parent will still have limited rights. Additionally, legal guardianship ends when the child reaches 18 years of age.
Grandparents can petition for visitation with their grandchild, which means they ask the court to approve certain times when they can see their grandchildren.
Grandparents may exercise their rights in various situations, such as when:
- Their grandchild's parents are going through a divorce, separation, or annulment
- Their grandchild's parents are divorced, separated, or have had their marriage annulled
- Their child is deceased
- Their grandchild's parents are unwed, but their son's paternity was established
- Their grandchild's parents do not have custody of them
- Their grandchild lived with them for at least 1 year
- The grandchild's stepparent adopted their grandchild, and their child is deceased
At Willis Law, we know how important it is to place an active role in a child's life. Our Grand Rapids adoption lawyer will help pursue avenues that allow you to do that.
Compassionate Guidance Through the Adoption Process
Opening your home and heart to a child is fantastic. To prevent delays in growing your family, turn to Willis Law for the sound counsel you need.
Michael J. Willis J.D., C.P.A.
Shaun P. Willis J.D.
Frank D. Willis J.D.
Donald H. Smith, J.D.
Mariko C. Willis, J.D.
Samuel R. Gilbertson J.D.
Jennifer L. Grahek, J.D.
Adam D. Bancroft, J.D.
Davis C. Martin, J.D.
Aric D. Kasel, J.D.
Verelle Kirkwood J.D.
Kristyn Meylenberg J.D.
Austin J. Beaudet