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"Brangelina" have scoured the globe looking for children to make their own. But you don't have to be a Hollywood star to adopt. There are no set requirements for an adoptive parent's age, wealth, social status, beauty or home square footage. The only requirement in most states is the level of love, understanding and guidance a parent can offer a child. Some states do not even require two parents; in California 25% of those who are adoptive parents are single parents.
An adoption is different than being a child's guardian or foster parent. An adoption is a legal process where the adoptive parents are given permanent parental rights over a child. At the same time, the child's natural parents' parental rights are terminated. A parent may voluntarily give up their rights by filing a relinquishment with the court or the court may terminate the parental rights on its own initiative. Involuntary termination by the court normally requires child abuse, abandonment or some other illegal or dangerous act.
An adoption is different from the appointment of a legal guardian for a child. A legal guardian is a person appointed by the court to temporarily care for a child. It is a temporary order because the order is vacated on the child's 18th birthday. An adoptive parent will always be that child's parent. The guardian is also under the supervision of the court. A judge may overturn a guardian's decision and may also change a minor's guardian. In the eyes of the law an adoptive parent is the child's parent, permanently. Once an adoption is finalized the courts have no power over the parents and child. An adoptive parent's rights and responsibilities are indistinguishable from a child's natural parents.
Foster parents are usually licensed by the state to care for children who are not able to live with their parents. Foster parents may care for multiple children for short periods of time and may also receive money for supervising foster children. The federal Adoption and Safe Families Act, passed in 1997, requires the states to limit the amount of time a child may spend in foster care if there are aggravating circumstances which make adoption the best option for the child, rather than being returned to their parents.
Many people are going overseas to find children to adopt. There are many private adoption agencies setup to facilitate foreign adoptions. International adoptions are regulated by individual county's laws as well as the international Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, which the United States has ratified.
Brad and Angelina were not given special treatment because it seems they were able to quickly bring their child home. Any parent who is a citizen can bring an adopted child into the United States. If the adoption is finalized in the child's home country the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows the adopted child to acquire U.S. citizenship automatically on the date they enter the United States as a lawful permanent resident.
The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 does not differentiate between adoptive or birth parents when a parent requests leave. New parents are allowed to take up to 12 weeks of leave whether there new child was born to them or the child was adopted by them.
This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified adoption lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local adoption attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.