Adopting a child out of foster care is what most people envision when they consider adoption. However, that’s just one of many ways to become a child’s legal parent. You can make just as big of an impact on a child’s life by choosing to adopt as a step-parent or legal guardian.
When you adopt your kid, you establish a life-long legal relationship that sets them up for success. However, adoption can be a complicated process, even in the simplest of situations. Here’s what you need to know about Oregon adoption and what to expect each step of the way.
Adoption Requirements in Oregon
Because adoption affects legal parentage and all the rights and responsibilities that entails, you have to meet various requirements to become eligible. According to Oregon state law, eligible adoptive parents of minors must:
- Be able to safely house the child. You do not need to provide luxury, but you do need to prove that you can offer a safe, consistent environment where they will have their own personal space. This can be an apartment or a house as long as the kid will have a room of their own.
- Have the income to support them. In general, you should be able to show that adding a kid to your life will not be an undue financial strain. This is usually relatively easy to prove if they already live with you.
- Be able to physically care for them. Parenting a young child can be a lot of work. While age and disabilities are not immediate disqualifications for adoption, you do need to show that the kid will have their physical needs met.
- Pass a background check. You may not be approved for adoption if you have a history of child abuse or neglect or a criminal record. The same goes for every adult in your household.
Beyond these requirements, the state also considers other issues related to the child’s parentage. For example, children who have two living parents can only be adopted if both parents cede or have their parental rights revoked. If there is only one living parent with parental rights, that person must consent to the adoption. If a step-parent wishes to adopt their spouse’s child and the other parent is still living, they must agree and waive their parental rights.
How to Adopt a Child in Oregon
There are two kinds of adoptions you can perform in Oregon, known as departmental and non-departmental. A departmental adoption is one that goes through the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS). In these cases, the adopter workers with the ODHS to foster a child under its custody with the intent to adopt
Alternatively, non-departmental adoptions occur when the adopter intends to adopt a child who is not in ODHS custody. This includes step-parent, relative, and private agency adoptions. While there are some differences, the basic structure remains the same in both cases.
Go to Adoption Training
You may be legally required to attend adoption training, depending on your circumstances. This is most common for departmental adoptions, as children in ODHS custody often come from traumatic situations and require specialized support. You can contact the ODHS to determine if you will need training to be considered eligible.
Submit an Application
Next, you’ll submit your adoption application, including the following:
- Up to five character references confirming that you are a responsible and safe adult.
- Permission to perform a background check regarding your criminal record and employment.
- A physical and medical history check to identify any potentially disqualifying conditions.
This information demonstrates that you are eligible to adopt and have no criminal record or other conditions that would immediately prevent you from caring for the kid.
Undergo a Home Study
All adopters must undergo a home study before being approved. The home study involves an assigned case worker interviewing you and other adults and children in your household to determine the conditions in your home. They will also visit your home to confirm it is a clean, safe, and healthy place to live. They may also request additional information from your physician.
Receive Your Foster Certification and Begin Fostering
If you are performing a departmental adoption, you’ll seek your foster certification while you wait for your case worker to find a child who matches your capabilities. Once a match is found, you will meet with them several times before confirming that you want to foster and potentially adopt. After several months of transition, they will move in with your family. Usually, you will foster them for a while before moving on to adopt.
Finalize Your Adoption
You can finalize the adoption in court once you confirm that you want to adopt a specific child and meet the ODHS requirements. This makes you your kid’s legal parent. After the finalization, you will continue to receive post-placement supervision visits from your case worker for at least six months to confirm the fit works and to provide support if necessary.
Get Expert Legal Help With Your Oregon Adoption
Adopting a child makes all the difference in the world. Whether you’re hoping to adopt a young relative, a stepchild, or a kid in ODHS custody, you should prepare for a complex but rewarding process. At Regele Law, LLC, we can help you keep your adoption on track.Our skilled family law attorneys understand the details involved in all types of adoptions. We can help you submit your application, interface with ODHS and your case worker, and navigate the legal process. Learn more about how we can help you welcome a new child to your family by scheduling your consultation with our Salem, Oregon, family law firm today.