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Adoption Laws

Whether you adopt a child within your state or from another country, the process is governed by corresponding laws and regulations. And while the regulations and standards for adoption vary greatly from one country to another, each state in the U.S. also has its own slight variations in how adoptions are conducted. This sub-section includes a state-by-state directory with links to relevant laws and procedures, government information on international adoption, and more. Additionally, you will find information about adoption fraud, the potential pitfalls of the different types of adoption, safe haven laws, and other related matters.

Adoption Fraud

Adoption fraud may refer to any number of international misrepresentations or illegal acts by a person involved in the adoption process for personal or financial gain. Adoption agencies, facilitators, birth mothers, and potential adoptive parents may all have motive and opportunity to commit some form of fraud in the course of an adoption.

Frauds may include failing to provide, or providing false background information about a child, promising adoption to multiple parties in return for financial support, travel expenses, or other pregnancy-related costs, or otherwise misrepresenting information to influence the decision to adopt.

Safe Haven Laws

States have produced laws, sometimes referred to as "safe haven" or "baby Moses" laws, intended to permit mothers to relinquish their rights as a parent and turn a child over to state custody rather than simply abandon them. All 50 states have laws of this sort on their books, designating locations and conditions under which parents can relinquish unwanted infants in a safe manner.

There are a number of limitations and safeguards in place to avoid unwanted consequences from arising in these situations. States designate the location that children can be dropped off, determine who has the ability to relinquish a child, limit the child's age, and provide a process for attempting to identify and contact a parent who is not involved in relinquishing the child (typically the father) to ensure that they have an opportunity to reclaim custody.

The Downsides of Adoption Types

Adoptions may take a number of forms that impact the degree of contact between the birth and adoptive families. Confidential adoptions involve no contact, mediated adoptions have limited contact through a third party, and open adoptions have direct contact between the two families.

Each of these arrangements creates some degree of risk for the birth parents, the adoptive parents, and the adopted child. The different arrangements create different liabilities and careful consideration of the potential drawbacks can be an important part of determining which type of adoption process is most appropriate for your situation.

A detailed chart maps out many of the potential concerns for each of the parties to these sorts of adoptive arrangements. As a general matter, confidential adoptions create a situation with no contact that may make certain information unavailable or leave some parties disconnected from others. Open adoptions can result in confusion or dissent about the roles of different parties and a greater potential for manipulation or abuse. Mediated adoptions have a bit of each of these problems, as well as problems associated with the introduction of another party into the relationship.

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