When you’re set on starting your family through adoption, often the first concern in any prospective parent’s mind is “what are the requirements to bring a child home?” As adoption grows in popularity across the country as well as New Mexico, more people are learning about the rigorous process involved with adopting as well as the related issue of same sex custody rights. In this article, we’ll discuss the basics behind the adoption process and what you can expect before and after bringing your new addition to the family home with you.
Who Can Adopt in New Mexico?
In New Mexico, as long as the birth parents have either given consent to relinquish their child or the court determines the child is no longer safe with them, then any child is eligible for adoption. Outside of the various financial requirements that vary between public and private adoptions, New Mexico residents must first meet one of the following requirements to be considered for the adoption process:
- Approved by the court as a suitable adoptive parent, and
- If you’re married but your spouse has chosen not to join, you may continue if either:
- Your spouse is a parent of the child and you’re pursuing a step-parent adoption;
- You and your spouse have legally separated; or
- The court excuses your spouse’s choice to not join the adoption for reasonable circumstances.
If the child is a resident of New Mexico but the prospective adopting parents are not, there is still a chance they may be eligible to adopt. Since this can be on a case-by-case basis, contacting a New Mexico adoption attorney is important.
Common Adoption Requirements
If you’re looking to build your family, adoption can be time-consuming and a paperwork-intensive route to take. However, these requirements are in place to ensure a healthy fit between the child and parents, so it’s vital to ensure you follow each stage until the adoption process is complete.
As with any other big legal event in life such as getting a job, purchasing a home, etc., the adoption process requires a background check, if not a series of checks by a variety of sources. In New Mexico, adopting parents will first be required to provide fingerprint records to the Children Youth and Families Department to pull their criminal history and CYFD reporting history, if they have any. The court reviews this information carefully to ensure a child would be safe in the new parent’s care.
After a background check, a Pre-Placement Report, also known as home study, is one of the most common and rigorous parts of adopting a child. In this stage, one or more case managers will be assigned to the prospective parents, and over the course of time they will conduct home visits to assess the environment, interview the parents and adoptive parents, review the background checks and recent medical records, collect reference and employment confirmation letters, and so forth. The purpose of this evaluation is to determine if the prospective adoptive parent(s) are suitable persons to provide a suitable home for the child. The extent and timeline of pre-placement reports depends entirely on the circumstances involved.
Counseling is required in many adoption processes. It typically begins with appointments with the biological parent and/or adoptive parents, but can be required for other people in other circumstances as well. New parents can expect counseling sessions. Adoptees over 10 years of age will also be required to see a counselor to ensure a smooth transition and to confirm the adoption is still in the best interest of the child. Once finished, counselors will provide the court with a narrative, confirming that those involved were knowledgeable about what adoption meant and its potential consequences.
Once you’ve finished the adoption process and your new family member is settling in at home, in many cases you can expect to be required to schedule a few post-placement interviews. The goal of these meetings are for the court to generate a Post-Placement Report to ensure that you and the adoptee are transitioning well and that their continued placement is in the best interest of the child. This is often a very involved process, including everything from parent-adoptee observations, an assessment of the suitability of your home, an analysis of the costs and fees associated with the adoption, and more.
Exceptions to the Requirements
Occasionally, prospective parents can get exemptions from certain requirements in the adoption process, and this typically depends upon the type of adoption being pursued. For example, step-parent adoptions or “confirmatory adoptions” – where same sex couples use assisted reproduction to conceive while married and seek for the non-biological parent to adopt the child – rarely require pre or post-placement reports or counselling.
When you and your partner are ready to start pursuing adoption, connect with the team at the Law Office or Dorene A Kuffer to get an experienced professional in your corner. Our team of family law attorneys have years of experience with adoption and LGBT parenting rights in New Mexico and will give you the compassionate, comprehensive guidance you need to welcome a new member into your growing family. Contact us to get started today.