DESOTO COUNTY ADOPTION ATTORNEY
Lawyers for Stepparent, Related, and Agency Adoptions In Hernando, Mississippi
Adopting a child is a momentous occasion that can bring positive changes to the lives of both the adoptive parents and the child, but the process to get to that point can be long and challenging. You may be unsure how to handle legal proceedings including petitioning for adoption, undergoing a home study, and obtaining consent or terminating parental rights, especially if an unexpected obstacle arises during the process.
At Douglass & Runger, PLLC, Attorneys at Law, we have a thorough understanding of the Mississippi adoption process, and we can help you navigate all of the legal details to ensure that your adoption goes as smoothly as possible. We know how much adoption means to both children and parents, and we are committed to standing by your side as your family grows.
Understanding The Mississippi Adoption Process
Any unmarried adult who has lived in Mississippi for six consecutive months can petition to become an adoptive parent, as can married couples who meet the same residency criteria. Since 2016, this includes same-gender couples in addition to opposite-gender couples.
As a prospective adoptive parent, you can initiate the legal proceedings necessary for adoption by filing a petition with your county court. Your petition should include a statement from a health professional as to the child’s physical and mental condition, a statement of any property belonging to the child, and statements of any fees and expenses you have already incurred related to the adoption.
For your adoption to proceed, you may need to obtain consent from one or more parties, first and foremost including the child’s biological parents if they are living and still have parental rights. If a biological parent objects, you will need to argue for the termination of his or her parental rights on the grounds that he or she is an unfit parent, possibly due to abandonment, neglect, or abuse of the child, or an unwillingness or inability to provide for the child’s needs. Other parties who may need to consent if the biological parents are deceased, unknown, or have already ceded parental rights include the child’s relatives, the child’s guardian, a guardian ad litem, or the Mississippi Department of Human Services. The child will also be required to give consent if he or she is over the age of 14.
The court may also require that you undergo a home study, in which a Guardian Ad Litem, an attorney appointed by the court, will observe your living situation to determine whether it is in the child’s best interests. The representative will deliver a report to the court that will be considered in the adoption decision.
After you have obtained the necessary consent and the court has reviewed the report of your home study, it will typically issue what is called an interlocutory decree allowing the child to live with you in preparation for a finalized adoption. After six months, assuming that there are no challenges or new circumstances affecting the adoption, the court will issue a final decree solidifying the adoption.
Special Considerations For Stepparent And Related Adoptions
The adoption process may vary slightly depending on the type of adoption you are pursuing. For example, if you are the child’s step-parent, you will only need consent from or the termination of parental rights of the child’s noncustodial parent, and the six-month waiting period before the final decree may also be waived. A close relative of the child can also often adopt without the six-month waiting period.
Contact a Southaven Adoption Lawyer
While it may be hard to predict everything that will happen during the adoption process, we will make sure you are well informed from start to finish, and with our experience, we are prepared to adapt as circumstances change. With us, your Mississippi adoption is in good hands. Contact us at 901-388-5805 for a phone consultation. We serve clients throughout DeSoto County, including Hernando, Southaven, Horn Lake, Olive Branch, and the surrounding areas.