Why Do I Need an Attorney If I Want to Adopt in Connecticut?

Adopting a child is supposed to be a joyous event. But the process of adoption can also be stressful and confusing if you don’t understand the law. If something is missed or you make the wrong decision, the results can be heartbreaking and costly. For these reasons, it’s always a good idea to have an experienced Connecticut adoption attorney if you want to ensure your adoption process runs as smoothly as possible.

Can You Adopt Without a Lawyer?

Maybe you’ve found an adoption agency that you feel comfortable with, and they have their own team of attorneys. Can you adopt without a lawyer in Connecticut?

There’s nothing in the law stating you must have a lawyer to adopt a child. But you are strongly advised to seek independent legal counsel to ensure your interests are protected.

Most people understand that the adoption process can be costly. But you risk losing any investment you make if the adoption isn’t done correctly and legally. In the end, it’s usually worth it to spend just a bit more for some additional peace of mind.

Why You Need an Attorney If You’re Planning to Adopt in Connecticut

If you’re on the fence about hiring an adoption attorney, here are some of the reasons why you should consider this step for your upcoming adoption:

  1. Informed Decision Making

Adoption is a wonderful process meant to put all participating parties in the best position possible. But people often fail to realize that it’s also a legal process with some strict requirements. Having a knowledgeable attorney by your side will ensure that you understand the expectations placed on you so that you can make the most informed decisions possible.

  1. Paperwork Assistance

When you adopt a child, whether it is a newborn adoption, stepchild adoption, or foster child adoption, the amount of paperwork you need to complete can be overwhelming. Every form must be filled out correctly and must be submitted on time. Your adoption attorney will assist you in completing these documents and will answer any questions that require clarification.

  1. Court Representation

Many adoptions can require multiple court appearances. This prospect can be intimidating for most people. But you can rely on your skilled and trusted Connecticut adoption lawyer to make you feel more comfortable in these situations as they present your case before the judge.

  1. Advocacy with DCF

Some adoption cases in Connecticut involve the state’s Department of Children and Families (DCF). Before a child can be legally adopted, the court must first terminate the parental rights of both birth parents. When DCF is involved in any capacity, your attorney can take the lead and advocate for your interests.

  1. Potential for Expedited Case

Depending on your individual circumstances and the applicable laws, your adoption attorney may be able to help you cut through some of the bureaucracy and red tape that is typical with these types of matters. Sometimes, having access to the right resources and a strong understanding of the process can help speed things up and eliminate any potential roadblocks.

  1. Handle Communication

When you adopt a child, you may need to remain in close contact with an adoption agency and/or the birth parents. Just because you’re adopting a child, that doesn’t mean you aren’t busy. Your attorney is in the business of handling these communications and will make them a priority. Further, these communications can sometimes be delicate and uncomfortable. Your attorney can handle these on your behalf, particularly when it comes to postadoption agreements or “open adoptions.” Before you agree to one of these arrangements, make sure your attorney explains your rights and obligations.

  1. Special Complications

If you are a military couple, trying to adopt internationally, or a single parent or same-sex couple working with a private adoption agency, it can help to have a savvy adoption lawyer in your corner. A qualified attorney will understand the Connecticut laws and how they apply to your particular situation.

Get Help from a Connecticut Adoption Attorney Today

Hiring an adoption lawyer in Connecticut is helpful in many ways beyond the confines of courtrooms and documents. A qualified Connecticut adoption attorney will give you the right guidance and help pave the way for an easier and more meaningful procedure.

If you are thinking about adopting a child in Connecticut, The Christie Law Firm, LLC can answer your questions and offer the support you need throughout the process. Call our Hartford office today at (860) 461-7494 or reach out to us online to schedule an initial consultation.

What Are the Criteria for Adopting a Child in Connecticut?

If you’re thinking about adopting a child in Connecticut, you’ll want to make sure you meet the state’s adoption requirements. Adoption laws vary from state to state, and many of the rules can be confusing.

The complexity of the process shouldn’t put you off from moving forward, but it’s important to get a firm handle on what you need to do to get to the finish line. If you have questions about adoption, an experienced Connecticut adoption attorney can provide the answers you need. Here is what you need to know about eligibility for adopting a child in Connecticut:

Laws and Qualifications for Adopting a Child in Connecticut

According to Connecticut law, any adult ages 21 or over is eligible to adopt a child. Adoption is available to single parents as well as same-sex couples. If a married couple is adopting, they must do so jointly unless an exception is made by the court.

Laws to Become a Foster Parent in Connecticut

Foster parents often become adoptive parents after making a strong connection with a child. In Connecticut, you must also be age 21 or older to act as a foster parent. Further, you must be of good character, complete a background check, provide a supportive home environment, complete a home study, and attend a 10-week training program.

Who Must Consent to a Connecticut Adoption?

In the state of Connecticut, the following people must consent to an adoption:

  • A statutory parent
  • A parent who consents to a stepparent adoption by a spouse because the other birth parent has died or has had their parental rights terminated
  • The child’s guardian who agrees to adoption by a relative

A birth parent who is a minor can consent to adoption. But the court will appoint a guardian ad litem to ensure that the parent is giving voluntary and informed consent. Any child aged 12 or older must consent to being adopted.

Birth parents can voluntarily consent to adoption 48 hours after the birth of the child. Consent is made by a petition to voluntarily terminate parental rights that is filed with the appropriate probate court. If the birth parents are unmarried, the petition should state whether a putative father exists that will be given notice of the adoption. Anyone claiming to be the father of the child has 60 days to object to a notice and file a paternity claim.

Parental consent is not necessary in cases where the court finds that a parent has:

  • Abandoned the child
  • Been found guilty of child abuse or neglect or sexual assault that resulted in conception of the child
  • Failed to establish an ongoing relationship with the child
  • Had their parental rights to another child terminated
  • Deliberately harmed another child or conspired to harm a child

What Expenses Can Adoptive Families Pay or Collect?

Adoption can be a costly process and giving birth can be expensive as well. Prospective adoptive parents in Connecticut are permitted to pay up to $1,500 towards the birth mother’s living expenses. Any costs above this figure must be approved by the court.

Any family adopting a special needs child in this state can apply for a medical and/or financial subsidy. This financial assistance helps pay for living expenses and the support of the medical and emotional needs of children who qualify.

What is Connecticut’s Home Study Requirement for Adoptions?

Most adoptions in Connecticut involve a mandatory Home Study except for stepparent adoptions. The study is completed by the state’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) or a child placement agency, and it must be completed within 60 days of the court’s request.

The purpose of the home study is to ensure that the adoptive home is suitable and safe for the child. It includes a child abuse registry check and criminal records check for anyone in the home ages 16 and over.

Most home studies are routine, but the agency will not approve the study if anyone in the household has been convicted of a violent crime or had a substantiated case of child abuse or neglect.

Get Help from a Connecticut Adoption Attorney Today

Adoption is incredibly rewarding, but it doesn’t come without considerable determination and effort. If you are thinking about adopting a child, having an experienced Connecticut adoption attorney in your corner can take some of the stress and confusion out of this process. At The Christie Law Firm, LLC, we can answer any questions you have about adoption and are standing by to fully represent your interests throughout this process. Call our Hartford office at (860) 461-7494 or reach out to us online for an initial consultation.

Adopting a Special Needs Child in Connecticut – Subsidized Adoptions

According to the National Adoption Center, there are over 130,000 children with “special needs” in this country awaiting permanent homes. In the context of child welfare, foster care, and adoption, “special needs” refers not only to children with disabilities but also to those whose risk factors for disability, race, ethnic, age, or other characteristics make them more challenging to place.

Adoption is a gift for both the child and their adoptive family. But, it is an extremely important decision that can create financial hardships, particularly if a child has special needs. In the state of Connecticut, a child may be eligible for a subsidy through the state if they qualify.

What is Connecticut’s Adoption Subsidy Program?

Children with special needs who are adopted may qualify for adoption assistance or subsidies. These are programs under the Federal Title IV-E (part of the Social Security Act) as well as from the state itself.

In Connecticut, the adoption assistance program is run entirely by the state, but 50% of it is funded by the Federal Title IV-E program. The State of Connecticut outlines the process for how families can qualify for and collect these subsidies.

Who is Eligible for a Subsidized Adoption in Connecticut?

Special needs children are not only more difficult to place in adoptive homes. The costs of caring for these children are also sometimes higher than with other children. Connecticut defines special needs children as those who meet one or more of the following conditions:

  • Physical or mental disability
  • Severe emotional maladjustment
  • Over age eight
  • Age of two or over and having ethnic or racial factors presenting barriers to adoption
  • High risk of physical or mental disability
  • Part of a sibling group that should be placed together

If a child is being adopted from a private agency, parents should determine if there is eligibility for subsidies or assistance before the adoption is finalized.

What is the Amount of the Benefit?

Children with special needs who are adopted in Connecticut may qualify for subsidies, which are paid to adoptive families to help defray expenses related to the child’s need for ongoing treatment, therapy, or to cover one-time expenses.

In Connecticut, the current per diem (daily) adoption assistance rate is equal to 100% of the USDA’s estimate of the cost of raising a child. The rate varies based on the age of the child:

  • Ages 0-5:    $25.99 per diem
  • Ages 6-11:  $26.29 per diem
  • Ages 12-18 $28.52 per diem

A child diagnosed with a “medically complex” condition will receive assistance in line with the care and attention they require up to a maximum of $47.10 per diem. These children must meet specific requirements, and their cases are reviewed annually.

Any financial subsidy you receive for your child is not considered income for tax purposes. In the event this changes, please verify this information on the IRS website.

There are other nonrecurring benefits available as well. These include:

  • Up to $750 per child for expenses directly related to adoption
  • Up to one year of childcare expenses paid through Care4Kids

According to Connecticut law, regular financial subsidies end on the child’s 18th birthday. But, if a child was adopted after age 16, the financial subsidy can continue until age 21 as long as the child is enrolled and attending a post-secondary educational program on a full-time basis.

How to Apply for a Subsidized Adoption

The Department of Children and Families (DCF) administers Connecticut’s adoption subsidy program. The prospective adoptive family and the DCF social worker should negotiate the adoption assistance agreement before the adoption is finalized. The DCF Central Office will make a final determination about assistance.

Upon finalization of the adoption by the Probate Court, DCF will begin making monthly subsidy payments to the family. These checks are generally issued on the 15th of each month.

DCF will conduct an annual review of every case to confirm the continuing need for a subsidy. Adoptive parents will need to submit a sworn statement indicating that the special need continues to exist, and that the child remains a legal dependent. The Adoption Subsidy Review Board has the option to continue, reduce, or terminate payments, but major changes won’t be made without the benefit of a hearing.

Get Help from An Experienced Connecticut Adoption Attorney

Adoption is an emotional and complex process. It’s certainly not something you should approach without a thorough understanding of your rights and obligations under the law. As a trusted and knowledgeable adoption attorney, it is my honor to help bring families and children together using strong legal agreements. Contact our Hartford office today to learn more about how we can assist you with a special needs adoption in Connecticut. Our office number is (860) 461-7494.

How Does Adoption Work in Connecticut?

One of the most precious gifts you can give a child is a stable and supportive home. If you are thinking about adopting a child in Connecticut, there is a lot to consider. The laws surrounding adoption can be complex, and you may want a trusted legal advocate in your corner to protect your rights and guide you through this process.

Here is what you need to know about adopting a child in Connecticut. But keep in mind that this information does not take the place of having the personalized legal attention you deserve during this challenging process.

Who is Eligible to Adopt a Child in Connecticut?

In Connecticut, the law permits any adult age 18 or over to adopt a child. If you are married and wish to adopt, both spouses must jointly adopt the child. The state does not discriminate based on marital status or sexual orientation, but private adoption agencies are permitted to have their own rules.

Convicted felons are not excluded from adopting, but the process may be more difficult for people who have a criminal record. Some disqualifying crimes include spousal or child abuse/neglect and violent crimes such as sexual assault and homicide.

How Consent Works With Adoption

Consent may be required from any number of parties before a child can be adopted in Connecticut. These include:

  • The statutory parent
  • A parent who agrees to allow their spouse to apply for stepparent adoption
  • A child’s guardian who agrees in writing to an adoption

If the child’s parent is a minor, they can give consent for adoption despite their minor status. The court will appoint a guardian ad litem to ensure the parent is making an informed and voluntary decision about the adoption.

Connecticut law requires that a child’s mother must wait 48 hours after the birth of her child before consenting to an adoption. Then, she can petition for the voluntary termination of her parental rights. If the mother is not married, the petition must indicate whether there is a putative father who must receive an official notice about the adoption.

A man that has not been named as the father by the court, does not have their name on the birth certificate, has not filed a claim for paternity, or has not regularly contributed to support the child will not have any legal rights to the child when it comes to adoption. But, if a man claims to be the father of the child, they have 60 days after the date of notice to file a claim for paternity.

Parental consent to adoption may not be necessary if the courts determine that the parent has done any of the following:

  • Physically or sexually abused the child
  • Abandoned the child
  • Failed to establish an ongoing relationship with the child
  • Had their parental rights to another child terminated
  • Ever been found guilty of child neglect
  • Deliberately assaulted a child
  • Deliberately participated in the death of a child
  • Been convicted of sexual assault that resulted in the conception of the child

The Adoption Process in Connecticut

Adoption can be a joyous event, but it is always going to be a complex process. Even if you have an agreement with a birth parent or are doing a second-parent or stepparent adoption, you will still have to jump through some hoops to get to the finish line.

Adoption Home Study

In most cases, the courts will require that you submit to an adoption home study. This is the state’s assessment of your readiness to adopt a child. It includes a background check, interviews with each person living in the home, and an in-person home inspection. The requirement for a home study can often be waived in cases involving second-parent or stepparent adoption.

Post-Placement Study

If you had a home study prior to being approved, you will likely have some follow-up visits. These post-placement visits are meant to ensure that all parties are adjusting well to the new arrangement, the child is developing as expected, your home is in the same shape it was during the initial visit, and you are ready to finalize the adoption process.

Finalizing Your Adoption

The adoption process is not complete when the adoptive parents bring the child into their home. In Connecticut, it can take anywhere from six months to one year to finalize an adoption.

At the adoption finalization hearing, the parent(s), child, and their adoption attorney will meet in front of a judge. After answering the judge’s questions and providing testimony about your intent to provide the child with a loving and safe home, the judge will sign a final decree of adoption.

Get Help from a Connecticut Adoption Attorney

If you have questions about adoption, the knowledgeable Connecticut adoption attorney at The Christie Law Firm, LLC can provide you with the personalized assistance you need. Our firm offers support and guidance throughout the adoption process, with a focus on adoption cases that involve the CT Department of Children and Families (DCF).

Call our Hartford office today at (860) 461-7494 or send us a message through our website to schedule your initial consultation.