This post isn’t going to discuss the procedure for adopting a child
out of foster care or through a formalized adoption process. This is specifically
in regards to those unique situations where a spouse wants to adopt the
biological child of their partner and they have no idea where the other
biological parent is. The same applies to even more unique situations
where someone who is not even related to the child may try to adopt the
child with one parent’s permission, but the other parent is location unknown.
These are very unique situations, and while they appear to have the same
grandparents’ claiming rights to see their grandchildren, they actually don’t have as many restrictions.
The biggest restriction–obviously–is that the potential adoptive
parent must have permission from at least one biological parent. If one
biological parent is around and does not agree to let you adopt their
child, you have an entirely different situation that is far more complicated.
If your situation meets this requirement, read on.
Next step is to accept the fact that you will need an
experienced family law attorney to handle this matter with you. The procedure itself isn’t overly
complicated, but you will want to make sure all of the proper steps have
been taken from the get-go to ensure that the AWOL parent isn’t
able to appear out of the blue and take their child back. That is never
best for anyone, especially the child.
Together, with the biological parent who has given you consent to adopt
their child, you can file a suite to involuntarily terminate the missing
parent’s rights and adopt. The court will then appoint an attorney
ad litem to represent the other parent and try to locate him or her. If
the attorney is unsuccessful, then that parent will default and the adoption
proceeding can continue.
However, if the attorney ad litem is able to track down the wayward parent,
you may have a real fight on your hands if he or she does not consent
to the adoption. If this happens, you will be quite thankful indeed that
you do have a family law attorney on your side. The process will take
longer, and you and the consenting parent will have to prove to the court
that your adoption is in the child’s best interest. For example,
has the child been living with you for a couple of years, will the child
be exposed to irreparable emotional or physical harm if the other parent
takes custody, and/or will the child suffer irreparable emotional harm
if he or she is removed from your custody?
It’s a sticky situation, and hopefully one that can be resolved with
the least amount of conflict. To all potential adoptive parents who are
going through this or are about to go through this, know that the child
is truly blessed to have someone like you to step up and take charge of
his or her well-being.