(971) 237-3804 aron@mcminnvillelegal.com 315 NE Evans # 8-9 - McMinnville, OR 97128

The Perez-Selsky Law Office has helped unite families across the United States through adoption.

Adoption is one of the most serious actions a court can take. Since adoptions result in the permanent termination of parental rights, and the conferral of those rights to a new parent, courts require consent from many different entities before they will approve an adoption. Success demands responsive, ongoing coordination between the attorney, the court, multiple state agencies, birth parents, and other interested parties. This complexity is magnified tenfold in cases involving non-consenting birth parents, or those under the auspices of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, or the Indian Child Welfare Act.

A failed adoption can squander thousands of dollars, and inflict incalculable heartache on the adoptive family. Aron Perez-Selsky has helped hundreds of petitioners overcome the hurdles of adoption in domestic, interstate, and international adoptions. Call today to see how we can help you build your family.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the legal consequences of adoption?

Adoption is a two-stage process whereby the rights and responsibilities of the adoptee’s birth parent are terminated, and conferred to a new parent.

Termination of parental rights has the effect of relieving the adoptee’s birth parent of future child support obligations and liability in civil or juvenile court for the acts of the adoptee. Further, neither the birth parent nor the adoptee is considered a heir for the purposes of Oregon’s intestate statute (which determines how a person’s estate is distributed upon his or her death in the absence of a will).

The birth parent also loses the legal authority to make decisions for the adoptee, such as where he or she lives, goes to school, and with whom the adoptee associates. All of these rights and responsibilities are conferred on the adoptive parents.

Adoption does not prevent a birth parent from contacting or having a relationship with their former child. However, the adoptive parent can restrict a birth parent from having contact with the child at their discretion.  If you or a family member have more questions about the legal effects of an adoption, call a McMinnville adoption attorney today to learn more.

What is an adoption home study?

An adoption home study is an intensive investigation into the life and circumstances of the adoptive family.

The investigation is conducted by a social worker employed by the State or a licensed private agency. After finishing the investigation the social worker drafts a report describing the family’s living situation. This report is submitted to the court along with the petition to adopt.

The adoptive family is expected to assist the social worker by gathering documents and answering personal questions. To prepare for a home study adoptive parents should ask themselves why they want to adopt, and what effect it will have on their family. While the length of time it takes to complete a home study varies by agency, most home studies are completed within 3-6 months.

Adoptive parents should anticipate inquiries into the following areas of their life:

  1. Personal background, including parenting style, discipline, family activities, personal values, and other children’s attitude towards adoption.
  2. Physical Health, including past health problems and family history.
  3. Criminal background (traffic tickets are not a concern, but prior misdemeanors and felonies may present a problem).
  4. Environment, including neighborhood, local schools, and community resources for special needs children.
  5. Financial well-being, including income, expenses, education, savings, investments, and debt.

Is there any way to defray some of the costs of adoption?

Many adoptive parents can claim an adoption tax credit for qualified adoption expenses. The adoption tax credit can significantly reduce the financial burden of adoption because unlike a deduction, it reduces the family’s income tax bill dollar-for-dollar for every dollar spent on qualified adoption expenses (up to $13,570 in 2017).

“Qualified adoption expenses” include:

  1. Attorney fees and court costs.
  2. Reasonable and necessary adoption fees.
  3. Travel expenses, including amounts spent for meals and lodging while away from home.
  4. Other expenses that are directly related to and for the principal purpose of the legal adoption of an eligible child.

Families adopting a special needs child may claim the $13,570 credit regardless of whether they incurred qualified adoption expenses. Further information on the adoption tax credit is available at:

https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc607.html

Families adopting special needs children may also qualify for adoption assistance in the form of cash or medical support under Title IV-E.

In addition, the National Adoption Foundation offers grants and low interest loans to qualifying families to help offset adoption expenses. More information on these programs is available here:

https://fundyouradoption.org/

Finally, many employers offer benefits to employees who adopt. This may include paid and unpaid leave immediately after placement, reimbursement for expenses, and referrals. Your human resources department will have more information on the benefits available at your workplace.

A McMinnville adoption attorney can refer you to local resources for securing financial assistance for your adoption.

Is there anything about my background that could prevent me from adopting a child?

Convictions for certain crimes can bar a person from being permitted to adopt a child. A criminal records check is required for an adoptive parent and any other individuals over 18 living in the household.

Under Oregon law no child may be adopted by any individual with convictions in the following crime categories:

  1. Violence, including rape, sexual assault, and homicide, but not including other physical assault or battery.
  2. Intentional starvation or torture.
  3. Abuse or neglect of a child.
  4. Spousal abuse.
  5. Aiding, abetting, attempting, soliciting, or conspiring to cause the death of a child.
  6. Sodomy or sexual abuse.
  7. Physical assault, battery, or a drug-related offense within the preceding five years.
  8. A conviction for any other crime does not permanently bar a prospective parent from adopting.

If you have been convicted of a crime not described above, the Oregon Department of Human Service Department Manager in your County may grant an exception if he or she determines that you possess the qualifications to be an adoptive parent regardless of the criminal conviction. In determining whether to grant an exception, the Department Manager considers the severity, nature, and circumstances surrounding the crime, the relationship of the criminal activity to your capacity to safely provide the proposed care, and any evidence of rehabilitation.

Talk to a McMinnville adoption lawyer if you have questions about how your record could effect your adoption.

Do I have to submit to a home study?

Normally an adoption must be preceded by a home study by a qualified agency. However, the Oregon Department of Human Services may waive the home study requirement under the following circumstances:

  1. Adoption by Relative: A home study may be waived where the adoptive parent is the child’s grandparent, sibling, aunt, or uncle, and the child has resided with the prospective parent since birth for at least six months, or on a continuous basis for one or more years immediately prior to the filing of the adoption petition.
  2. Stepchild Adoption: Where an adoptive parent is a step- parent of the adoptee, a home study may be waived under certain conditions.
    Second-Parent Adoption: A home study may be waived where one of the petitioners is the child’s biological or adoptive parent, but the co-petitioner and the parent are not married.
  3. Surrogate parents: A home study may be waived where one of the petitioners is the biological parent, but the child is brought to term and delivered by a gestational carrier.
  4. Foster parents: A home study may be waived where the petitioners and/or child are currently receiving services from the Oregon Department of Human Services Office of Safety and Permanency for Children (“OSPC”) or have received such services within the last 12 months.

What can a grandparent do to preserve his or her relationship with a child being adopted?

Grandparents with an existing relationship with the child can enter into a post-adoption agreement with the adoptive parents to preserve the right to maintain a relationship with the child.

If the adoptive parents deny consent to a post-adoption agreement, grandparents may seek visitation rights in the context of a second parent/step-parent adoption. Grandparents may be awarded post-adoption visitation rights only if they can prove by clear and convincing evidence that establishing visitation rights is in the best interests of the child, a substantial relationship existed prior to the adoption between the child and the grandparent, and that establishing visitation rights would not substantially interfere with the relationship between the child and the adoptive family.

To be clear, these options are not limited to grandparents. Any birth relative can pursue these options to preserve their connection with a child to be adopted. Talk with a McMinnville adoption attorney today to learn about your rights in the context of an adoption.

Can same sex couples adopt in the State of Oregon?

A same sex partner of a parent to whom a child is born may adopt that child as a second-parent/step-parent. Same sex parents are subject to the same rules and limitations as any other parent in the context of second-parent and step-parent adoptions.

An adoptive parent does not have to register as a domestic partner with the child’s birth parent to adopt the child. Once the adoption is completed, the child’s birth certificate can be modified to recognize the adoption. Registration as a domestic partnership by itself does not create a parental relationship under law; only a second-parent/step-parent adoption can confer the rights and responsibilities of a legal parent.

Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is outlawed in the State of Oregon. The State cannot discriminate against same sex partners interested in adopting children in State custody, and courts cannot deny petitions to adopt by same sex partners on the basis of sexual orientation.

The Perez-Selsky Law Office takes great pride in helping people of all backgrounds and sexual orientation achieve legal recognition of their family.

What is an "open" adoption?

In an open adoption the adoptive parents and birth parents share contact information. The degree of contact between a birth parent and their child post-adoption depends on the unique circumstances of each case. Contact can range from regular visits, to letter and photo exchanges, to a simple exchange of names and contact information.

A written agreement describing the degree of post adoption contact is the best way to ensure that the emotional bond between a birth relative and child is preserved. These post adoption agreements must be approved by the court as a part of the adoption proceeding, but once approved can be enforced by named birth parents or relatives with an ongoing personal relationship with the child. If the child adopted is over the age of 14, he or she must also consent to the post adoption agreement.

Can I adopt an adult?

A person over 18 or who is married may be adopted without parental consent. An adoption of a person over 18 is called an “adult adoption” and is typically initiated to obtain legal recognition of a pre-existing parental relationship, or for the purposes of inheritance.

Because an adoption confers the right of both the adoptive parent and the adoptee to inherit property through the other, both must consent to the adoption in writing. A court will only allow an adult adoption if it finds that both parties understand the significance and ramifications of the adoption, and are not acting under duress, coercion or undue influence.

Most adult adoptions can be completed quickly, and at minimal expense. Talk with a McMinnville adoption lawyer today to learn more.

Can I adopt a child from another country?

Oregon recognizes all adoptions of international children if at least one of the adoptive parents is a U.S. citizen, and the adoption is valid and legal in the foreign nation where the adoption occurred.

International adoptions are very complex, requiring strict compliance with Oregon law, the laws of the foreign country, international treaties like the Hague, and U.S. immigration law.  Talk to an experienced McMinnville adoption lawyer today to learn more about forming your family. 

Are there special rules governing adoptions of Indian children?

Adoptions of American Indian children are governed by the Indian Child Welfare act or “ICWA.” ICWA governs adoptions of all children who are members of an Indian Tribe, or who are eligible for membership in an Indian Tribe.

Indian tribal courts have exclusive power over adoptions of Indian children residing or domiciled within a reservation. State courts share power over adoptions of Indian children living outside of reservations, but tribes have unlimited power to intervene as a party in such proceedings.

Whereas most adoptions require only the consent of the child’s parents or guardians to go forward, in ICWA cases the tribe and child’s relatives must also consent to the adoption. Further, the parent’s consent must be given in writing before a judge, who must explain the consequences of signing the consent, and verify that the party understands the consequences of consenting to adoption.

Indian children must be placed with Indian families, and placement must be within the order of preference dictated by statute or the rules of the tribe. If the child’s parents are unable or unwilling to care for the child, members of the child’s extended family are given first priority for placement, followed by members of the child’s tribe, and finally, members of another Indian tribe. A child may only be placed outside of the order of preference if there is good cause to do so. Relatives must be given notice prior to entry of a judgment of adoption of an Indian child.

Parents may withdraw their consent at any time and for any reason prior to entry of a final judgment of adoption. If the parents withdraw their consent, the child must be immediately returned to their care. Even after the final judgment is entered, the parent may withdraw consent to adoption within two years if they can prove that their consent was obtained through fraud or duress. If a court finds that consent was obtained through fraud or duress, the adoption is invalidated, and the child must be returned to the parent’s care.

In short, failure to comply with the terms of ICWA carries enormous consequences, including substantial delays in the adoption process, and even invalidation of the adoption itself.

If there is any indication that a natural parent or child has Indian heritage, it is imperative that further inquiry be conducted to ensure that the provisions of ICWA are observed. Talk to a McMinnville adoption attorney today to safely navigate your way through adoption of an Indian child.

Why does ICWA exist?

While ICWA does erect many barriers between parents seeking to adopt and children needing a home, there are important historical reason those barriers exist.

Before ICWA was passed in 1978 State Child Welfare agencies removed children from Indian homes and communities at a far greater rate than other racial and ethnic groups. Prior to ICWA’s passage it was estimated that as many as one third of all Indian children were being removed from their homes and placed in non-Indian homes.

Although many of Indian children were removed due to unsafe conditions in the home, many others were removed due only to the practice of traditional customs. For example, in some tribes it was customary for parents to leave their children in the care of extended family. This practice was viewed as abandonment by most child welfare workers at the time, and if reported to State child welfare agencies would trigger removal of the child from the home. Many of these children would later be adopted by non-Indian families, causing all legal and cultural ties between the child and his or her tribe to be severed.

As a result of these practices, millions of Indian children were severed from their family, culture, and heritage. Besides the individual tragedy suffered by affected families, these practices threatened the integrity of the tribes themselves as sovereign political entities.

While ICWA may be viewed as an inconvenience in some adoptions, we shouldn’t forget that its passage was preceded by decades of destructive State action against Indian families from which the tribes are still recovering.

Are there special rules for adopting children from other states?

Adoption of out-of-state children must comply with the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (“ICPC”). The ICPC is an agreement between the States to follow identical procedures for the adoption of children across State lines.

The purpose of the ICPC is to confirm the identities, intent and suitability of adoptive families, and obtain approval for moving the child from both the sending State (the State where the child lives) and the receiving State (the State where the prospective parents live).

The ICPC procedure may begin upon termination or surrender of the natural parent’s rights. Once that is accomplished, the sequence for obtaining approval for moving the child out-of-state is as follows:

  1. The prospective parents travel to the sending State to accept placement of the child.
  2. While the prospective parents are in the State, the adoption agency or parent’s attorney submits the ICPC forms to the sending State’s ICPC office.
  3. The sending State forwards the approved forms to the receiving State’s ICPC office.
  4. The prospective parents are notified once the receiving State has approved the forms.
  5. The prospective parents are allowed to return to the receiving State with their child.

This procedure can take up to 10 business days to complete, so prospective parents should prepare for at least a two week stay in the sending State.

Prospective parents may not leave the State with the child until notified by the ICPC office that they may do so. Moving a child across State lines without following ICPC procedures is a class A-misdemeanor punishable with up to a year in jail and a $6250 fine (ORS 417.990). In addition, the adoption may be invalidated.

If you are a non-resident interested in adopting an Oregon child, or a resident looking to adopt an out-of-state child, talking with an experienced McMinnville adoption attorney early in the process can ensure a smooth transition of the child into your care.

Is it legal to pay for a birth parent's consent to adoption?

Selling or buying a person under 18 is a class-B Felony punishable with up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. If the transaction is completed, both the natural parent and the adoptive parent are guilty of the completed crime, and the adoption subject to invalidation.

Child selling is a serious crime. Don’t even think about it.

That said, it is legal for adoptive parents to pay the fees, costs, and expenses relating to an adoption. This includes:

  1. The birth mother’s medical bills relating to her pregnancy, child birth, and recovery.
  2. Satisfaction of either natural parent’s child support debt in exchange for consent of that parent to adoption by the partner of the custodial parent (i.e. second parent adoption).
  3. Fees for services provided by the Oregon Department of Human Services or licensed adoption agencies.
  4. Fees for services in an adoption pursuant to a surrogacy agreement.

Any payments made by the adoptive parents in connection to the adoption must be disclosed to the court pursuant to ORS 109.311.

Is it legal for someone to advertise that they were offering a child for adoption?

Advertisements offering children for adoption, or offering to “place, locate, dispose of, or receive a child for adoption,” may only be published by the Department of Human Services, a licensed Oregon adoption agency, an agent of DHS or a licensed adoption agency, or a person who has completed a valid home study and received a favorable recommendation regarding their fitness to adopt (or that person’s attorney).

Anyone else who publishes such an advertisement commits a class A-misdemeanor punishable with up to one year in jail and a $6250 fine pursuant to ORS 109.311(4) and ORS 109.990(2).

Note that there is nothing unlawful about merely discussing adoption with another person, or even offering to help someone through the adoption process by contacting appropriate public or private entities.

How does adoption relate to surrogacy?

Surrogacy is an arrangement in which a woman (“surrogate”) agrees to carry a child to term for another couple or individual (“intended parents”). A surrogacy arrangement is a popular alternative for many couples who are unable to conceive, and for whom artificial insemination is not an option.

Surrogacy has two forms: “traditional” and “gestational.”

In a traditional arrangement, the surrogate is inseminated with the sperm of the male partner. The embryo is thus genetically related to the male partner and the surrogate.

In a gestational arrangement, the surrogate carries an embryo to which she is genetically unrelated. The embryo may consist of the intended parent’s sperm and egg, or a combination of the intended parent’s sperm or egg and donor sperm or egg.

Whether a traditional or gestational surrogacy arrangement, the surrogate agrees that upon the child’s birth the surrogate will consent to adoption by the intended parents. This confers legal rights to the intended parents, and terminates whatever rights the surrogate may claim to the child. The surrogate may receive compensation for her services.

The law governing surrogacy in Oregon is somewhat uncertain. While Oregon Statute explicitly permits payment of surrogacy fees (ORS 163.537(2)(d)), case law appears to suggest that surrogacy agreements may not bind the court in determining child custody where such agreements fail.

If you are considering a surrogacy arrangement, it is crucial that you speak with a McMinnville adoption lawyer to guide you through this exciting, but turbulent area of law.