What Are the Steps to Legal Adoption in Michigan?
The adoption process can vary from state to state and country to country. Each territory lays out its rules and regulations, which all involved party members must follow. While these laws can sometimes feel overwhelming or confusing, they are in place to keep the best interest of the child at the forefront of any decision-making.
Additionally, there are many different types of adoption, each with its own process. In Michigan, adoption is divided into different categories, including:
- Infant adoption
- Agency adoption
- Direct placement adoption
- State and court ward adoption
- Relative adoption
- Step-parent adoption
- Intercountry or interstate adoption
- Adult adoption
Regardless of which type of adoption applies to each case, there are some basic steps that almost all cases will follow.
Step 1: Filing a Petition
The prospective adoptive parents must first file a petition with the court to adopt a specific child. This filing should be done either in the county where the prospective parents reside or where the child is found.
Depending on the type of adoption, other legal paperwork will also be filed with the courts, such as signed consent forms from the adoption placement agency, the prospective parents, or a Department of Human Services (DHS) guardian.
Step 2: Investigation
Next, the court will order an investigation, ensuring the adoptee’s best interests are preserved. This investigation could include anything from requesting financial records to home visits to personal interviews or background checks for everyone who will live with the child or spend a reasonable amount of time with them.
Step 3: Ward of the Court
Once a judge has reviewed the investigation’s details and deemed that the best interests of the adoptee are met, they will terminate the rights of whoever was responsible for the child previously (i.e., adoption agency, DHS, birth parents). At this point, the adoptee becomes a ward of the court and can be placed in adoptive custody.
For the next six months — or potentially longer if determined to be necessary by the courts — an assignee is responsible for monitoring the adoptive placement to confirm the child’s best interests are being met. The assignee could again be someone from the adoption agency, DHS, or an agent of the court.
Step 4: Order of Adoption
After enough time has passed to determine the adoptee’s best interests are being met in their adoptive home, the court will issue an order of adoption. This order completes the process and officially deems the adoptive parent(s) to be the adoptee’s legal guardians.
To simplify something as complex as legal adoption into four steps leaves out the many contingencies and unique cases that the Michigan courts could be presented. Considerations such as what family name the child will take, whether financial assistance will be provided for the adoptive family, and whether there will be visitation or contact with former parents, to name a few, must also be taken into account.
Whether it be an infant adoption, step-parent adoption, international adoption, or even adult adoption, the laws must be strictly followed to provide each adoptee with the best home possible.
Too much information?
We focus exclusively on family law matters so we are always available to answer your questions and help.