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Navigating the World of Connecticut Adoption

Deciding to adopt is one of the most joyous times in one’s life. However, navigating the legal field surrounding adoption may seem daunting. Having a basic understanding of how the process works can alleviate unnecessary stress.

Adoption is the legal process that establishes, by court order, the legal relationship of parent and child. Connecticut law provides for adoption by three different means: 1) stepparent adoption; 2) relative adoption; and 3) statutory parent adoption (through the Department of Children and Families or an approved child-placement agency). In Connecticut, the law does not provide for direct adoption between intended adoptive parents and biological parents.

The most common type of adoption in Connecticut is stepparent adoption. This is when the spouse of the child’s parent wishes to adopt the child. In the case of adoption by a relative, the person seeking to adopt the child must not be more than three generations removed from the child and be related to the child by blood or adoption. Statutory parent adoption is where a child is placed for adoption through either the Department of Children and Families (DCF) or an approved child-placing agency. In all situations, prior to adoption, the child’s biological parent(s) must either have passed away or have had terminated their parental rights.

Termination of parental rights is a process in and of itself. It is where a parent’s parental rights are terminated by court order, and the court completely severs the legal relationship of parent-child, terminating with it all rights and responsibilities. Once parental rights are terminated, the child is free for adoption. In order to being the adoption process, an application for adoption is filed with the probate court.

The court is required to determine the best interests of the child. As such, the court may require that an investigation be completed, and a report submitted to the court for review prior to holding a hearing on the application for adoption. An investigation is mandatory in cases of co-parent or relative adoption. The purpose of the investigation is to ascertain the overall needs of the child and the abilities of those adopting to meet those needs. Generally, the cost of that investigation will fall on the adoptive parents.

At the hearing, if the court believes that the adoption is in the best interests of the child, it will approve the application. The law prohibits a denial of the application solely due to the adopting parent’s marital status, race, color or religion.

Attorneys armed with an understanding of applicable statutes and case law can best advise clients regarding adoption proceedings.
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