Adoption can take many forms. You may be gaining parental rights over a step-child or bringing a new child into your family. It’s a rewarding process to adopt a child and expand your family or bring it closer together. The adoption process can, unfortunately, be overwhelming at times. The more you understand the requirements and types of adoption, the better equipped you are to get to the joy of adoption.
Legal Requirements to Adopt in Nebraska
In Nebraska, any adult can choose to adopt. However, if the child is over the age of 14, they must also consent to the adoption. Adopting a minor requires the adult to have lived in the state for six months before the adoption is finalized. This is not required for adult adoptions. Additionally, married adults must jointly adopt a child. This doesn’t apply to step-parents looking to adopt their step-children, as their spouse is already the legal parent of those children.
In order to complete a valid adoption, an adult must meet the requirements of the specific agency they are adopting through. While the exact requirements differ, this generally includes:
- The adult meets the age requirements, residency requirements, and necessary training needed to adopt in the state.
- The child or adult who is being adopted meets the requirements to be adopted and consents to the adoption if able to.
- All parties comply with the statutory procedures before and after adoption.
- There is a demonstration that the adoption is in the child’s interests.
- A home study, including visits, interviews, and a background check, is performed.
Type of Adoption Agency in Nebraska
There are two main agency types that adoption can go through:
- Private Adoption Agencies: There are several private adoption agencies in the state that handle adoptions.
- Private Personal Adoptions: There can be direct agreements between biological and adoptive parents to adopt a child. The biological parents must choose to give up their parental rights to the adoptive parents.
- State Foster Adoption Agency: Children are a part of the state foster system when a biological parent’s rights are terminated. Adoptions through foster agencies generally happen when a child has been in a foster family for a long period of time.
Communication Between Parents in an Adoption
Adoptions can have different levels of communication between parties. In an open adoption, there is communication between biological parents, adoptive parents, and children. The adoptive parents are still the legal parents of a child, but biological parents may have visits or long-distance communication with a child.
In a closed adoption, biological parents have no contact with the adoptive parents or the child. This form of adoption could be requested by either the biological parents or the adoptive parents.
Other Forms of Adoption
There are other forms of adoption, including:
- Step-Parent Adoption
When a biological parent has a spouse, that spouse may be able to adopt their step-children. If the second biological parent has either passed or is no longer involved, the step-parent may be able to gain parental rights, which can ensure they have legal rights and responsibilities to their step-children in the future.
In order to be eligible for step-parent adoption, the step-parent must have been married to the children’s biological or legal parent for six months and have lived with the child they are looking to adopt for six months. Both of the children’s legal and biological parents must consent to the adoption.
- Adult Adoption
In certain circumstances, an adult can be adopted. This may happen in a step-parent adoption or when parties have an established parent-child relationship before the child turns 19. Adult adoption may also be possible if an adult is mentally incapacitated. In order for an adult to adopt someone 19 years of age or older, some requirements include:
- The adult adopting them and the adopted person have had a parent-child relationship for at least six months prior to the child turning 19.
- The adopted person has no living parents.
- Their parents have no parental rights due to a court order or because they gave the person up for adoption.
- The parents have abandoned the child for at least six months prior to turning 19.
- Their parents are incapable of consenting to the adoption.
It can be useful to discuss any potential adoption with an adoption attorney to ensure the process goes smoothly.
Q: How Much Does It Cost to Adopt a Child in Nebraska?
A: The cost of adopting a child in Nebraska depends on several factors. Adopting from the foster system has no associated cost besides the high cost required to raise children. There are costs associated with private adoption agencies. These costs include court fees, adoption attorney fees, social services costs, travel expenses, adoption parent preparation courses, counseling services, and the medical costs of the birth parent.
Q: How Long Does the Adoption Process Take in Nebraska?
A: The process of adoption, including required training, can take anywhere from 12 weeks to a year or longer. There is a required program for foster and adoptive parents that takes 12 weeks, so this is the minimum amount of time the process will take when adopting through the state. Each private adoption agency may have different timelines. If you are adopting your step-children, you can do so after being married to their biological parent and living with the child for six months.
Q: What Are the Rules for Adoption in Nebraska?
A: In order to adopt, an adult must be eligible to adopt and have the ability to care for a child. The adoption must be in the child’s interests. Any eligible child can be adopted, but children the age of 14 or older must consent to the adoption. There must be evidence that the adoption is in the child’s interests and that all parties are complying with the statutory requirements before, during, and after adoption.
Q: How Old Do You Have to Be to Adopt a Child in Nebraska?
A: In Nebraska, you must be a legal adult who can physically and mentally provide for a child’s care and needs. You must also be able to have the financial ability to support a child. Private adoption agencies may have different age requirements, and some require adults to be 21 or older.
Legal Counsel Through the Adoption Process
The attorneys at Stange Law Firm can help you expand your family and bring it closer together. Contact our team today.