The Process

Adoption is both a social and a legal process.  The process differs slightly according to the laws of the state involved.  These procedures are also affected if either birth parent is a member of a Native American tribe.  The following is a brief overview for adoptions in Oklahoma and Texas.

Pregnancy:

Once an expectant mother decides that placing the baby for adoption is her best option, she will need to contact an agency or an attorney for support and help with the process.  The agency will help ensure that the expectant mother secures prenatal health care.  We will also act as a liaison for other community resources for the expectant parents.  Both parents, if possible, begin filling out health and social histories and other required forms.  The expectant parents decided on the amount of “openness” they are comfortable in having with the potential adoptive family.  If the expectant parents would like to, they will be shown profiles of the potential adoptive families so they can decide on who would be the best match for them.

Birth Father:

In Oklahoma, if the woman is married then her husband is legally recognized as the baby’s father.  If she is not married or her husband is not the birth father, then the presumed father of the baby is called a “putative father”.   The father of the baby has to agree to an adoption.  The agency is able to help navigate this issue even if the woman is not sure who the father may be.  There are steps that must be legally taken before a judge will also the adoption to go forward.  The putative father may voluntarily relinquish his parental rights before the birth of the baby by signing a legal form (EXTRA-JUDICIAL CONSENT FORM) provided he is not a member of a Native American tribe.  If the putative father is not in contact with the expectant mother, he will be served with a NOTICE OF A PLAN FOR ADOPTION during the pregnancy.

The Delivery:

Your Adoption Affiliates caseworker facilitates the expectant parent’s wishes as outlined in the hospital plan created prior to the birth (will she hold the baby, will she remain on the Maternity Floor, will she see the adoptive family…).  Your caseworker will assist the hospital staff to provide support to the birth family and the adoptive family and provides the necessary documentation to place the newborn with the adoptive family once the baby is discharged from the hospital.

Consent to Adopt and Relinquishment:

The birth mother in Oklahoma is not able to relinquish her parental rights until the baby is born and she is required to appear in front of a judge in order to sign a CONSENT TO ADOPT FORM and the RELINQUISHMENT OF PARENTAL RIGHTS FORM.  It is the policy of Adoption Affiliates, Inc. to wait at least 48 hours after the delivery before scheduling that court appearance.  If the birth father did not already sight the EXTRA-JUDICIAL CONSENT FORM prior to the birth, he may attend the court appearance to sign his CONSENT TO ADOPT AND RELINQUISHMENT.  If the putative father is unknown, there are several steps the caseworker and agency attorney must follow and present to the judge at this hearing for his TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS.  Relinquishment/termination is irrevocable.  Only in extraordinary instances can one petition the court to review it within 30 days of the Judge’s ruling.

Native American Tribal Members:

According to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), if either birth parent is a member of a Native American tribe, they must receive approval from their tribe to proceed with an adoption outside of the tribe and wait 10 days from the birth of a child before signing the CONSENT TO ADOPT and RELINQUISHMENT OF PARENTAL RIGHTS.

Placement:

The term for the moment the adoptive family becomes responsible for the newborn is called “placement”.  If all is going typically, then the adoptive parents complete all the placement paperwork and are given placement of the baby at the hospital.  Adoption Affiliates, Inc. is still legally considered the managing conservator for the next 6 months – until the adoption becomes final.  If the child is to be placed across state lines then there will be a waiting period of 5-10 days before the agencies in both states grant approval for the adoptive parents to travel home with the baby.  The agency conducts monthly post-placement visits and requires medical and developmental reports from the adoptive family.

 

If there is an issue with the parental rights, or ICWA delays, then Adoption Affiliates, Inc keeps licensed transitional foster homes (which serve our agency alone) to host the newborn until all issues are resolved.

 

Post placement counseling for the birth parents may continue if requested.  Pictures and updates on the child may be sent through the agency.

Finalization:

After 6 months, a court date is set for finalization .  If all requirements are met by the adoptive parents, then the Judge will sign the petition and the adoption is finalized.  Amended birth certificates will be ordered.

Consent to Adopt and Relinquishment:

The birth mother in Oklahoma is not able to relinquish her parental rights until the baby is born and she is required to appear in front of a judge in order to sign a CONSENT TO ADOPT FORM and the RELINQUISHMENT OF PARENTAL RIGHTS FORM.  It is the policy of Adoption Affiliates, Inc. to wait at least 48 hours after the delivery before scheduling that court appearance.  If the birth father did not already sight the EXTRA-JUDICIAL CONSENT FORM prior to the birth, he may attend the court appearance to sign his CONSENT TO ADOPT AND RELINQUISHMENT.  If the putative father is unknown, there are several steps the caseworker and agency attorney must follow and present to the judge at this hearing for his TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS.  Relinquishment/termination is irrevocable.  Only in extraordinary instances can one petition the court to review it within 30 days of the Judge’s ruling.