- Timothy J. Conlon is an experienced divorce attorney in Providence, Rhode Island...
Providence Adoption Attorney
Adoption is the joyous step of making the addition of a child to your family a legal reality. Adoptions of children under 18 are filed by petition to the R.I. Family Court. The court requires a home study and, in most cases, the child must be in residence with the adoptive parents for at least six months before the adoption petition is filed. Either birth parents must consent to the adoption or their parental rights must be terminated. Once an adoption is granted the adoptive parent(s) acquires all of the rights and responsibilities of a birth parent towards a child.
A step-parent can adopt his/her spouse’s child if the child’s father/mother consents or if there are sufficient grounds to terminate his/her rights as a parent. In most cases of step-parent adoption, there has been a willful neglect of visitation and/or child support by the birth father. These factors are grounds for termination of a parent’s rights and we can help you bring security and stability to your child by cutting the legal tie to an absent or unfit parent and affirming the de facto parenthood of your spouse.
Often foster parents are encouraged to adopt their foster child when it becomes clear to DCYF that reunification with the birth parent is unlikely. In this case, DCYF will file and prosecute a petition to terminate the parental rights of the birth parents. Foster parents who have had a foster child in residence for two years have an independent right to file an adoption petition. However, they then bear the burden of proving that the rights of the child’s birth parents should be terminated.
When a child is adopted, his/her birth certificate is changed and your name(s) are placed on it. The child may want to change his/her first name. The last name is usually changed to yours. We will take care of the legal documentation necessary to accomplish this. As an adoptive parent, you assume legal responsibility to support, educate, feed, clothe and care for the child until he reaches the age of majority, just as any birth parent. You also have the right to control decisions regarding his health care, education, and general welfare.
Adult adoptees can only access their Family Court records if there is “good cause” for breaking the seal of confidentiality. Good cause may be found for compelling health issues that require historical information contained in the court record. In 2005, the R.I. General Assembly enacted a law requiring DCYF and other adoption agencies to disclose important medical, educational, psychological and genetic information on the child and significant non-identifying information and health history on the child’s birth family to prospective adoptive parents. Adoptees are now entitled to access to this information when they reach age 18.