The questions and answers below deal with our same sex adoption services.
- What areas of family law does The Law Offices of Greenwood & Fink handle?
- What services does G & F provide for adoptions?
- Why should I come to Rhode Island for the birth of my child?
- Who signs the adoption petition?
- What about the biological father and mother?
- What documentation will I receive at the end of the adoption process?
- How will this process help me?
- What is a Home Study and who will prepare this?
- What expenses are involved?
1. What areas of family law does The Law Offices of Greenwood & Fink handle?
The Law Offices of Greenwood & Fink (G & F) handles all family court matters, including divorce, custody, child support, child welfare, and juvenile matters.
The firm has a significant adoption practice for all adults regardless of sexual preference or identity. Gay or lesbian couples may be having their own birth child, using a surrogate or adopting as a second parent or stepparent. If your child is born in Rhode Island, you will be able to have a birth certificate listing both partners as legal parents in addition to a decree of adoption.
2. What legal services does G & F provide in connection with adoptions?
G & F provides all legal services necessary to complete adoptions. For heterosexual couples with infertility problems and gay or lesbian couples, that may include preparing sperm or egg donor contracts and surrogacy agreements. It includes the termination of outstanding parental rights by working with sperm banks, egg donor clinics, fertilization specialists and biological parents. G&F can assist you with obtaining a home study and will file all the appropriate documents with the Rhode Island Family Court to effectuate an adoption.
3. Why should same sex couples reside in Rhode Island for the birth of their child?
Unlike some states, Rhode Island law allows gay and lesbian couples to adopt children. Accordingly, the Rhode Island Family Court routinely grants gay and lesbian adoptions (adoptions for same sex couples) and has been doing so for over fifteen years. After the adoption, the Rhode Island Department of Health, Division of Vital Statistics will amend a locally born child's birth certificate to name both same sex partners as parents. Despite a valid Decree of Adoption, not all states will issue such a birth certificate.
4. Who signs the adoption petition?
In both step parent and second parent adoptions, where the child is the biological child of one of the petitioners, Rhode Island law requires the child's biological parent to sign the adoption petition twice. He or she will first sign as the biological parent giving consent to the adoption, and again as the petitioner asking to be one of the adoptive parents. The unrelated parent signs the petition only once.
5. What about the biological father or mother?
Many lesbian couples will have used the services of a sperm bank. G & F will need an original letter or document from the sperm bank indicating that the father has given up his parental rights if indeed he has any. If the birth father is a known donor, his consent to the adoption must be obtained.
Many gay couples will use a surrogate. G & F can prepare surrogacy contracts or work with a surrogacy agency to facilitate placement and adoption of your child.
For adoptive couples who are unrelated to the child, G & F will work to obtain the biological parents' consent or to terminate their parental right to consent in accordance with Rhode Island law.
G & F will prepare all the pleadings required by the Rhode Island Family Court.
6. What documentation will I receive at the end of the adoption process?
All adoptive parents will receive a Decree of Adoption from the Rhode Island Family Court listing both partners as the legal parents of the child.
Shortly after the adoption, all heterosexual couples will receive a new birth certificate that lists both partners as the child's parents. For gay and lesbian parents, if your child is born in Rhode Island or a state that recognizes same sex adoptions, you will also receive a fully amended birth certificate that lists both partners as parents. Some states will not amend a birth certificate despite a valid adoption.
7. How will this process help me?
The adoption decree and/or birth certificate from Rhode Island will provide same sex adopting couples with the legal indicia of parenthood. You can use either document as evidence of your family relationship and parental rights. For example, the decree or birth certificate should provide you with rights to authorize medical treatment for your child, to participate in all school activities with your child, allow you to authorize your child to obtain a driver's license or allow you to apply for and obtain a passport.
The decree and birth certificate are the single most important documents reflecting your parenthood.
8. What is a Home Study and who will prepare this?
A Home Study is required by Rhode Island law to provide the court hearing the adoption with relevant personal information to assure it that it is in the best interests of the child to grant the adoption.
A Home Study typically involves several home visits by the social worker, references, completion of a self assessment form, a Background Criminal Investigation (BCI) from the local
law enforcement agency and a child welfare background check.
G & F can work with your adoption agency or recommend an adoption agency to work with you.
9. What expenses are involved?
Expenses include: 1) Home Study; 2) social services; 3) medical expenses and 4) legal fees.
There may be medical expenses, travel expenses and ordinary living expenses in connection with the pregnancy and birth of your child. You must estimate these and be prepared, especially with the medical expenses, to pay for them out of pocket and then seek insurance reimbursement.