In adoption, when are the birthparents’ rights terminated?
The birthparent is required to meet with an Assessor or Social Worker, who explains the birthparents' rights and ensures he or she understand what they are signing. If the birthparents meet with the Assessor/Social Worker before the child is born, then the birthparents' rights may be terminated 72 hours after the child is born. If the birthparents fail to meet with the Assessor/Social Worker before the child is born, then they would have to meet with the Assessor/Social Worker and then terminate their rights 72 hours after that meeting. If you are involved in an agency adoption, consents/surrenders are done outside of Court, usually at the agency's office, with no judge present. As this is a very important part of the adoption, it is strongly recommended that a probate attorney be present to witness the surrender and insure its legality, hopefully preventing future issues with the birth parents.
Do I need an attorney for an International Adoption?
An attorney isn't absolutely necessary as international adoptions are usually finalized in the country of origin and/or birth country of the child, and are usually facilitated by an adoption agency that works in that country or is accredited by that country to facilitate international adoptions. Once back in the States with the internationally adopted child, a process called re-finalization or re-adoption can take place so that the child can have an American birth certificate from your state of residence as well as certified copies of the child’s birth certificate from your state department of vital records (needed for school registration, athletics, etc.). A legal name change can also be completed during re-adoption or re-finalization. In Michigan, this process doesn't require an attorney but if you have questions about the process, you can seek information from your county Probate Court, a reputable adoption agency or a local attorney experienced with international adoptions.
What are post-adoption contact agreements and are they enforceable in Michigan?
Post-adoption contact agreements are arrangements specifying some kind of future contact between a child's adoptive family and members of the child's birth family or someone else with whom the child has an established relationship, such as a foster parent, once the child's adoption has been finalized. Courts in Michigan do not currently enforce such agreements. So, though an adoptive parent may agree to send letters and pictures of the child in the future, there is no legal recourse with the Michigan court system for the birth parent(s) if this does not happen.
Can I create my own surrogacy agreement with a prospective birth mother?
This is not advisable. Surrogacy laws vary from state to state. An attorney experienced in Michigan surrogacy law can help to ensure the surrogacy process is as smooth and legally secure as possible. Surrogacy attorneys can help to select and screen a surrogate, prepare a surrogate agreement and all court documents, review medical insurance coverage and answer questions about medical decisions for the surrogate and manage any financial compensation for the surrogate. Lastly, once the baby or babies are born, the surrogacy attorney can oversee the processing of the birth certificate(s) in Probate court in accordance with Michigan law and to reflect the new parents’ names.
Do Michigan laws prevent me from adopting a child from another state?
No, Michigan laws do not limit you to adopting available children or infants only from the state in which you live. Attorneys experienced in “interstate” adoptions can advise you on your rights and the laws related to such adoptions.
We would like to adopt a child. How can we best prepare ourselves?
Prospective adoptive parents might consider attending adoption classes or adoption "academies" offered by your local Children’s Hospital or religious institution. An experienced adoption attorney or reputable adoption agency can also direct you to resources to prepare for the legal, emotional and household changes that come with adoption. In Franklin County, the Michigan Department of Job and Family Services and the Franklin County Probate Court are also good sources of information.
Is a home-study necessary?
Yes, in Michigan a home study is required in every adoption, and will be conducted by an adoption agency or a Probate Court Assessor.