What is a Petition for Adoption?

Mary McMahon

A petition for adoption is a formal legal request asking for permission to adopt a child. It is part of a larger legal case conducted to confirm the suitability of adoptive parents for a placement and to formalize adoption proceedings, making the child the legal responsibility of the adoptive parents. Processing adoptions can take time and usually requires a substantial number of legal forms and court appearances. Working with an attorney who specializes in adoptions can speed the process.

Adoptive parents may take on children from abusive homes.
Adoptive parents may take on children from abusive homes.

Before a child can be adopted, parental rights must be relinquished. This may be done voluntarily by someone who wishes to give up a child or a court may decide to terminate parental rights in a case where it feels someone is an unfit parent and will not be able to take charge of the child at any point in the future. The child may be placed in fostering during this period, and there is a possibility that prospective adoptive parents can foster the child while working on the petition for adoption.

A mother deemed mentally unstable may relinquish her parental rights.
A mother deemed mentally unstable may relinquish her parental rights.

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In the petition for adoption, the situation is clearly discussed to provide information about the adoptive parents and their suitability for providing care to a child. Usually, supporting information like the results of inspections by representatives of child welfare agencies must be provided. People should be able to show that they are financially capable of providing childcare and should provide evidence of commitment to the child for life.

The petition for adoption is filed with the court, asking a judge to hear the case. Depending on the nature of the case, it may move through smoothly and very quickly. Other cases may drag on if there are doubts or concerns. People preparing for an adoption are often advised to do as much work as possible ahead of time so the results of inspections are readily available, along with financial records and other documents. Having this information ready when the court requests it will streamline the process.

People filing a petition for adoption appear in court to answer questions from the judge and provide information. The judge wants to make sure the child is well placed before finalizing paperwork to formalize the adoption. Once the judge has been satisfied, a legal writ can be issued, indicating that an adoption has taken place and providing the adoptive parents with parental rights and responsibilities. This paperwork should be safely stored, along with other important legal documents.

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