Westminster Adoption Attorney
Adoption is a rewarding and life-changing process prospective parents undergo to legally add a child to their family. There are several types of adoption offered in Colorado.
Whether you are a prospective parent hoping to adopt a child from foster care or are a step-parent or grandparent wanting to adopt a child already in your custody, the attorneys at Danielsen Westhoff, PC, can assist you throughout the adoption process. If you looking to adopt, contact our Westminster adoption lawyers today for a free initial consultation.
Why Choose Danielsen Westhoff, PC, for Your Westminster Adoption?
At Danielsen Westhoff, PC, we understand the emotional complexities of adoption, and our family law attorneys offer compassionate and understanding legal counsel to prospective parents and families. We patiently address your questions and concerns and help you overcome obstacles as they arise.
Adoption can be stressful and overwhelming. Danielsen Westhoff, PC, relieves you of your legal burdens so you can focus on building your future family.
At Danielsen Westhoff, PC, our attorneys are skilled negotiators and trial attorneys. We are prepared to represent you regardless of your situation.
Contact our Westminster office now by calling (720) 739-1770 or sending an online message. We look forward to meeting with you in a confidential consultation.
What is Adoption?
Adoption is the legal process by which a child’s biological parent’s rights and responsibilities are terminated and permanently awarded to their adoptive parents.
How is Adoption Different from Custody or Guardianship?
Once a child is adopted, a biological parent cannot appear at some future point to reclaim the child. In guardianship, the biological parent’s rights and responsibilities are not terminated, but the child’s guardian is responsible for the child’s care and custody.
A person with legal custody of a child may find it easier to receive childcare assistance from the state than a guardian.
Who Can Adopt in Colorado?
Colorado allows any person over 21 to adopt a child. Persons under 21 may adopt with special permission from the court.
When spouses adopt, they must file joint petitions for adoption.
Can Someone with a Criminal Record Adopt?
Anyone convicted of a felony in any of the following areas cannot adopt in Colorado:
- Child abuse or neglect
- Spousal abuse
Nor can anyone convicted of a crime against a child, including, but not limited to:
- Child pornography
- Violation of a protective order
- Any crime of domestic violence
- Any crime involving violence, rape, sexual assault, or homicide
- Any felony physical assault or battery conviction, or felony drug-related conviction within the past five years
However, a person convicted of a misdemeanor in the above areas may be allowed to adopt with court approval.
Are Background Checks Required to Adopt?
Background checks are required to adopt in Colorado. Anyone petitioning the court to adopt a child and any adults residing within the adoptive home must complete the following three background checks:
- Colorado Bureau of Investigation
- FBI Fingerprint Identification
- Child Abuse and Neglect Records Check or CDHSTRAILS
Background checks must be completed within 90 days before filing, and copies of all three need to be attached to the adoption petition.
Types of Adoption in Colorado
Foster Care Adoption
Foster parents may adopt children from the state foster care system. However, the state’s goal for foster children is reunification with one or both biological parents.
Foster parents must meet state qualifications including a background check, home study, and foster care training. Relatives take precedence over unrelated foster parents in the foster care system.
Colorado has public and private adoption agencies that will match prospective parents with children available for adoption or pregnant mothers who have chosen adoption for their babies. Adoption agencies offer assistance to prospective parents throughout the adoption process.
Public adoption agencies are less expensive than private agencies, but the children may be older or have special needs. Private adoption agencies are more expensive but have more services, and the chances of adopting a young child are higher.
Regardless of what type of agency an adoptive parent chooses, it is wise they retain the services of an experienced adoption attorney. Doing so ensures their legal rights are protected and that adoption documents are correctly prepared and finalized.
Same-sex couples may be excluded from adopting through certain private religious adoptive organizations based on the organization’s religious beliefs.
Prospective parents may seek to adopt a child internationally. International adoptions may be private or agency adoptions.
Any agency adoption must meet international adoption laws and have the legal consent of the child’s birth parents. International adoptions can be lengthy, costly, and involve a great deal of paperwork.
Prospective parents should always choose a lawyer with international adoption experience to oversee the adoption process and protect the best interests of themselves and the adoptive child.
Kinship or Relative Adoption
Kinship, step-child, or relative adoptions are usually easier than other adoptions in Colorado as the courts tend to favor family members over other prospective parents. This is especially true in cases where a biological parent is deceased or voluntarily relinquishes their rights due to incarceration or drug addiction.
A child can be adopted by a step-parent by agreement of the custodial parent and upon the non-custodial parent’s:
- Abandonment of the child for a year or more
- Failure to provide reasonable support for the child for a year or more
- Consent to adoption
A home study may be waived in a kinship or step-parent adoption.
Adoption of a Child in a Non-Family Member’s Custody
A non-family member with legal custody or guardianship of a child can petition the court to adopt that child if:
- The child’s birth parents have abandoned the child for a year or more
- The child’s birth parents have failed to provide reasonable support for the child for a year or more
- The non-family member has legal custody over the child established either through an Allocation of Parental Responsibilities (APR) or a Guardianship case
This above type of adoption is called a Custodial Adoption.
Colorado also allows for adult adoption. An adult may be adopted for inheritance purposes or to legally recognize a stepparent/child relationship.
There are safeguards in place to ensure adult adoption is not used as a means of elder financial abuse.
What is a Family Assessment or Home Study?
Colorado requires prospective parents in kinship or custodial adoption cases to participate in a family assessment or home study. In a home study, a social worker from a licensed placement agency visits the prospective home, interviews and educates any adoptive parents, and prepares them for adoption.
The social worker evaluates the prospective parents and their homes and provides a written report to the court of any findings.
Contact an Experienced Westminster Adoption Attorney Today
If you would like more information about adoption in Westminster, contact an experienced attorney at Danielsen Westhoff, PC. We can walk you through your chosen adoption process and answer your most pressing adoption questions.
Let Danielsen Westhoff, PC, guide you through the adoption process and help you avoid common obstacles along the way. Contact our skilled team in Westminster now at (720) 739-1770 or send us a message online.