Deciding to adopt a child is a big and exciting decision. If you are considering adoption or just beginning your adoption journey and feeling overwhelmed, you are not alone. Adoption is a highly regulated process in the state of Colorado. There are many steps to take and qualifications to meet before a court will make the adoption of your child or children “official.” However, with the right knowledge, tools, support, and assistance, adoption does not have to be an overwhelming or stressful process. The attorneys at GEM Family Law can help.
Can I adopt a child? To adopt a child, Colorado courts generally require you to be at least 21 years old, and there is no age ceiling. If you are younger than the age of 21, adopting is not out of the question, but you must get the court’s permission before qualifying. In most cases, prior to becoming eligible to adopt a child, you must complete various federal and state criminal history and other records checks.
When is a child “available” for adoption?
Generally, a child must be under the age of 18 and live in the state of Colorado, among other things, to be available for adoption. However, a court may approve the adoption of a person between the ages of 18 and 21, depending on the unique circumstances of the case.
The availability of a child for adoption is also directly dependent on the specifics of your case. For example, if you are a family member adopting a child through the “kinship adoption,” both of the child’s parents’ legal relationship to the child must be severed. This can be done either by the court in a termination hearing, or parental rights can be relinquished voluntarily by one or both parents. If a parent determines that they would like to relinquish their rights, it is important to be award that the Court is going to require them to engage in relinquishment counseling before completing the process. In the rare circumstance that the child’s birth parents are deceased, and the child has a court-appointed guardian, the guardian must give their consent to the adoption.
However, in a stepparent adoption, only one parent’s rights have to be terminated or relinquished, as the other biological parent is the parent supporting and consenting to the adoption of their child by their spouse.
Stepparent and second parent adoptions are similar with respect to the process. In a second parent adoption, typically, one parent is already a biological parent and a legal parent and consents to their spouse or partner’s adoption of the child. However, in a second parent adoption, there is generally no need to terminate any other parent’s rights, as the child has only one legal parent at the time of the adoption.
The adoption process can be intricate and confusing, as it involves a substantial amount of paperwork to be submitted to the Court. However, the experienced attorneys at GEM Family Law experience no greater honor than helping families who are in transition. Call for a free consultation at 720-443-4892 and keep an eye out for part #2 of this blog series!
Co-Authored by: Adeline Sulentich, Associate Attorney and Jennifer Lepman, Law Clerk.