Adoption is the transferring of parental rights from the biological parents to an adoptive parent or parents. By adopting a child, the adoptive parents assume all the rights and responsibilities they would have had if the child had been born to them. The adoption procedure varies based on factors such as the child's age, whether the biological parents are willing to relinquish their rights or if it will be necessary to have a court terminate their rights, and where the child is coming from - whether the child is in placement with an agency that handles adoption, a stranger, or a relative.
Below is a summary of the adoption procedures in Nebraska. This summary doesn't include every step that must be completed, but will give you a general idea of the process. The child must reside with the adoptive parent(s) for at least six months prior to the court granting an adoption. Notice must be given to all parties who have a legal interest in the case. If the biological parent(s) are unwilling to consent to the adoption, or cannot be found, the Court must make a determination if the adoption can occur without the biological parent(s) consent. The adoptive parent(s) must file Petition for Adoption with the biological parents consent attached, or the Court's ruling that such consent is not needed. A hearing is set for the court to review the Petition and all attached documents to ensure that all procedures and statutes have been followed. If the court finds that everything is in order, the court will grant the adoption and sign the Adoption Decree. Once the Adoption Decree has been signed, the birth certificate can be changed to reflect the adoptive parent(s) name(s). The child's name may also be changed on the birth certificate at the same time to the give the child the adoptive parent(s) name.
A home study is not required for a step-parent adoption, however, the step-parent seeking to adopt must have a criminal background check and a search of the Nebraska Central Registry of Child Abuse. Once the adoption is final, the step-parent has all the legal rights and responsibilities of the biological parent. This means that if the biological parent later dies, or the parties' later divorce, the adoptive parent remains legally responsible for the child.
Public v. Private Adoption
A public adoption is one in which the child is a ward of the state due to the biological parents being unable to provide for the child. These children are of all ages and are living in various foster care homes. In a public adoption, an adoption agency is involved in the adoption process. A private adoption is one in which an adoption agency is not used. The biological parents relinquish their parental rights to the adoptive parents. In a private adoption, biological and adoptive parents are often brought together through mutual acquaintances. Private adoptions are generally handled by adoption attorneys.
Open v. Closed Adoption
In an open adoption the lines of communication between the adopted child, the adoptive parent(s), and the birth parent(s) remain open. The types of communication that may take place could include sending letters or emails, phone calls, sending pictures, or spending time with one another. An open adoption is not a co-parenting situation. The adoptive parents are the legal parents of the child, as the biological parents have relinquished their rights over the child. A closed adoption is one in which there is no interaction between the biological and adoptive parents. Under Nebraska law, a biological parent can sign a non-consent form stating that they do not want any information contained on the original birth certificate released prior to their death.