Independent Adoption Versus Agency-Assisted Adoption
Adoption is defined as a "legal procedure which establishes the relationship of child and parent between persons who are not so related by nature. At the same time it terminates all such relationships between the child and its natural parents, if such relationship has not been previously terminated" (Leavy, 1954, p. 10). Almost anyone may be adopted. Generally children, often infants, are the subjects of adoption, but a majority of states permit the adoption of adults as well. If the person to be adopted is over a certain age, twelve or fourteen in most states, he or she must consent to the adoption (Farmer, 1968, p. 19). In any case, the natural parents of the child must consent to his or her adoption, unless they have been judicially deprived of custody or declared unfit.
The party wishing to adopt, or petitioner, must bring a petition of adoption before the proper state court.
The petition must contain the consents of the necessary parties, as well as other information. Most states require that the petitioner be an adult, although there is generally no requirement that he or she be married. If the petitioner is married, however, the almost universal rule is that his or her spouse must join in the petition. After a hearing on the petition, the court will grant an interlocutory or provisional decree if it deems the petition in the best interests of the child. After the interlocutory decree, the court generally provides for a test period, during which time the person to be adopted lives with the petitioners, and the state Department of Public Welfare is usually assigned to make a periodic investigation of the adjustment. If this test period (which may vary from six months to two years) is successfully concluded, the...