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5 Tips for Adjusting to a Blended Family After a Michigan AdoptionAdopting a child can be one of the most rewarding experiences of a person’s life. In many cases, adoption gives a loving, safe home to a child in need. Some couples who cannot have biological children of their own may choose to adopt. Other spouses may decide they would like to expand their family through adoption, even if they already have kids of their own. Having siblings can be a wonderful way to grow up. However, there can be a period of adjustment for everyone involved. The following are a few ways to ease the transition for parents and children alike. It is also important to enlist the help of a knowledgeable family law attorney to make your dream come true.   

Creating a Sense of Belonging

Although it is a very exciting time in your life, adopting can also be challenging, especially if your adopted child will be welcomed to your home by new siblings. Here is some practical advice on how to alleviate some of the stress on all family members: 

  1. Include Your Current Children in the Process: Depending on the age of your biological children, they may or may not understand the process your family is embarking on. Talk to them in an age-appropriate language that will help them make sense of the changes that are about to take place and how they will impact their daily routine. 
  2. Gather as Much Information as Possible: Obtain as many details as you can on your adopted child’s medical history, as well as his or her ethnic background. Explain these differences to your children and try to incorporate any cultural traditions into your family.
  3. Beware of Playing Favorites: As a parent, it is important to avoid favoritism with any of your kids. Special treatment of either your adopted child or your biological kids is not fair to anyone. Similarly, disciplining should be consistent for every child. 
  4. Acknowledge Birth Order: Consider that older or younger children may feel some resentment or jealousy if they are no longer the oldest or youngest. It will take time for everyone to get used to their “new normal” after adding another family member, so try not to rush it. Allow your kids to share their feelings by having an open mind and listening.
  5. Seek Family Therapy or Counseling: If any of your children are acting out as a result of the adoption, it might be a wise investment to talk to professionals in child or family counseling. A social worker, family therapist, or adoption specialist can guide your family through this new transition. 

Contact a Farmington Hills Adoption Lawyer

Adoption can be a long and complicated process, but it is worth it in the end. If you are considering adopting a child, it is crucial that you hire an experienced legal team to ensure you complete all the required steps. The distinguished law firm of Elkouri Heath, PLC, has been providing families in southeast Michigan with quality legal services for more than 20 years. We have assisted numerous clients on both sides of family adoption proceedings. Our dedicated Novi, MI, family law attorneys are adept at navigating the adoption process in a thorough and efficient manner. Call our office today at 248-244-9700 to schedule your free consultation.

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What Are the Benefits of a Relative Adoption in Michigan?According to the Adoption Network, approximately 135,000 children are adopted every year in the United States. Relative or related adoption is the legal adoption of a child by a biological relative. For example, it can be the adoption of a child by his or her grandparent, uncle, or cousin. In many states, relative adoptions are not as complicated as non-relative or agency adoptions. The Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS) searches for adoptive families that will best meet the needs of a child. If possible, adoptive placements are made with relatives or foster parents, and siblings are kept together in most situations. It is important to seek the guidance of an experienced family law attorney when considering any adoption. 

The Basics of a Related Adoption

According to Michigan family law, any individual can be adopted but those who are age 14 or older must give their own consent. In addition, the state law allows adoptive parents 21 days in which to challenge a denial.

Because of the familial relationship in a relative adoption, one attorney is able to represent both parties. In these types of adoptions, it is considered more of an “open” adoption versus a “closed” adoption. However, in cases of divorce where one spouse remarries and a step-parent wishes to adopt the child, each biological parent may choose to hire separate legal representation.  

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I’m a Single Parent – Can I Adopt in Michigan?In the past, the nuclear family was preferred for adoption over other family makeups and dynamics; however, this has changed as society has modernized and the vision of the “American family” has expanded. Many single parents incorrectly believe that they cannot adopt due to their relationship status. In 2017 alone, almost 15,000 single women and nearly 2,000 single men adopted children or youth from foster care. For single women or men looking to adopt a child, it is important to consider how single parenthood would affect their lifestyle and to look at their various options to make an informed decision on the matter.

Lifestyle Changes

It is no secret that having a child changes an adult’s life forever. This is especially true of those looking to embark on this journey alone. Single individuals considering adoption should look at the following three areas to see if they are ready to take that step:

  1. Time Management: This is a skill that every parent is forced to learn when they bring their child home. Balancing work, your child’s needs, and your social life by yourself can be a difficult task. Before single parents move forward with the adoption, it is important to see how they would “fit” their child into their day while making them a priority.
  2. Financial Investment: Children are the most expensive investment a person can make. Necessities such as food, clothing, and doctor’s visits are enough to make a future parent’s head spin. When you think about the possible costs of education or extracurriculars, the investment may seem impossible. Parents should look at their financial stability before making a lifelong commitment to caring for a child.
  3. Relationships: Children can take up most of a parent’s time, making it difficult to start new relationships if they are not already in one. Children can complicate the dynamics of a new relationship and sometimes stop them altogether. Before deciding that a child is in your immediate future, you may want to look at your willingness to prioritize your child over romantic relationships to come.

What Are the Different Types of Adoption?

Aside from adopting a family member or stepchild, there are three different types of adoption available to those looking to grow their family.

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Novi, MI family law attorney open adoption

Adoption offers a way for a person or a family to provide a loving home to a child in need. The choice to adopt a child can be one of the most rewarding decisions an individual or a couple ever makes. If you plan to adopt in Michigan, you will need to decide whether you want to pursue a private adoption, adoption through a private or public agency, an international adoption, foster care adoption, or another avenue. You will also want to consider if you want a closed or an open adoption. Regardless of the type of adoption you choose, it is essential to hire an experienced family law attorney to guide you through the process. Below are a few of the pros and cons of open adoption.

Advantages of an Open Adoption

In an open adoption, the adoptive child can be in contact with his or her birth parents or birth family, and they may even spend time with these family members on a regular basis. There are many benefits to having an open adoption. In some cases, adoptive children who do not know their birth parents lack a feeling of belonging. They may wonder what their adoptive parents are like or question why they were placed for adoption in the first place. Open adoption can give adoptive children answers to these questions and help them gain a greater sense of personal identity. Having an open adoption may widen the circle of support in the child’s life, and it can also provide the adoptive parents with love and support.

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Oakland County LBGTQ adoption lawyerSame-sex couples looking to adopt a child in Michigan have reason to celebrate. Recently, the state recognized its commitment to federally mandated nondiscriminatory provisions in its foster care and adoption agency contracts. 

In March 2019, the Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel settled a lawsuit by same-sex couples who argued they were turned away as adoption candidates by faith-based adoption centers based on sexual orientation. Now, faith-based adoption agencies that benefit from state funding are no longer allowed to turn away LGBTQ candidates based on religious reasons. Nessel stated that a 2015 law that allowed state-contracted adoption centers to refuse adoptions based on religious premises violates federal anti-discrimination laws.

In accordance with this policy, the Michigan Department of Human Services must abide by federal nondiscriminatory policies in it's foster care and adoption agencies. If adoption centers are not following these federal policies, their funding will be cut.

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Novi MI adoption lawyerAdoption can be a long and difficult process, but it is one that can lead to great excitement and a new family. For this reason, people do not enter into the adoption process lightly. Even after an adoption is complete, there are still legal issues that will need to be addressed. One such issue pertains to the birth certificate of adopted children, which will always have special conditions. 

Adopted Children Have Two Birth Certificates

Adopted children have an original birth certificate from their birth parents and a new one from when their new parents finalize the adoption. Many adopted children want to know more information about their birth parents once they learn that they were adopted. The date, time, and place of birth are the same on both certificates. The original birth certificate contains the birth mother’s name and the given name of the child. It is often the case that the birth certificate will not contain the birth father’s name, as it is not necessary for a birth certificate. Not having the father’s name on the birth certificate will make it difficult if the child wants to track down his birth father in the future. The new birth certificate has the name of the adoptive parents and the new name given to the child (if there is one).   

Limited Access to Original Birth Certificate 

The original birth certificate is sealed by the state registrar after the adoption is complete. In 25 states, the birth certificate can be obtained by consent of all three parties (child, adoptive parents, and the birth parent). In the remaining states, a court order is required. Obtaining the original birth certificate is a lot easier if the adoption is an open adoption. Open adoption means there is an agreement that allows the birth parent to be a part of the adopted child’s life. Over 90 percent of adoptions are open adoptions. Open adoptions will allow adopted children better access to the medical history and original birth certificate.

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Oakland County adoption lawyerIt is always exciting when a couple decides to pursue adoption. It is an important and big decision that involves undertaking a complex legal process. However, when an adoption is executed properly, it can yield great rewards. If you are considering adoption, it is important to find a reputable adoption lawyer to handle your case. To prepare for the adoption process, let’s go through some important points to consider.  

Hire the Right Professional

To reiterate, it is important to hire an adoption attorney to handle your case. If you try to google “adoption process” on your own, the information can be very overwhelming. There are businesses who call themselves “adoption facilitators” who act as a third-party between you and the adoption agency. Adoption facilitators are not a requirement for the adoption process and are actually illegal in 15 states. If you are approached by a third-party vendor (not an attorney or agency) who claims they can help you find a birth mother, it is wise to turn the other way. Unfortunately, parents seeking adoption are easily scammed due to their vulnerable position.

Know Your Costs

The average adoption costs $40,000. If a third-party vendor offers a much lower rate, it is important to be very suspicious. If you hire an agency for a lower rate, it is important to vet and fact-check all details. Is the agency including travel costs for the birth mother or are there other hidden charges? If costs are rising, it is important to make educated choices rather than emotional ones.

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Farmington Hills stepparent adoption lawyerIf you have been helping to raise your spouse’s children for some time now, you probably consider them “your” children already, even if they are not “yours” biologically and legally. Obviously, you cannot do anything about the biological part. But have you thought about legally adopting your stepchildren

Benefits of Stepparent Adoption

You might choose to adopt your spouse’s child for any or all of these reasons:

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