Adoption is an action that transfers all the rights and responsibilities of a natural parent, if known, to an adoptive parent. In most cases, once a child has been adopted, the natural or birth parents are no longer responsible for their child, nor do the birth parents have any legal rights or obligations to the child. It is as if the natural or birth parents become like any other third party with respect to the child. In Minnesota, however, adoptions can be structured so that the natural parent(s) have a continuing legal right to visit the child(ren). The adoptive parents become responsible for the child and all the obligations and rights between a parent and child are established between them. Following an adoption, the child's birth certificate is amended, showing the adoptive parents as the children's biological parents.
The formal procedure by which a legal adoption occurs differs from state to state. The procedures also vary depending on the type of adoption. Step-parent adoptions are the most common adoptions we handle through our office.
In a step-parent adoption, the step-parent's attorney prepares the initial papers, i.e., the Summons, Petition for Adoption, Natural Mother's Consent, the Natural Father's Consent, and the Child's Consent (if the child is fourteen years of age or older). In Minnesota, with very few exceptions, the natural mother's and natural father's signed consent is required before the court will file the case. If consent from the natural parent is not obtained but yet required, a termination of parental rights action must be brought and satisfied before proceeding with the adoption.
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