Is Placing an Older Child Up for Adoption a Crime?
Doing whatever it takes to create better opportunities for your child is every parent's dream. But if the path to a better future possibly includes adoption, you might be asking yourself: “Is placing an older child up for adoption a crime?”
Right now, we’re sure that you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed. If you’re thinking of placing your older child up for adoption, we want you to know that there are safe and legal ways to do so. But, you should also know that there are strict laws in place to prevent child abandonment.
Like all types of adoption situations, the best place to start is by contacting an adoption professional to find out what is legally possible in your situation. In the meantime, we’ve created this guide to provide some basic information about legally placing an older child up for adoption. Keep reading to find out more.
What is Abandonment?
The legal definition of abandonment means that a parent, guardian or person in charge of a child leaves that child —whether that’s emotionally, physically or financially — without any regard for their health and safety.
There are different interpretations on what constitutes as abandonment. But, generally, here’s what it might look like:
- Making only a small amount of effort to communicate and interact with the child
- Refusing to provide care, support or supervision for the child
- Leaving a child at home for long periods of time with no regard for their wellbeing
- Intentionally abandoning a baby on a doorstep or another unsafe location
- Failure to participate in a reunification plan
Like with most laws, each state has its own stance on penalties for child abandonment. To learn more about what constitutes as abandonment in your state and involuntary termination of parental rights, you can check out chidwelfare.gov.
What’s the Difference Between Abandonment and Adoption?
Adoption is the legal act of placing your child into the care of a loving adoptive family. Once you complete your adoption paperwork after your child has been placed with the adoptive family, all of your parental rights and responsibilities will be transferred to the adoptive family. So, you won’t be charged with parental abandonment. Instead, you can move on with life knowing that your child will grow up in a safe, secure environment.
Right now, you might be worried that it’s too late to place an older child up for adoption or that no one will adopt them. But, the truth is that adoption could still be an option for your child. The team at American Adoptions has more than 30 years of experience providing adoption support services. If your child is 4 years old or younger, we may be able to help you, too.
“I didn’t have family support… everything was on my own,” she said. “I was just contemplating, ‘What can I possibly do now that would make a difference for our future and provide my sons with the life that I would like to give them?’”
Finding the perfect family gave her all the confidence she needed to make her adoption decision. And knowing that her child would grow up safe and loved made it easier to choose adoption. she got all the help she needed when she found the perfect adoptive family.
In adoption, you can decide on the perfect family, choose how much contact you plan to have with your child, and more. You have full control over your adoption plan, and your specialist will support you every step of the way.
What are Baby Moses Laws?
In your research, you may have come across the terms “Safe Haven Law” or “Baby Moses Law.” These laws are intended to help protect newborns from endangerment by providing a safe alternative to abandonment. For panicked women who just gave birth, safe haven locations can provide the safety they need when they’re not sure of who else to turn to.
Specifics of safe haven laws vary in every state. But each once has a specific stance on:
- Which location a baby can be surrendered to
- Who can surrender the baby
- How old the baby can be when they’re surrendered
If you’re thinking of surrendering your baby to a safe haven location, you should first become familiar with the laws in your state. For a good place to start, check out childwelfare.gov.
Choosing Adoption vs. Baby Moses Laws
For Erika, she knew that adoption was the best choice she could have made for her baby from the beginning of her unplanned pregnancy:
“I was for adoption from the very get-go, and, after a lot of talking, we decided that adoption was best,” she said."
While Baby Moses Laws do offer some protection, there are countless benefits for you and your baby when you choose adoption. For example, in an adoption, there is no maximum age limit. Unlike at a Safe Haven location, you won’t need to worry about it being too late. You also won’t have to sit and wonder who your baby will be adopted to when they’ll be adopted, because you’ll be able to choose a loving family for them yourself.
Frances, a birth mother, was initially worried about finding a family. But with some encouragement from her birth parent specialist, she was able to make her decision with confidence:
“Rachel [her birth parent specialist] said, ‘Frances, you’ll know when you have picked the perfect family,’” Frances said. “When we talked to Chris and Courtney, in the middle of the conversation, I knew Chris and Courtney were the ones.”
Our agency works with many adoptive families from across the country who would be overjoyed at the opportunity to parent an older child. With our agency, you’ll have a better chance at finding an adoptive family that has everything you’re looking for and more.
If you’re considering adoption for your child and your child is 4 years old or younger, please give us a call at 1-800-ADOPTION. Our experienced adoption specialists can help you figure out what is legally possible in your situation and will walk you through the steps you need to know.
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