Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Intent to Adopt Question

Sometime last month, someone came to this blog while searching for the question "Can dfcs change its mind after you sign intent to adopt?"

 I skimmed through my archives and I'm not sure I explicitely answered that, so I thought I'd do so now, just in case someone is still looking for the answer.

Keep in mind, however, that I'm not an attorney or a child welfare professional. I've only been through one adoption from foster care in one county of one state in the US. But I'll tell you what I understand to be the answer to that question based on what I was told by attorneys and child welfare professionals when we were finalizing M's adoption.

The short answer is: Yes. Yes, they can change their mind after intents are signed. It's not final and forever until the judge signs the adoption decree on the adoption finalization date.

The longer answer is: It's not likely. When you sign intent to adopt paperwork, DFCS is declaring that you are the chosen placement for this child. If the caseworker is still deciding between multiple placement options, you won't be signing that paperwork yet. We were told it wasn't final, and we asked what could happen to derail the process at that point. Basically, if an abuse or neglect complaint were to be filed against us, causing DFCS to have remove the child. I suppose it's possible that a previously-unheard of relative could show up at that point, but the chances of that would depend on the specific case. M's parents had signed away their rights. According to our county caseworker, that action terminated the rights of all extended family members as well. If one of us had been charged with a crime that made DFCS question our fitness to be parents, they could have retracted the placement.

The signing of the intent to adopt paperwork is the last step -- other than getting assigned a court date -- but nothing in foster care is ever final until the judge says it is.

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