Prior to 1991, Alabama did not have what one could call a modern adoption code, but since then Birmingham families, as well as couples all across this state, have had an easier time when adopting a child. Thanks to a much revised adoption code developed nearly 20 years ago, the process is no longer fraught with questions and legal black holes.
Many couples have walked through my door, anxious about adopting a child. As a Birmingham family law attorney, I can assure them that the process is typically very safe and extremely transparent. In fact, because the Alabama State Legislature consulted the local adoption community when crafting the new code back in 1991, Alabama's adoption law actually became a model over the years as other states moved to revise their old laws. Being a family law attorney in Alabama allows me to help people all across our state with adoptions and child custody cases.
In regard to adoptions, the following explains why Alabama's current adoption law works so well for couples:
1) It clearly defines how much time the birth parents have to change their minds — specifically, five days following either the birth of the child in question or the signing of relinquishments. This simple stipulation protects the birth parents since it provides a clear window of five days in which they can withdraw from the adoption. Meanwhile, it protects the adoptive family once that five-day window has finally closed.
Furthermore, the birth parents are given the choice of when they want that five-day countdown to commence. Also, a birth parent can choose to sign their relinquishment papers even before the child is born, or anytime following the birth of the child. If the latter route is taken, they receive the same five-day right of withdrawal.
In cases where the birth father is unknown or cannot be located, he is given a thirty-day period following the child's birth to step forward and claim paternity. At the end of thirty days, the court considers that he has given consent to the adoption, and his rights are then terminated.
2) The law deals strictly with the passing of money between those parties involved in the adoption. Heavy penalties are levied against individuals, including birth parents, attorneys, agencies, and prospective adoptive parents, who do not follow the financial guidelines set by the code. All fees must be submitted to the court for approval. These fees must be reasonable and directly related to the specific expenses of the adoption in question.
Because Alabama's adoption code is so concise, it is rare that couples ever experience the adoption tragedies commonly heard of in other states.