We help you make the tough decisions you face with your pregnancy. Counseling and legal representation is available, at no cost to you. Your counselor or attorney can inform you of your options and how best to pursue them. Rest assured if your choice is adoption, couples, screened to assure they will provide a caring, loving and financially secure home for your child, are waiting to gratefully serve as adoptive parents.
Your discussions with a counselor or an attorney regarding adoption, by law, must be kept in strict confidence. Any communication you may have with prospective adoptive parents can be limited to first name only. Or, should birth parents desire to remain entirely anonymous; their identity can remain totally confidential as between the birth parents and the adoptive parents.
The placement of the child with adoptive parents and the relinquishment of the birth parents’ rights are achieved in private dealings between the birth parents and the adoptive parents, without the assistance of an adoption agency. An attorney represents the birth parents in their dealings with the adoptive parents who have representation by their own attorney.
The birth parents become clients of a child placement agency. The agency locates potential adoptive parents for the birth parents from whom the birth parents select the couple to adopt their child. At the time the birth parents sign the relinquishment papers, they relinquish the child to the legal custody of the adoption agency. Upon the acceptance of the relinquishments by the adoption agency, the parental rights of the birth parents are fully terminated. The adoptive couple then gains possession of the child, but the agency retains legal custody until the time an adoption petition is to be filed with the court for the final decree of adoption.
The birth mother, along with the birth father if he is present, selects the adoptive parents. The birth mother selects the place of birth and the type of contact the adoptive parents have with the child after birth and prior to the relinquishment of the child by the birth parents. In an out of wedlock birth, the birth mother identifies the birth father by written statement. Under certain circumstances the birth mother may not be required to name the birth father. Birth mothers whose parental rights have been terminated in a judicial proceeding have none of these rights.
A birth father who is married to the birth mother is presumed to be the father of the child, unless there are facts of an out of wedlock birth. An out of wedlock father who is identified as the birth father by the birth mother must have legal notice of an intended adoption. The out of wedlock father can admit or deny paternity and waive his parental rights, or relinquish his parental rights and consent to the adoption. If he chooses to assert his parental rights to the child, he can file an objection to the adoption and notice of his intent to seek custody of the child, as long as he strictly follows the legal procedure for his objection set forth by Nebraska law. In such case, he should seek legal representation immediately.
Birth fathers adjudicated by a Nebraska court to be the biological father of a child who is the subject of an adoption must be given legal notice of the intended adoption. Following the notice, the father will be given notice of a hearing scheduled in the Nebraska court having jurisdiction over the custody of the child. At the hearing, the court will determine whether or not the father’s consent is required for the child to be adopted.
Birth fathers whose parental rights have been terminated in a judicial proceeding have none of these rights.
After the birth of the child, the birth mother’s relinquishment of the child and consent to the adoption of the child by the adoptive parents, along with the verified notice to the biological father and either the judicial determination birth father’s consent is not required or his executed waiver of rights or consent and relinquishment, the child can be placed with the adoptive parents. The adoptive parents will have had a home study done prior to placement to verify their suitability as adoptive parents. When the child has lived with the adoptive parents for six months, the adoptive parents may obtain a court decree of adoption from the county court of the residence of the child. There are different legal rules if the child is eligible to be a member of an American Indian tribe.
Voluntary relinquishment of a birth parent’s parental rights and consent to the adoption of a child is irrevocable upon the signing of the relinquishment documents. The birth parents’ parental rights terminate upon the signing of the relinquishment. There is no waiting period, or time gap, in which the relinquishing parent has an opportunity to change his or her mind. The adoptive parents must have a home study completed prior to the placement of the child with them. The child must live with the adoptive parents for a period of six months before the court can enter a decree of adoption. An adoption decree results in the creation of a new birth certificate with the child’s name as requested in the adoption proceeding and with the adoptive parents listed as the child’s parents.
Couples who want to adopt a child use conventional and innovative means to pursue their search for birth parents relinquish to them. An adoption agency is one conventional source for the birth mother and adoptive parents to find with one another. Private attorneys who practice adoption law may know of prospective adoptive couples who are seeking to adopt a child. Birth parents can ask their adoption attorney to help locate adoptive parents. Some adoptive parents place ads in the classified section of local newspapers, or college newspapers, with the hope that a birth mother’s response will lead to an adoptive placement..
A child born in Nebraska may be placed for adoption with a couple who reside in another state. Out of state adoptions are governed by the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC). Out of state placement requires approval of agencies from each state, the state where the child is born or resides and the state where the child will be adopted, to insure that the child is placed with an appropriate family and to protect the rights of the natural parents of the child.
Nebraska, unlike most states, does not specify exactly what expenses an adoptive couple may pay on behalf of a birth mother. The courts in Nebraska, however, have ruled that adoptive parents can pay a birth mother only reasonable expenses related to the pregnancy. Examples include maternity clothes, and pregnancy related medical expenses, not covered by insurance or Medicaid. Such expenses must be incurred directly as a result of the pregnancy. No expense can be paid that in any way provides the mother luxuries or extravagances.
The openness of an adoption pertains to the degree in which there is communication between the birth parents and the adoptive parent prior to the birth and after the placement of the child. An adoption can be open to the extent that the adoptive parents provide the birth parents pictures of the child at significant times in the child’s life, but there is no communication between the child and the birth parents. Or, an adoption can be open to the extent that the child has personal contact with the birth parents at times agreed to by the adoptive parents. Relinquishing parents can determine whether or not the child can have access to his or her original birth certificate after the child reaches the age of twenty-one.
There are certain legal steps, which must be followed in order to have a valid final adoption decree, which cannot be undone in a subsequent legal procedure. Birth parents and adoptive parents who put the best interests of the child at the forefront and who consider the sensibilities of the child, will want to carefully follow these legal steps to avoid the possibility of the adoption being reversed and the inevitable disruption in the child’s life. Adoption laws have become increasingly complex with the recognition of the rights of out of wedlock fathers. An attorney with knowledge of adoption law can lead birth parents, or adoptive parents, through the adoption process giving assurance the law is followed and the adoption is valid.