While family court often entails difficult situations like divorces and custody disputes, Tulsa’s family court, OK, can also be a place for positive legal experiences like adoption. An adoption can be a life-changing event for any child, even if they are too young to understand what is happening. Mixed families, including children from previous partners and marriages, are more common than ever before. It’s growing increasingly common for children to be raised by stepparents and adoptive parents.

If you are a stepparent or intend to marry someone who already has a child, it’s vital to recognize that adoption may be in your future and understand what that process entails in the Tulsa, OK area. It’s also important to know the value of hiring an attorney and what your adoption attorney can do for you during this legal process.

Why Adopt?

Adoption is the process of formally placing a child with non-biological adoptive parents who legally and emotionally recognize the child as their own. An adopted child has the same rights and legal protections as a biological child. Adoption can also create more cohesion in a mixed family and help an adopted child feel at home with an adoptive family. A legal adoption process also provides a family with legal protection and peace of mind. Once a child is legally adopted, the child will have access to their adoptive parents’ inheritance and all of the legal rights afforded to biological children.

It’s also vital to remember that adoption terminates the parental rights of the parent or parents being legally replaced by an adoptive parent or parents. For example, if a child is in the custody of their biological mother and their biological father is not part of their life in any way, their mother may start a new relationship and remarry eventually. The stepfather may choose to adopt his wife’s son to ensure the child has a legal father and all of the rights of being a legally recognized child.

It is also possible to adopt an adult in Oklahoma with the adult’s consent, but this is primarily done for symbolic, personal reasons. For example, suppose a child was raised by a stepparent and never has a real relationship with their biological parent. In that case, they may want to be legally adopted to take their stepparent’s last name and qualify as their stepparent’s child for legal purposes.

Conditions for Adoption in Tulsa

Oklahoma state law requires that for an adoption to occur, the child’s biological parent or parents must willingly relinquish their parental rights or have lost their parental rights due to legal action. If a biological parent has died, this would also allow for adoption by a stepparent or other relative. If the child to be adopted is 12 years old or older, the child’s consent is necessary for the adoption to complete.

Obtaining the relinquishment of parental rights is easier in some cases than others. If a biological parent has lost their parental rights due to a criminal conviction or other legal action, they will likely have any grounds to contest an adoption for the foreseeable future. Some parents will be willing to sign away their parental rights; others will fight for their parental rights tenaciously. An experienced Tulsa, OK family law attorney can help you determine the best solution in your unique case.

Oklahoma state law allows individuals over the age of 21 to adopt whether they are single or married, including same-sex couples. However, if a married person intends to adopt, their spouse must join in the adoption process and agree to adopt as well. If the child will be adopted into any new home and will not remain in their original residence with one of their biological parents, such as in the case of an adoption by a relative, the court will likely require a home inspection. During this inspection, a court-appointed evaluator will ensure the home is safe for the child and interview the prospective adoptive parents to learn more about their lifestyle, family dynamics, and goals. The evaluator will then submit a report to the judge overseeing the adoption case that includes their impressions of the home and family.

Benefits of Adoption in Oklahoma

The primary benefit of adopting a child in Tulsa, OK, is the fact that the child is legally considered the natural child of their adoptive parents following the adoption. All communication and interaction between the adopted child and their biological parents cease, except in the case when the child remains in the care of one biological parent who marries a stepparent willing to adopt.

If an adopted child has good relationships with their natural grandparents, the grandparents should not need to worry about losing access to their grandchild, even if their son or daughter loses their parental rights. Oklahoma recognizes the rights of grandparents and does not punish grandparents or consider them accountable for the decisions of their children. If your grandchild is being adopted and your biological son or daughter is losing their parental rights over your grandchild with or without their consent, rest assured that you can still have visitation with your grandchild under Oklahoma state laws.

Oklahoma Rules for Adoption Records

In Oklahoma, it is possible for an adopted child to obtain their adoption record in the future if they wish to learn about their natural parents. However, there is no guarantee that an adoption record will include identifying information about the child’s natural parents. Oklahoma adoption records may be either identifying or non-identifying. If the biological parents do not wish to be listed on the record, the adopted child will not be able to obtain their identities from the adoption record.

It’s also important for adoptive parents to remember how name changes work. Typically, the adoption of a child in Tulsa, OK, will automatically generate a name change process to change the child’s last name to that of their adoptive parents. Name change records will include the adopted child’s original last name, but they may not contain much more information than this. Oklahoma state law strives to ensure adopted children can access important medical information about their biological parents if necessary but allows biological parents who lose or surrender their parental rights to remain anonymous.

Ultimately, adoption provides security and legal protection to a child that would otherwise not have the same rights as a biological child. If you are interested in adopting a child in Tulsa, speak with an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible, so you know what to expect from the adoption process.