There are three types of adoption in Michigan. The first is an agency placement. In an agency placement the parties interested in adopting a child work with a licensed child placing agency to complete the adoption process. The agency works with the hopeful parents and places the minor child in their care. There is then a period of supervision, after which the adoption is finalized. For many people, agency placement adoption is the best route, however, in order for a child to be eligible for adoption through a child placement agency he or she must first be surrendered by their birth parents, either to the child placing agency or to the Department of Health and Human Services.
The second type of adoption in Michigan is often called “step-parent adoption”. The rules for step-parent adoption are very similar to those for guardians and other relatives of the minor child.
The third is direct placement adoption. Parties seeking to adopt can also avoid using an agency and can instead participate in a direct placement adoption. A direct placement adoption allows the child’s birth parents to approve the potential adopters and requires that they name the adoptive parents when they surrender their rights or have their rights terminated. This prevents the child from ever being placed with an agency or the Department of Health and Human Service.
In order to adopt a minor child in a direct placement adoption, the person(s) who wish to adopt the child must file a Petition for Adoption. This petition is a form that is created by the State Court Administrator’s Office.
The party seeking to adopt must also provide the court with a statement saying that they have received counseling and a preplacement assessment within the previous year. Numerous other documents must also be attached, including: any orders terminating the birth parents’ parental rights, any consent forms signed by the birth parent(s), the child’s birth certificate, and a home study.
This petition must be filed in the proper county. Typically that is the county where the adoptive parent(s) reside, however, in some cases it may be necessary to file the petition in a different county based on how the child became eligible for adoption and where they are currently residing.
Once the petition for adoption is filed, the court or its designee may conduct an investigation. This investigation considers three factors. (1) The best interests of the child, (2) the child’s family background, and (3) the reasons for the child’s placement away from his or her birth parents. In lieu of conducting this investigation, the court can rely on the preplacement assessment that was filed with the initial petition.
When the investigation is complete and the court has reviewed the preplacement assessment, the court will make a determination as to whether the adoption is in the best interest of the child and whether child is eligible for adoption. If the court is satisfied that both of these criteria are met, a temporary placement is made with the adoptive parents. This temporary placement typically lasts six months, however, it can be waived or extended based on the best interests of the child.
Once this temporary period is over, or is waived, a final order of adoption is entered. At this time, the adoptive parents became identical to any biological parent in the eyes of the law.