The Law Center has been handling adoptions for nearly 20 years, and its founders for even longer prior to The Law Center’s opening in 2003. We are very proud to practice in this area of law.
Two of the firm’s attorneys, Lynn J. Bodi and Emily Dudak Leiter, are state and national leaders in this area of law. Lynn co-founded and operates the adoption agency, Adoptions of Wisconsin, Inc. The firm acts as its general counsel and assists on nearly all of its cases. Both Emily and Lynn are consulted on a regular basis regarding proposed adoption reform legislation in Wisconsin, and both have served on various committees and the Board of the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys (“AAAA”). In addition, The Law Center is responsible for the first several editions of the State Bar of Wisconsin book entitled “Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights and Adoption.”
In Wisconsin, the parental rights of the birth parents must be terminated before there can be an adoption. During the termination process, we strive to be compassionate and sensitive to the needs of both the birth parents and the prospective adoptive parents, while keeping the best interests of the child as the top consideration.
In agency adoptions, a licensed adoption agency matches the birth parents and adoptive parent or parents, provides education, counseling, a home study, and post-placement services. The agency also takes guardianship of the child until the adoption is finalized.
We work with the parties through the legal process: from filing the appropriate court documents, to handling the hearing required for the termination of the parental rights of the birth parents. Along the way, we provide legal advice to prevent mistakes that could lead to financial and emotional loss.
In independent adoptions, the birth parents and adoptive parent or parents locate each other. An adoption agency is still necessary to provide many of the same services as in an agency adoption, and the same termination of parental rights procedure is necessary. We can help whether the birth parents and adoptive parent or parents have just met or have known each other for years.
Birth parents may place a child for adoption in the home of a relative. Once the relative has a completed relative home study, the adoption can be finalized immediately following the termination of parental rights.
When a parent remarries, a step-parent often assumes the emotional and financial responsibility of his or her spouse’s children. In many cases, especially when the children’s other birth parent is not involved in their care, an adoption is a logical step. This ensures that the legal relationship between the step-parent and child is as secure as the emotional relationship.
When a child is adopted from one state to another, the rules of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (“ICPC”) must be followed. This means that we need to comply with the legal requirements of, and work with the ICPC offices in, both states. We are very familiar with interstate adoptions and the steps that must be followed to ensure a successful placement.
When a child is adopted from another country, we will assist with the child’s immigration to the United States and Lawful Permanent Residence (i.e., a green card), handle a termination of parental rights if necessary, finalize the adoption or re-adoption in Wisconsin, correct dates of birth, and obtain proof of the child’s citizenship from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Let us worry about the legal forms and papers that need to be filed. We will make sure that your adoption complies with international treaties and ethical standards, as well as federal and Wisconsin law. Also see our immigration webpage, as international adoptions are largely immigration cases.
We also have experience in outgoing international adoptions, meaning the child resides in the United States and will leave the country to live with the adoptive parent or parents abroad.
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