Home Adoption Laws

Adoption Laws

Adoption and Safe Families Act

Adoption and Safe Families Act

The Adoption and Safe Families Act was a piece of legislation instituted in the United States in November 1997. The Act sought to address and remedy many of the problems that existed in the U.S. foster care system.
Prior to the establishment of this legislation, foster care programs frequently sought to reunite foster children with their biological parents, often to the detriment of the children.
Following the creation of this law, concern shifted to the safety and the health of foster children. In addition, the Adoption and Safe Families Act provided extensive Federal funding to state foster care systems. This allowed foster care systems to offer financial incentives to individuals and families who adopt special needs children.
Following a special needs adoption, a family is often provided with funds necessary to help support the child that they adopted. The Adoption and Safe Families Act has increased the frequency of special needs adoptions in the U.S. 

All You Need to Know About Children Laws Overview

All You Need to Know About Children Laws OverviewLaws regarding children are significant in terms of how they protect and give rights to children. In the past, childern have been barely viewed as entities in and of themselves. They were afforded few rights, and as such, they were treated poorly under the law.

Modern Western law, however, focuses a great deal upon ensuring that children are protected by the law and extend rights to that effect. These rights include the right to have their basic needs met, the right to have universal, State-paid education, and the right to healthcare. The current foundation of child law is that children need to and should be protected. Laws and rights regarding children are designed with this in mind.

Adoption

Adoption is the process of becoming a parent for a child or other person who is not biologically related to the adopter. The adopter assumes all the responsibilities of a parent and gains all the rights of a parent. The original, or birth  parent is absolved of all such responsibilities and loses all such rights.

Adoption has been practiced for ages, and was provided for under many civilizations’ legal codes. However, in the past adoption was focused on providing rights and power to the adopter. The American system was the first to implement adoption in its more modern form, under which the child being adopted is the primary focus of adoption laws.

American adoption laws were implemented in this form as a response to the exploitative practices that preceded them, when children were sometimes treated very poorly by the families to whom they were given. What had existed prior to the modern form of adoption laws were poor places for children to live and would be deemed horrible by modern standards. When the understanding of adoption shifted to a focus on the benefits for the child, adoption became viewed as the best possible means to find orphan children a good environment to grow up in, and adoption laws were reshaped to best serve those orphan children.

Adoption laws of the Western world derive from the same principles and are aimed to preserve the best interests of the children. This is part of the reason why modern adoption laws focus on ensuring that the potential parents will provide a stable, supportive, non-abusive home for the adopted child. Furthermore, the modern-day focus on secrecy within adoption laws arose from a similar desire to protect children from any problems arising out of their birth parents wishing to have them back.

Abduction

Abduction in the criminal context is where a criminal abducts a child illegally for any number of terrible reasons, ranging from ransom to murder. However, abduction can also refer to the practice by which a legitimate parent of a child attempts to keep that child illegally. This most often occurs with regard to divorce proceedings, in which one parent may abduct the child to keep him or her if that parent believes that he or she will lose the child in child custody proceedings.

There are other circumstances that might surround this type of parental abduction, such as if a Government agency is coming to take the children into Government custody because the parent is considered an unfit parent, and the parent in question then abducts those children to avoid losing them. There have been instances when one parent might abduct a child to another country in order to avoid any chance of the other parent successfully achieving custody of the child in question.

In general, parental abduction is the most common form of abduction, far more common than criminal abduction. Some parents who attempt to abduct a child may go so far as to alter their child’s appearance, change their name with false documents, or take other measures to prevent the children from being discovered.

Most of the time, the circumstances surrounding a child abducted by his or her parent will be highly damaging and volatile, and as such, the child will likely suffer from some form of damage, be it neglect as a result of a parent focused more on evasion and less on the child’s health, or psychological damage as a result of being ripped away from any other family members and being forced to lie.

Child abuse is a widespread, international problem. A child is suffering from abuse when they are subjected to physical, psychological, sexual, or emotional harm. Maltreatment can have an extremely detrimental effect on a child’s social and emotional development. Abuse does not necessarily include physical violence.

There are various form of child abuse, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, abandonment, and neglect. A child may also suffer from abuse if they are living in an environment in which their parents or caregivers are often intoxicated due to the consumption of drugs or alcohol.

All of these forms of abuse may cause a child to experience long term adverse consequences. Physical abuse may result in permanent physical damage to a child’s body, including irreversible deformities. A child who is suffering from this type of abuse may display indicators such as bruises, lacerations, or broken bones.

A child who is suffering from neglect may not be receiving adequate amounts of food or water, and as a result, the child may appear to be extremely malnourished or emaciated. Sexual abuse may also leave a child with physical indicators, such a bruising, cuts, and infections of the urinary tract. More often, sexual abuse leaves a child with deep emotional scarring. This is also a common effect of neglect.

As a result of these forms of abuse, as well as emotional abuse, a child may develop severe psychological issues. These may include depression, post traumatic stress disorder, trust issues, and the inability to form meaningful relationships with other people. These consequences may remain with an individual into adulthood and continue to affect their behavior long after the abuse has ended. These are just a few of the many possible effects of child abuse. There are a vast array of negative results of child abuse and neglect.

A variety of different national and international organizations have been developed in order to help prevent children from experiencing child abuse and neglect and provide care after the abuse has occurred. These organizations often focus on education as the primary method of prevention.

Many of these associations have developed programs that successfully teach parents and caregivers how to manage their stress and avoid aggressive behavior. They seek to raise public awareness about the causes, risk factors, and effects of child maltreatment. These organizations collect and distribute information to individuals and professionals across the globe.

Many states within the United States have developed legislation in order to help prevent child abuse and to punish individuals who are responsible for subjecting children to maltreatment. Child abuse has a long and troubling history. Although child abuse is now denounced in most places throughout the world, it continues to occur much too frequently. It is essential that individuals and organizations continue making strides to stop maltreatment and prevent child abuse and neglect from occurring.

Emancipation

Emancipation means that a minor will be able to sign a lease for an apartment or to buy or sell property. A child who has been emancipated will also be able to consent to medical treatment. Although an emancipated child receives many new rights, they also receive many new responsibilities.

In most cases, they will need to be able to provide for and support themselves financially. This means that they will have to have a steady income from employment, which may present a challenge due to the restrictions that the Federal labor laws place on the employment of minors.

A child who becomes emancipated will need to continue to uphold the laws of license for the State in which they reside. This means that an emancipated child will not be given the right to drink or to vote until they reach the State’s declared age for these activities.

There are a variety of different ways in which a child becomes emancipated from his/her parents. The most common way in which a child is emancipated is when they reach the age of majority, which in most states is the age of eighteen. When a child reaches the age of majority they are seen as an adult in the eyes of the law and are, therefore, no longer the responsibility of their parents.

Other ways in which a child is generally considered to be emancipated is when a minor is married or enters the military. However, in cases such as this, a minor’s status as emancipated will depend on the specific circumstances surrounding the case.

A child may also choose to petition a court for a legal emancipation from his/her parents. This legal process will require the child to present just reason for seeking emancipation, as well as evidence that the child can support himself/herself. There are a variety of adequate reasons for a child to seek emancipation. However, if a child does not have a justified reason, they should not seek a legal emancipation from his/her parents.

Foster Care

Foster care is effectively a truncated form of adoption, in which the foster parent fulfills a similar role to an adopter, but does not necessarily obtain as many rights as a full adopter. The system is designed to facilitate caretaking of the child until that child can later become fully adopted. A foster parent is legally certified, and therefore, will provide a safe and solid environment for the child. 

In a foster care arrangement, the foster parent is given all the duties of taking care of the child’s day-to-day needs, while the State Government still makes all the important legal decisions for the child. A foster parent will also receive some form of payment from the State for taking care of the child, helping to offset any costs that the foster parent might incur as a result of taking in the foster child.

Foster care is by no means a perfect solution for taking care of any given child, and children in foster care are often found to have a statistically higher risk of experiencing negative consequences, such as depression or post traumatic stress disorder. These disorders may be a result of the child’s prior experiences with a negligent parent, of course, which might have been the reason the child was placed into foster care in the first place.

In general, foster care does not lead to the best possible results for children’s growth, as children who grow up in foster care appear to have higher rates of suicide or homelessness than do most children. Indeed, some opponents of the foster care system claim that children may be less damaged by keeping them in a poor home than they would be if they were taken out of that home and put into foster care.

Obviously, there are some situations where this is not true, such as situations in which the child would be physically at risk by remaining in the home in question. However, as long as the child is not in direct risk of harm, then these detractors argue that keeping the child in his or her home would be better than placing him or her in foster care.

There is evidence that placing the child in a solid, happy, loving, adoptive home would be better than either other option. Since foster care may be a prerequisite to adoption, supporters argue that placing a child in foster care for a short period of time is worth the risk.

Juvenile Law

Family court lawyers should be involved in nearly all of the circumstances described above. They can be instrumental in drafting any contract that relates to the care of children. These documents include, but are not limited to, child support, child custody, and child visitation agreements, as well as drafting adoption papers and surrogacy agreements, filing for emancipation, and defending or pursuing a paternity suit.

In addition to taking an active role in family court on behalf of a couple or a child, a family court lawyer may also serve as a valuable guide to any individual who is attempting to or considering navigating their way through family court. Since family court proceedings are often emotional affairs, a family court lawyer can be an invaluable source of assistance because they often approach the case from a more objective position.

Uniform Adoption Act of 1994

Uniform Adoption Act of 1994

The Uniform Adoption Act of 1994 (UAA) seeks to define and distinguish different types of adoption and curb incidence of child trafficking (reminiscent of the 1993 Hague Adoption Convention). What is most admirable about the Uniform Adoption Act of 1994 is that it seeks to bring standards to the language of adoption policy in the United States.
Among the concepts explored within the UAA’s eight articles are who can and who cannot adopt, who must consent to adoption and under what circumstances, when a parent’s rights may be terminated, what kinds of evaluations are needed prior to placement in a home, and what constitutes unlawful practice with regard to domestic and international adoption.
Nonetheless, some opinionated sects among the dissenters to the Uniform Adoption Act of 1994 would go so far as to the call this piece of legislation evil. The Bastard Nation, among others, have highlighted specific sections within the UAA that would realistically be detrimental to adoptees and birth parents alike. For one, there is a clause within the Act that would seal adoption records for 99 years, essentially as long as adoptees and other interested parties may live.
Fortunately for its detractors, the Uniform Adoption Act has seen little formal acceptance. Provisions of the UAA are seen in Vermont’s adoption policy, though.

Child Abuse, Domestic Violence, Adoption, and Family Services Act of 1992

Child Abuse, Domestic Violence, Adoption, and Family Services Act of 1992

Compared to the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) of 1974, the Child Abuse, Domestic Violence, Adoption, and Family Services Act of 1992 is perhaps lesser known. While it is true that the Act does address adoption in America, that is not the whole thrust of this piece of legislation.
As it relates to child abuse, and thus, how it specifically proposes to amend the CAPTA, the Act brings economic force to protection of children’s rights, earmarking some $45 million for this cause and outlining procedures for states to become eligible to acquire these funds. As for the use of these Government grants, the Act stresses the need for community-based programs to take an active role in trying to prevent child abuse and neglect.         
Though child abuse and adoption are given their own sections in this bill, many would argue domestic child abuse is fundamentally linked to U.S. adoption policy, as a substantial percentage of children put into foster care are removed from the custody of their birth homes because of the unsafe environment created for them there. As noted, the Child Abuse, Domestic Violence, Adoption, and Family Services Act does mention adoption in America by name. 
In amending the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment and Adoption Reform Act of 1978, the Act symbolizes a changed mindset of the times with regard to U.S. adoption to give more weight to the needs of the child and getting children into permanent homes as expeditiously as possible. Furthermore, the Act authorizes the creation of a National Resource Center for Special Needs Adoption.          
Even so, the Child Abuse, Domestic Violence, Adoption, and Family Services Act of 1992 does recognize the fact there are sometimes mitigating circumstances when it comes to termination of parental rights, such as the role of culture in raising children, especially in first-time allegations brought against parents.
While the bill does not explicitly reference any cultures or minorities in particular on the subject of child abuse, this language may still be seen as an oblique reference to perceived differences in child rearing along ethnic lines.
In terms of the Act’s legacy in the history of U.S. adoption policy, it made some small but important contributions to how we approached adoption in America. 

Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000

Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000

The Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA) is not just coincidentally related to provisions of international adoption law. By name, it references the Hague Adoption Convention.
As such, the provisions within the IAA are sort of an announcement of what preparations needed to be made to assure the United States was/is fully compliant with the terms of the Convention, and the language of its purpose largely echoes that of the articles of the Convention itself. Thus, the IAA calls for protection of adopted children from abduction and trafficking, insurance of consent between adoption laws of different member countries, and recognition of completed adoptions between jurisdictions.
As the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption specifies that all who are party to it designate a central authority for adoption, so did the Intercountry Adoption Act. According to this creation of adoption law, the Department of State via the Secretary of State is to handle accreditation and approval procedures for adoption agencies and to monitor agencies and even rescind their accreditation for failure to meet Hague standards. 
The Attorney General, meanwhile, was also was given duties by the Act, namely to forward applications of prospective adoptive parents to the Department to State and to review cases for evidence of fraud. Another function of the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 that is of critical importance is how it addresses America’s conformity with the adoption laws of other countries. 

Safe Haven Laws

Safe Haven Laws

The majority of children living in the United States child welfare system (and thus, living outside the care of birth parents) have already outgrown infancy. Nonetheless, even babies as young as a few days old may be surrendered by their biological parents.         
Not just any place may be deemed a safe haven for the purpose of refuge for abandoned children. Depending on the region, hospitals, emergency medical service centers (i.e. ambulance buildings), police stations, and fire stations may all serve as safe havens. Even churches may fulfill this role provided “staff” are present. Preferably, people will be on hand who can provide immediate medical care should something go wrong with an infant.         
Not just any caretakers may relinquish custody of a child to an appointed facility either. Safe haven laws differ with regard to which parents may surrender their children, if at all. While a majority of states offer some sort of procedural rules of abandonment of a child, a handful have yet to formally address the issue.
For those states that do expressly permit temporary care of children at public institutions, meanwhile, some (e.g. Georgia) only allow birth mothers to surrender their children at safe havens and some (e.g. Illinois) do not specify who may leave a child for eventual adoption.
In addition, not just any children may be handed over to safe haven facilities. A significant majority of states (over 90%) require that children be less than three months old, and a substantial subset of that majority states (slightly over 50%) that children may only be 14 days or older. 
Though safe haven laws of the states have their terms for parents to give up their children, parents may, in turn, have their own requirements, namely that their identity remain a secret and that they are not prosecuted for deciding to waive their custody of their child. Thankfully for them, most states build in some sort of provision that anonymity and immunity from criminality will be ensured by the safe havens that accept children. Nonetheless, this is not guaranteed in all states and may be rendered moot if parents are suspected of neglect or abuse.
Safe haven laws dictate that usually children will be handed over to a system of public care. Still, once more depending on the jurisdiction, there are procedures whereby safe havens can or must remand children back to their custodial guardians. Authorities may need to check if a child was reported missing before accepting him or her, or they may have to consult a birth father registry to see if a father might want to assume primary care of his biological child.

Quick Overview on The Varying State Laws Adoption Laws

Quick Overview on The Varying State Laws Adoption Laws

An obviously critical consideration of rules and regulations of American adoption is who may be adopted. Technically, in about half of the United States, even adults may be adopted. As regards child adoption policies in the United States in themselves, all states allow for children to be adopted.
There are qualifications in some jurisdictions, though. States like Indiana will only consent to adoption of children under 18. As for, say, Texas, a child must be explicitly cleared to be ready for adoption, and in Iowa, in particular, a child must live with a family for some 180 days prior to adoption.
An equally essential aspect of American adoption is what rights adoptive parents and birth parents should have. First of all, prospective adoptive parents must be given the rights to adopt at all. The child adoption policies of different states will assess different minimum ages for individuals to become eligible to adopt, whether this be 18, 21 or 25, and in some states, such as California, adoptive parents must be at least 10 or 15 years older than their prospective children, respectively.
Furthermore, American adoption as a whole is largely restrictive of gays adopting children, or at the very least does not openly support the practice. In fact, Florida and Mississippi have an explicit ban on LGBT adoption.         
State child adoption policies vary as well in terms of who can give consent for adoption/placement. In all states, birth mothers/married birth couples usually will have to agree to any transfers of primary care (all too frequently, the rights of “putative fathers” are not given the same weight as those of biological mothers).
If termination of parental rights is done by force, however, this decision will become a responsibility of a public or private adoption agency. Then again, half of the states have provisions in their statutes allowing children above a certain age to object to their being adopted.
American adoption law is thus fairly complex. With any omnibus adoption legislation unlikely to pass soon, this complexity stands to remain. As far as adoption reform is concerned, it seems revision of individual State child adoption policies may be the best way to effect changes in the short-term.

Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997

Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997

Prior to the passage of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, domestic adoption in the United States was conceived much differently. Before then, preservation of the family through preservation of parental rights was often the most important consideration of state health and social services departments, even on occasions when that would potentially endanger the welfare of children. With the inherent risk to American children in holding to that policy, though, it was increasingly apparent that a new adoption act was sorely needed. 
With the signing of the Adoption and Safe Families Act, also known as the ASFA, however, somewhat of a revolution was brought about in the arena of domestic adoption. This adoption act saw a new conception of how parental rights should be addressed, as well as the institution of other reforms. At the same time, though, the ASFA was not above criticism at the time of its creation, and some contingents find fault with it even today. Some basic information on the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997:
As noted, where this adoption act engineered the most sweeping changes to American adoption policy is regarding the issue of parental rights. Through the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, the conditions for termination of parental rights were made less restrictive.
Potentially, within a year of allegations of abuse or neglect, biological parents may be stripped of their ability to care for their biological children and relocated to another household through adoption from foster care. In a manner of speaking, then, the ASFA can be seen as important step for domestic adoption in the United States in that it expresses a more firm commitment to the best interests of its children.  
At the same time, though, this adoption act speaks to one of the biggest interests of the states: more money. By amending provisions of the Social Security Act, the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 grants federal funds to states for their compliance with the letter of the law, to as much as $4,000 per adoption for numbers of foster care child placements higher than those of the previous fiscal year.
Thus, at the time of the ASFA’s passage, there was definitely an incentive for states to get as many children as they could out of child welfare. 
The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 has been much celebrated for its attention to child rights and the plight of waiting children in foster care. Nonetheless, critics of this adoption act point to ways in which the system can be and has been abused. For one, the language of the ASFA is correct that preservation of parental rights should not be upheld in all cases, but by the same token, adoption by relatives and strangers should not automatically be considered to be the best solution, especially not to justify the intake of state funds. 
Some critics, in addition, think the deadlines for termination of parental rights contained in the Act are a bit hasty. After all, children may be placed into families temporarily through legal risk placements, so it is not as if living in child welfare and living birth parents are the only options. Whether the good of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 outweighs the bad is subjective.
At any rate, the ASFA has provided fodder for our national dialog on what is best for children in foster care, and therefore has furthered our understanding of the issues at hand.

Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980

Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980

For many Americans, it is hard to believe how far domestic adoption has come. The Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, like many Federal laws on the subject of adoption, saw fit to amend the policies of past. In particular, the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act addressed terms of appropriation for adoptive families by changing the language of Title IV (aid and services for needy families and foster care children) and Title XX (social services “block grants”) of the Social Security Act to make public funds more accessible to certain groups.
As for what groups were deemed eligible for Government-issued monies by the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, both children and families as a whole qualified for certain forms of relief. Some drew aid from the proverbial well that was Aid for Families with the Dependent Children (AFDC), while some families received financial breaks.         
Who exactly were children with special needs, though? Prior to the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act, there was no adequate explanation. With its passage, however, the deserving segment of the population was finally given a codified definition. A “child with special needs” is defined by the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 as one who cannot be brought back to a home run by his or her birth parent(s) and one who cannot be placed or cared for without some form of assistance.
Of course, this is a critical notion for adoption law, but for recognition of children with special needs worldwide in general, the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act was a big step forward for our nation.         
At the same time, adoptees of all walks of life were impacted by the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980. An important clause in the Act demanded State Social Services departments make “reasonable efforts” to avoid breaking up families through foster care/adoption and return children to their biological parents when possible. In fact, the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act levied an 18-month ultimatum on public agencies for them to determine where a child would be placed following foster care.
For what it did for children with special needs, the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 is certainly admirable. Nonetheless, it has its limitations. Oftentimes, the reasonable efforts charge of the Act ran contrary to children’s best interests in that it sent them back to families in which potential for abuse was high. This issue would come to be revisited in future legislation such as the ASFA in the 90s, however.

Your Guide to Adoption Laws

Your Guide to Adoption Laws

It was not until the 20th century that real authoritative standards were brought to domestic adoption. Of course, public domestic adoptions spiked in the aftermath of the Adoption and Safe Families Act’s (ASFA) passage. For all the apparent good in “rescuing” children from long-term stays in foster care, though, the ASFA has its detractors.
A big point of contention with the Act is that the system it creates that allots money to the states for sweeping children through the adoption process is only rewarding them for breaking up birth families faster, and with poverty often serving as parents’ big wrongdoing. In essence, under the Adoption and Safe Families Act, poor biological parents tend to suffer.

Uniform Adoption Act of 1994
As good as a comprehensive set of standards for domestic adoption may sound to those who are dissatisfied with delays in State-by-State attempts to reform the practice and address its shortcomings, the cure may be worse than the disease if the terms create new problems. Such is the case of the Uniform Adoption Act of 1994 (UAA), originally set in motion as a model adoption law and to date only agreed to in a few districts in the whole United States.
The UAA is particularly notable for the taxonomic approach it brings to adoption, classifying adoption by family types and defining eligible adopters. To boot, it seeks to protect the interests of children by adding safeguards to the home study review process and turning a scrutinizing eye to the legitimacy of placement services both here and abroad.
On the other hand, the Uniform Adoption Act of 1994 contains clauses that are utterly unacceptable to adoption rights activists. For one, the UAA leans heavily toward privacy in adoption when many would consider more openness to be better. Of particular ill repute among opponents of the bill is the stipulation that original adoption records would remain sealed for 99 years after finalization of adoption, which would preclude adoptees from ever seeing some of the most important information to their sense of identity.
In addition, critics have pointed out the legal rigidity shown towards birth parents in the UAA. Mothers are given small windows to decide whether or not to put up their children for adoption, and biological fathers are not even required to be notified prior to consent for adoption. 

Child Abuse, Domestic Violence, Adoption, and Family Services Act of 1992
The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1974 (CAPTA) may be better known in some circles, but the Child Abuse, Domestic Violence, Adoption, and Family Services Act of 1992 is notable for confronting both child abuse and adoption, and thus, acting as a predecessor of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997. In dealing with said subjects, the 1992 Act gives each their own section.
For child abuse, the Act sets aside over $40 million in Federal monies for the protection of children and prevention of abuse and domestic violence at the community level. At the same time, this legislation is remarkable for considering the effects of culture and race on perceptions of what constitutes child abuse. While this obviously does not mean that the Act condones child abuse, in the interest of family preservation it may afford some clemency to those charged with violations of the law against children.
Certainly, the implications for adoption at the time of the Act’s inception were big in their own right. The Child Abuse, Domestic Violence, Adoption, and Family Services Act of 1992 is perhaps more significant for what it symbolizes in American attitudes toward adoption. The Act expressly recognizes the high rates of child retention in State foster care.


Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980
The Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 serves today as evidence of just how recent important amendments to domestic adoption policy were. One key function of this legislation in its passage was to afford financial benefits to underprivileged populations who heretofore had gone unrepresented in U.S. law. 
Eligible children with disabilities and families struggling to stay above the poverty line were provided for by new provisions of Title IV-B and Title XX of the Social Security Act as well as the public assistance program known as Aid to Families with Dependent Children (ADFC), which today has since been replaced with Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). 
Meanwhile, the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act’s greatest contributions to American adoption policy are the ones that are perhaps the most likely to be taken for granted. The Act, realistically, was one of the first pieces of Federal legislation to formally confront and define the category of “children with special needs” for the purpose of subsidizing their adoption and subsequent care in a permanent home.
Another standout clause of the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act has to do with the mandate of adoption authorities to make “reasonable efforts” to keep birth families together. In a sense, this line of thinking is outmoded compared to the child-centered approaches of more recent adoption policies. Nonetheless, even with primary focus on minors, reunification with suitable parents is one of the better possible outcomes for children, especially next to foster care.

Varying State Laws 
Of course, the contributions of Federal legislation to American adoption policy should not be discounted, especially concerning how adoption assistance is handled. At the same time, though, comprehensive legislation on specific aspects of adoption policy has effectually taken a proverbial backseat to State statutes on adoption. In actuality, much is governed by individual State laws on the various intricacies of adoption law, right down to questions answered of who may adopt and who may be adopted. 
In terms of the former, domestic in-state and interstate adoption is most strictly regulated by State laws in terms of age and sexual orientation of applicants. In some jurisdictions, prospective adoptive parents will have to be at least 15 years older than the children they adopt. Moreover, LGBT applicants will find it difficult to gain court approval for an adoption to proceed.
As for adoptee populations, while all states permit the adoption of waiting children, some states will even go as far as to let people adopt adults, especially those with special needs who lack the ability to live independently. It should be noted that, oftentimes, State adoption policies will not be so clear-cut. 

Safe Haven Laws
With nearly every State in the union owning statutes allowing for children to be surrendered to certain municipal establishments so that they may be passed along to a hospital and eventually to a permanent home or temporary assignment, infant abandonment and subsequent adoption is well provided for by safe haven laws. These laws respond to a number of potential questions that onlookers might have regarding the legality of this practice, which changes depending on the State of jurisdictional residence.
Some states specify that those who forfeit responsibility to care for a child must be custodial parents of the child, but to the benefit of these parents, usually confidentiality and freedom from criminal prosecution come part and parcel with safe havens’ decision to accept an infant. Plus, the child must be an infant in all states with safe haven procedures built into their constitutions, and for a majority of states, may be only a few days or weeks old.
As noted, though, State safe haven laws may designate any number of institutions to be safe havens for the purpose of waiving parental rights to an infant child, including police and fire stations, ambulance corps buildings, and churches. Ultimately, the care of the child is not finalized, for they still must be handed over to a hospital with trained staff specifically designed to administer emergency medical services at all times.
Even after the decision is made by a birth mother to surrender her child, individual states will sometimes allow for mothers to decide to renege on their decision to give up their babies, and still other states may be required by law to make sure that a child has not been reported missing or is not wanted by a biological father