Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

Couple faces criminal charges for returning adopted child

Adoption is a serious decision that will have long-lasting ramifications for all parties involved. Many hopeful couples seeking to adopt a child have likely created an unrealistic narrative in their head of their future child. Often times, these narratives overlook the emotion and sometimes physical trauma of the children whom they are seeking to adopt. This can leave parents wholly unequipped and unprepared for the host of problems that may arise with the newest addition to the family.

A couple is facing criminal charges of nonsupport of a dependent after they gave their adopted child to child welfare officials. The couple adopted the boy as an infant and has raised him for the past nine years. The decision to give up the child was made after the nine-year-old allegedly threatened the family with a knife and exhibited continued aggressive behavior. Although adoptions fail, it is rare for them to fail when the child is adopted as an infant; in contrast, the adoptions of older children fail nearly a quarter of the time. Adoption advocates worry that the prosecution may have a chilling effect on adoptions and families seeking help with their children's disruptive behavior. The parents have pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charges, which could result in up to six months of jail time and a $1,000 fine.

Once an adoption has been finalized, the adopted child has the same legal status as a biological child. Like any couple attempting to give up their biological child, adoptive parents must go to court to finalize the process. Simply giving up the child, trading the child or placing them in another home without consent can land adoptive parents in criminal court. Parents who are facing difficulty with their adoptive child can find resources with the state or adoptive agency. Before considering adoption, it may be wise to evaluate just how committed one is to a future child and whether adoption really is the right choice for them.

Source: Fox News, "Ohio couple committed crime by returning adopted child, prosecutor says," Nov. 27, 2013

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