Few legal matters are as joyful as an "Adoption".
However, the legal procedures sometimes seem confusing and overwhelming.
I will take the time to explain the procedures to you and guide you step-by-step along the way. The entire process usually takes from four months to a year, depending on the circumstances.
Types of adoptions and the required procedures
There are two types of adoptions available on Guam. The first type is a local adoption. The second type is an international adoption. With a local adoption, a child who resides on Guam is adopted by one or two persons who also live on the island. With an international adoption, one or two persons living on Guam adopt a minor who resides in a foreign country. Although some of the procedures for these two types of adoptions are similar, there are significant differences. For any adoption on Guam, the child must be under the age of 18.
As stated above, with local adoptions, one or two people living on Guam adopt a child who also lives on Guam. The child must have lived on Guam for a minimum of six months just prior to filing the adoption petition. Before an adoption can be granted, a judge must first terminate the parental rights of one or both parents, depending on the circumstances. Usually, the natural parent(s) willingly sign a written consent to terminate their parental rights. If not, a legal action must be pursued to have their parental rights terminated. Once the parental rights are terminated, the adoption can move forward. Under Guam law, the adoption usually cannot be finalized until the child lives with the adoptive parents for one complete year, although the judge has discretion to shorten the time. Judges are usually more likely to shorten the waiting time when the adoptive parents are closely related to the child or the child has already resided with the adoptive parents for at least a year prior to filing for adoption.
Neither the termination of parental rights nor an adoption can be granted until a Home Study Report has been prepared by a social worker from Guam's Bureau of Social Services Administration (BOSSA). A BOSSA social worker will be assigned to the case. S/he will be responsible for preparing a rather lengthy written report that is submitted to the judge. The adoptive parent(s) will be required to provide the social worker with numerous documents including employment verifications, income statements, court and police clearances, and recommendations, among others. The social worker will meet with the prospective adoptive parent(s) and the child, and s/he will conduct a home inspection. The Home Study usually takes about three to four months to complete. Assuming the study is favorable, the process should then flow quite smoothly.
An international adoption is much more complex and time-consuming. The process normally takes from 3 to 6 years. International adoptions fall under the regulatory umbrella of the Hague Convention's Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, aka Hague Adoption Convention. The adopting parents must retain the services of a Hague accredited Service Provider to shepherd the process through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services division of the Department of Homeland Security. Guam does not have any accredited Service Provider. Hawaii has the nearest accredited Service Provider. The Service Provider assists the adoptive parents in locating an adoptable child from a country that is also a member of the Hague Adoption Convention. Once a child has been identified, the Service Provider will guide the adoptive parents through the process of eventually bringing the child to Guam. The adoption process can only proceed after the child has successfully resided with the adoptive parents for one year. International adoptions can be a very long, expensive, and emotionally draining process.
How much will an adoption cost?
Generally, the legal fee for a consent local adoption is $1,990 and the court fees are $320, for a total of $2,310*. The legal fee for each additional child is $750 plus an adidtional court fee of $300 per child. The legal fee for an international (Hague) adoption is $2,950 and the court fees are $320, for a total of $3,270*. The legal fee for each additional child is $750 plus an adidtional court fee of $300 per child. Notary fees are an additional cost. The legal fee for a default adoption is $2,750*. The legal fee for each additional child is $750 plus an adidtional court fee of $300 per child. The costs will include court fees of $354, newspaper publication fees at current rates, plus $75 courier fee.* If you pay by credit card, there is a 3 1/2% processing fee. If you wire the funds, there is a $15 processing fee.
How can I get started with my adoption?
Simply click on the "Adoption Worksheet" button and complete the form. It is important that you fill the worksheet out completely. Once you have completed the worksheet, call my office at 472-8472 and set up an appointment for a consultation. The consultation fee is $75 for up to 30 minutes. Should you retain my services, the consultation fee will be credited toward the adoption legal fee. Be sure to bring the worksheet with you. Without a worksheet, I will not be able to meet with you. >Click here to get started with a worksheet
> Click here to read more about International adoption can be frustrating featured in the PDN
This explanation sheet is provided for general information only and should not be interpreted as legal advice. You should discuss the specifics of your situation with a reputable attorney prior to taking any legal action. Neither this site nor anyone associated with this site shall be held liable for the use of the information contained in this document or for any decisions made based on the information provided herein.