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     Adoption is the legal way for non-biological parents to assume a parent-child relationship with a child. Adoption usually ends the relationship between the child and the biological parents. An adult can adopt an unmarried child under the age of eighteen. The adult must be at least ten years older than the child unless the adopting parent is a stepparent or married relative of the child.

     If you have decided on adoption you will need legal advice. You should also consider getting emotional support from family and friends. The father should be notified, as his consent is likely needed in order to put a child up for adoption. You can choose an agency adoption or a private arrangement. Adoptions can be very open or very private; that is up to you. You can choose the family or set stipulations on the sort of family you want raising your child (for example, religious background).

     You may need parental consent to put your baby up for adoption; this will depend on what the laws are in your area. If you choose adoption the agency or lawyer who helps you can let you know if you need to get parental consent.

     A minor (under18) does not need their parent's permission in order to put their baby up for adoption. You have the right to give up your baby for adoption and do not need permission to do so. Minor parents have the same rights and responsibilities as adult parents. The adoption also cannot be undone because the biological parents were minors when they made the decision to give the baby up for adoption.

     It may be necessary for both parents to agree to give the baby up for adoption. It depends on the legal status of the father. Generally, if the parents are married prior to or at the time of the birth of the child the father is the "presumed father" under the law. He is also the "presumed father" if he married the mother after the baby was born and he is either named the father on the birth certificate or he is required to pay child support by a court order. A "presumed father" must be notified of the proposed adoption and he has a right to stop it. However, if he stops the adoption he must be willing to assume full physical custody of the child himself.

     If the father does not fullfill his duties, leaves the baby with the mother, and makes no attempt to support or communicate with them for at least one year the court may decide that he has abandoned them. If so, he has no right to try to stop the adoption. Also, if both parents leave their child with someone else for at least six months they both may lose their right to stop an adoption.

     There are two main ways to put a baby up for adoption: agency or independent adoption.

* An agency adoption is one where the biological parents give up the child to a private or state agency and the agency places the child with adoptive parents. The child usually is placed in foster care until the adoption is finalized.

* An independent adoption is one where the biological parents can contact prospective adoptive parents directly or have another person, such as an attorney, priest or doctor, contact prospective adoptive parents in order to arrange an adoption. The biological parents must consent to the adoption before the baby is born. The adoptive parents often pay for maternity-related expenses and any legal fees.

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