Adoption During a Pandemic: How is Covid-19 Impacting Adoptions
August 6th, 2020
I’ve had many questions recently about how the Covid-19 pandemic is affecting adoptions in Oregon. For the most part, and largely dependent on what county you reside in, adoptions are proceeding as usual. If you are thinking about starting an adoption and have paused because of the pandemic, I recommend you speak with an attorney about your specific case. For more information on adoptions in general, please see our adoption page. There you will find thorough, extensive information on the types and processes involved.
Even before the pandemic, adoptions are largely conducted entirely electronically and by mail. At Litowich Law, we are a cloud-based law firm proud to utilize multiple forms of technology so that your adoption can be completed without leaving your front door. We can schedule limited in person meetings. We absolutely love meeting our clients in person, and especially meeting the children involved, but we know we need to take precautions to protect your family and ours.
Unless a legal parent withholds their consent to the adoption and requests a hearing, all legal paperwork is submitted to the proper Oregon Court, the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS), and the Oregon Department of Vital Statistics through electronic means. All required signatures and necessary information and documentation are collected from you by email and our electronic signature program. Katherine Denning is proud to have filed adoption petitions in eighteen different Oregon counties using this technology.
How Could COVID Impact My Adoption?
If the legal parent withholds consent to the adoption and requests a hearing, the Court will schedule one. Most Oregon courts are only conducting hearings remotely right now because of COVID – it varies by county and some are conducting in-person hearings. Even if your county requires an in-person hearing, there are many steps in the adoption process that take place before the Court would schedule a hearing (whether in-person or remote). I do not recommend waiting to start your adoption if this is your concern because there will be a backlog of cases when all counties eventually re-open.
If your adoption requires a Home Study, which is true for most non-relative adoptions and all DHS adoptions, the Home Study itself cannot be concluded until the DHS caseworker or private agency worker can visit your home in person. However, as with the adoption process itself, there are many steps in a Home Study which can be completed remotely, like obtaining criminal and DHS/History and reference letters. And again, a backlog of Home Study visits is likely and priority will likely be given to those families already waiting.
If you think (or know) your adoption will need a Home Study, I advise beginning the adoption process as soon as possible so you can accomplish all the other steps and be ready when the court and Home Study agencies are back up and running. I know that DHS and the private agencies we use for Home Studies are working diligently to find a safe way to conduct their final home visits again. With the vaccine rolling out, we anticipate they will resume soon.
The bottom line is that although every adoption is different, most of them can proceed right now during the pandemic. Our team of attorneys can help you understand your options, the costs involved, and how the process will proceed for your specific case during the pandemic. Adoption during a pandemic is possible. Give our office a call to schedule a free fifteen minute adoption consultation.