An agency must build into terminations and surrenders a review of the possibility for an accelerated adoption. Clearly not all of the cases fall into this category but without a discussion at this stage it will never happen. All foster care workers and all persons involved in the process to decide to file a TPR or accept a surrender must be aware of accelerated adoption. Ideally whatever process is used would have built in check list to require a least a consideration.
Likely types of cases could include situations where the adoptive resource had already been identified and child has been in that home for three months or will have been by time of adoption or situations where the court could be given good reason to waive the three months and:
- Both parents willing to surrender
- Mother willing to surrender, no father can be identified or no consent father
- Cases where parent is likely to default at time of TPR
Establishing a fast-track process – Designating a particular adoption worker the “accelerated adoption worker” and giving this worker responsibility to fast track any case where acceleration is a strong possibility. This worker gets assigned as the decision is made to TPR or accept a surrender and starts to immediately work on the adoption issues having the adoptive resource get counsel, starting the home study, medical, SCR clearance and subsidy. Also this worker must keep in touch with ongoing foster care worker and DSS attorney re continuing to smooth the way for acceleration and semi-acceleration.
Situations could occur as TPR progresses that enhance possibility for semi-accelerated adoption. DSS attorneys, foster care workers and law guardians would have to be the ones to spot these situations. Situations like:
- After filing TPR, parent(s) decide to do surrender
- Parent defaults at time of TPR
- Parent admits or consents to the TPR
- Parent loses the TPR but appeal is not to be filed – possibilities involving parents who would “waive” appeal (anything that might encourage such a waiver?)
- Parent loses the TPR and 30 days elapse (from actual service)without notice of appeal being filed
The pool of local attorneys who do adoptions must include attorneys willing and able to do them in an accelerated format – offer increase in fee?
© Copyright 2006, Margaret A. Burt, Esq.