We often mention the importance of including children’s voices during separation, divorce and other family law cases, and it’s especially important to make sure that adopted children are listened to.
November is National Adoption Month in the USA, following closely on the heels of the UK’s own National Adoption Week, and this highlights the global nature of caring for adopted children.
Many adopted children may have had disrupted childhoods or may experience abandonment issues that can re-emerge under the stress of their adopted parents separating – but family mediators can help with this.
As with other cases, mediation is a way to take into account complex views from all affected parties, including adopted children and other family members, on future plans like access, visitation and who the child will live with.
How does adoption affect divorce?
In principle, a child who is adopted is treated the same as a biological child – the legal process of adoption confers all of the usual parental rights.
However, there can be problems if only one parent legally adopted the child, which is likely if the couple only met after the adoption process was completed.
Because modern day adoptions allow for single parents, married couples, same-sex couples and almost all other situations, it is increasingly likely that in a divorce or separation, one parent might find they do not legally have an automatic right to see the child in future.
Mediation can help to overcome this obstacle by deciding what is in the best interests of the child and of both parents – with a view to keeping things amicable so future visits and handovers are not too difficult to face.
Who else should be consulted?
It’s best to at least consider the views of all involved family members, even if the final decisions of future plans remain directly with the parents.
As such, family mediators can help you to speak to all of the children – including any biological children, adopted children and step-siblings – and you may also want to consult with grandparents, aunts or uncles who are closely involved in caring for the children.
Mediation talks can be quite relaxed and informal, but they also have a view to drawing up formal plans for the future that can be agreed as legally binding in court.
This helps to keep adopted children together with their adoptive parents and provide them with some much-needed stability even during a turbulent process like divorce or separation.