Private adoptions (independent and agency)
Private adoption includes all adoptions that are not initiated by the Children, Youth and Families Department. They include agency adoptions, in which an adoption agency helps the adoptive parents locate a child that is or will be available for adoption. They all include adoptions in which the birth parent or parents have selected a friend or family member to adopt their child when the birth parents are unable to parent the child.
We strive to recognize the compassion and courage birth parents exercise when they reach the decision that the best interest of the child requires placing their child in an adoptive home.
CYFD (state) adoptions
Children that are in the custody of the Children Youth and Families due to abuse or neglect and become free for adoption following a voluntary relinquishment or a termination of parental rights may be adopted by individuals that are home study approved. The adoptive parents may be relatives or non-relatives of the child. Here at Peak Legal Group LLC we can guide the prospective adoptive parents through this process.
ICPC (interstate) adoptions
In the modern world adoptive parents are frequently matched with birth parents that live in a different state. Each of the states has adopted the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children. Adoptions that cross state lines require an adoption attorney to be familiar with the ICPC and requires communication with and study of the adoption laws of both the sending and the receiving states. As a fellow with the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys, Hal Atencio has extensive experience with interstate adoptions and is part of an international network of adoption and assisted reproduction attorneys and will use those resources to assist clients that are considering or completing an interstate adoption.
In New Mexico an adoption can include a legally binding open adoption agreement. That is not true in all jurisdictions. Here at Peak Legal Group LLC we can help adoptive parents and birth parents understand the various options, then draft and negotiate open adoption agreements.
Stepparent adoptions can give a custodial parent the peace of mind that their child will never return to an absent and sometimes dangerous non-custodial parent. The facts of each case will dictate whether this option may be right for the custodial parent, the stepparent and the child or children. We can consult with the parties involved to determine whether a Stepparent adoption is possible to complete and can represent a parent or stepparent in a contested Stepparent adoption.
Grandparent or Family adoptions
In our society grandparents have become more important than ever in helping raise their grandchildren. In some situations it may be appropriate for a grandparent to adopt a grandchild. These are usually uncontested adoptions but may become contested in some family situations. We have represented grandparents, or other close relatives and finalized many of these adoptions to protect or advance the opportunities of the children.
Most adoptions are a collaborative effort where all parties are in agreement that adoption is the best option for the child. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Hal Atencio has won many contested adoption cases including cases that ultimately reached the New Mexico Court of Appeals and the New Mexico Supreme Court. Our experience at Peak Legal Group means that we can represent a parent or prospective adoptive parent in these emotionally and sometimes financially difficult cases.
Many of our LGBTQ clients are adopting a child as the best way to expand their family. LGBTQ clients can also explore and compare the choice between Adoption and Assisted Reproduction. At Peak Legal Group LLC we recognize, respect, and promote the rights of our LGBTQ community. All our adoption services are available to the LGBTQ clients that we are honored to represent.
Adult adoptions do not require the consent or termination of the adult adoptee’s biological parents. Adult adoptions are subject to a completely different adoption statute. Most adoption attorneys do not have experience with the adult adoption statute. Peak Legal Group has expertise with this unique type of adoption. These adoptions are sometimes used for purely sentimental reasons, but can also impact an adult adoptee’s right to inherit as a child of the adoptive parent.
Indian Child Welfare Act adoptions
The Federal Indian Child Welfare Act has been the subject of a great deal of litigation, both in many State Courts as well as in Federal Courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. Not knowing the ICWA can be devastating on both the child and the prospective adoptive parents. Hal Atencio has successfully finalized adoptions of Native American children by Non-Native American adoptive parents. This is a complex and precarious area of law. Having experienced counsel to advise the parties regarding their rights and the options in contested cases is essential. We can help you understand whether you have a viable chance to complete an adoption when ICWA applies, and determine if ICWA does apply to your particular child.
Foster Parent Rights
Serving as a foster family to a child in need is fulfilling, but may also be frustrating and intimidating when CYFD makes a decision that is just plain wrong. Foster Parents open their homes and their hearts to children in State custody by allowing them to feel safe and grow and learn in a family setting. Foster Parents also have to deal with the bureaucracy of a State agency and often need legal assistance navigating this system while protecting the best interests of the child.
Foster Parents have the right to be a member of the treatment team and to provide input on their foster child’s service plan. Foster Parents are able to provide unique input as to the child’s needs and the effectiveness of the services the child is receiving. They are also in a unique position to provide critical information to the Court and should be important to a Judge’s decision making process. The importance of the role of a Foster Parent is recognized by law. Foster Parents are required to be given notice of proceedings involving a child in their care and they have a right to be heard.
However, the reality is that the bureaucracy of a State agency has a long way to go in including Foster Parents as an integral part of the treatment team. Frequently, Foster Parents become frustrated and resentful of a system that does not include them and is unresponsive to their needs. It is not unusual for Foster Parents to experience retaliation if they complain to the court-appointed lawyers who represent foster children.
At Peak Legal Group, we have extensive experience helping foster parents navigate the bureaucracy and fighting for foster parent rights.
Foster Parents are responsible for the safety and emotional well being of the children in their care. While the ultimate goal for these children is often reunification with their biological parents, the Courts are increasingly recognizing that at some point this may not be in the child’s best interest. Foster Parents and their foster children come to form emotional bonds and attachments that can be psychologically devastating to the child if broken. Courts are also increasingly recognizing that the rights of the child are equally as important as the rights of the biological parents.
Peak Legal Group believes in the importance of Foster Parents in the lives of their foster children and would be honored to assist in any way to promote and defend the rights of Foster Parents and their foster children.
Adoption law requires sensitivity to the emotions, people and relationships involved in the adoption process. Our office always treats the people involved with great respect and dignity keeping in mind that the ultimate goal is to provide for the best interests of the child.