Is Adoption Right for My Family?

Are you thinking about adopting a child? In 2016, more than 400,000 minor children nationwide lived in the foster care system of which about 67,000 were adopted. Many potential adoptive parents inquire about babies with adoption rates lowering for older children and teenagers.

Due to confidentiality and privacy laws, adoptive parents are often not given certain biological or historical backgrounds of the child they are hoping to adopt. These factors could potentially impact the adoptive parents, existing children, finances and an adopted child’s future. Look at how adoption affected the Paxton family and their adopted daughter, Ava.

Preston and Olivia Paxton had two sons, Edward and William. Olivia was content with having two children, but Preston always wanted a girl. They decided to adopt a 9-year-old girl close to their sons’ ages. After meeting all of the requirements to adopt, the Paxtons met Ava. While they knew little about her background, the couple grew attached after many visits and decided to make her a part of their family.

Everything was fine for the first 18 months. Then Ava’s school reported that she had been having outbursts of anger and was bullying other children. These anger issues infused stress upon the entire family. Meanwhile, Ava was receiving phone calls from a teenage girl that the family later learned was her biological sister, Darlene, who had been searching for Ava. Preston and Olivia invited Darlene to visit and learned much more about Ava’s family history, which contributed additional stress upon the whole family.

Then the economy collapsed. Preston lost his job, causing enormous financial strain on the family. Preston’s inability to find employment, combined with the couple’s stress over Ava’s behavior, led to divorce. The court awarded Olivia ownership of their home and primary custody of her sons and Ava. Believing the adoption agency deceived her family, Olivia returned Ava to the agency shortly after the divorce without any objection.

Nineteen years later, Olivia died without a last will. Her sons hired a probate attorney to acquire ownership of the family home and other assets. To their surprise, although Olivia returned Ava to the adoption agency, the adoption was never revoked. That meant Ava was still legally Preston and Olivia’s daughter, so Ava received one-third of Olivia’s estate. Subsequently, Ava purchased her brothers’ interests in Olivia’s home, stating that it was the only real home she ever knew. It is where she now happily lives with her husband and children.

Preston, Edward and William have reunited with Ava. Although her adoption left behind an aftermath of joy, love, anger and despair for the family, in the end, her story became one for the storybooks.

If your family is considering adoption, plan to consult with estate planning and family law attorneys before you begin the process.


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Written by Kristen Jackson

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