Legal Risk Placement Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Legal Risk Placement, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Legal Risk Placement?

Type of adoption where the child is allowed to live with the adoptive parents prior to completing the adoption process. This avoids having the child live with foster parents. The adoptive parents assume a risk because the biological parent can select to take back the child and cancel the adoption until the adoption is completed.

History and Meaning of Legal Risk Placement

Legal risk placement is a type of adoption where the child is allowed to live with the adoptive parents before the adoption process is complete. This approach minimizes the time a child spends in foster care. However, as the adoption is not finalized, the adoptive family assumes a risk. If the biological parent/guardian changes their mind or is deemed fit to parent the child, they may even take back the child and cancel the adoption until the process is complete.

This adoption process has its roots in the 1960s, when legal risk placements were the norm in the adoption system. They were named "legal risk" because the child remained with the adoptive family, despite the uncertainty that the adoption would go through. This risk is undiminished even today, though legal risk adoptions are no longer the norm.

Examples of Legal Risk Placement

  • In Virginia, a family gets a legal risk placement of a six-month-old baby while the natural mother works to meet the requirements for her to regain custody.
  • California's Adoption Connection, an adoption agency, places newborns with legal risk adoptions to pre-adoptive parents, whose legal status may not be final. Although adoptions are usually completed in a few weeks, the average wait for a child with a contested adoption is between 15 and 18 months.
  • In Arizona, a family chooses an adoption path where they accept a legal risk placement of a toddler, even though the adoption procedure has not been completed, and the regular monitoring and coaching services are given to the family until the adoption is approved by the court.

Legal Terms Similar to Legal Risk Placement

  • Foster-to-adopt: A process where adoptive parents become licensed as foster families to take care of the child while waiting for the adoption to be completed. This allows adoptive parents to receive a per diem for the child's living expenses while the adoption is still in progress.
  • Open adoption: An adoption process where the biological family members may remain in contact with the adopting family or remain in touch with the child.
  • Closed adoption: An adoption where all legal and personal documents are sealed or anonymized, and adoptees have restricted access to information about their biological family.