Many adoptions go through without a problem, but others end up stalled or in litigation. To ensure a smooth adoption process, carefully choose a lawyer to represent your needs. Continue reading for essential factors to consider.
Experience in Adoption Law and Litigation
If you are looking to adopt, it is imperative to choose an adoption attorney who has experience in adoption law. Being experienced or trained in family law is not the same as adoption law. Adoptive parents can look for lawyers who are experienced in the field through the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys. Look for an attorney who strives to be a good listener. They should set their clients’ minds at ease and be there for them when they need advice.
While no one anticipates a difficult adoption with litigation, it does happen. Choose an attorney that has litigation experience in contested adoption cases. While adoptive parents can change law firms any time during the process, it is less stressful and less expensive to have an attorney that can handle the entire process even if unexpected problems occur.
Check State Adoption Guidelines
Adoptive parents should ensure their state allows adopting through an attorney rather than an agency. Parents also need to ensure their state allows a lawyer to match adoptive parents with expectant mothers. Because adoption laws vary by state, adoptive parents need to make sure their lawyer is licensed in the state where the adoption will take place. If the expectant mother lives in a different state, the attorney will need to consult with a licensed attorney in that state.
In some states, it is illegal for attorneys to match a family with a baby. Only licensed adoption agencies can do this. Some states also have strict rules for how much adoptive parents can pay for a birth mother’s representation. Improper payments can cause legal problems and delay or even void an adoption. Professional attorneys will be aware of these issues and can handle adoption legalities.
Understand Attorney Hours
Ask potential attorneys when they are accessible and whether they provide their phone numbers to clients. Adoption lawyers are usually very accessible because the timing of births can be very unpredictable. If an attorney is not available outside of eight-to-five business hours, there may be delays, stress, and frustration with the adoption process.
Ask the lawyer, or check their website, if the information shared with expectant mothers is the same as the information shared with adoptive parents. The expectant mother should not be coerced or promised more than is possible.
Consider Lawyer Expenses
Before choosing an attorney, find out their hourly rate as well as the hourly rate of their paralegal. Paralegals do a large part of the adoption paperwork and processing. Find out the average cost of adoptions the lawyer has completed in the last several years. Expect to pay for an attorney for the birth mother as well so there is no conflict of interest.
Do some research and create a list of adoption lawyers in the area. Begin by making phone calls, and remember that it is essential to choose an adoption lawyer as early in the adoption process as possible. It is also important not to hire the first attorney interviewed. Make an informed decision after doing the homework.