Every adoption requires the services of an experienced adoption attorney. This professional is just one of many that you’ll work with during your journey, but they’re an essential part of the process.
If you’re unfamiliar with their role, you might be asking what it is that they do, why their services are so important, and how they help prospective birth parents complete the adoption process. To learn more about what an adoption attorney does and what they’re used for, read on.
What are Adoption Attorneys?
An adoption attorney is a professional who specializes in adoption-related cases and provides the necessary legal services to complete an adoption.. Essentially, they step in to handle the complicated legal matters that your adoption agency and adoption social worker aren’t equipped to handle. There are also adoption law firms, which is a group of two or more lawyers.
Some adoptive families and prospective birth mothers choose to work with an adoption attorney as their primary professional, foregoing the services of an adoption agency. This can work in certain situations. For example, an attorney may be the only professional you need if you’ve already chosen an adoptive family for your baby (like a friend or a relative). This would be considered an independent adoption.
But, because adoption attorneys primarily handle the legal side of an adoption, they typically don’t offer the crucial services birth parents need for an adoption, like counseling and help finding the perfect adoptive family. If you decide to only work with an adoption attorney, you will likely need to ask if they can connect you to another professional that can provide those services.
You should know, however, that adoption attorneys often work alongside adoption agencies. If you do decide to make an adoption agency your primary professional, you won’t need to worry about contacting an attorney separately. Your professional will connect you and the adoptive family with any legal representation you need.
What do Adoption Attorneys do?
The primary role of a lawyer for adoption is to protect the legal rights of adoptive and birth parents in an adoption and to make sure each adoption adheres to state and federal laws. In short, they are there to simplify this confusing, complex process for prospective birth parents and adoptive families. They are in charge of filing the necessary paperwork, helping adoptive families prepare for finalization, and making sure that every adoption meets all legal standards.
As a prospective birth mother, an adoption attorney will walk you through the consent paperwork before you terminate your parental rights. They will make sure that you understand all of your rights in adoption and will be there to answer any legal questions you may have throughout the process.
How Much Does an Adoption Attorney Cost?
Adoption will always be free for prospective birth mothers, so you don’t need to worry about paying for anything if you choose this unplanned pregnancy option. Any legal expenses incurred over the course of your adoption will be covered by the adoptive family.
Do I Need an Adoption Attorney and an Agency?
Working with an adoption agency is the safest way to complete your adoption. But as a prospective birth mother, you might have started looking for adoptive parents on your own, or you might be thinking about placing your baby with a family member or a friend. This is known as an independent adoption.
If you choose this path, you can make an adoption attorney your only professional in order to simplify your adoption experience. But, although there are some advantages of independent adoption, there are some disadvantages that you should be aware of too. If you’re wondering if you need an adoption agency and an adoption attorney for your independent adoption, here’s what you should know:
Advantages of Independent Adoption:
- You only need one professional for an independent adoption: If you’ve already found who you would like to adopt your baby, you won’t need to spend time looking for another professional who can help you find other adoptive families. Technically, once you’ve found a family to adopt your baby (and they’ve been approved to adopt by a home study), an attorney is all you need to legally complete the adoption process. However, you could be missing out on some important adoption services if you choose this path — as we will explain below.
Disadvantages of Independent Adoption:
- You won’t receive the same amount of support: Adoption counseling is a vital part of the adoption process. Like we mentioned earlier, adoption attorneys and adoption law firms mainly focus on the legal side of an adoption; they typically don’t have the resources to support you emotionally through the adoption process. Because adoption is such an emotionally difficult journey, it can be hard to recommend a professional that doesn’t offer ongoing support throughout the adoption and long after.
- They may not provide matching and advertising services: Finding the perfect adoptive family is one of the hardest parts about being a prospective birth mother. If you haven’t already selected a pre-approved adoptive family, an adoption attorney likely won’t be able to provide the services you need to find adoptive parents. If you choose to work with an adoption law attorney, you may need to reach out to another professional, like an adoption agency, to meet a family.
- They don’t have the same availability: Many adoption agencies offer free, 24/7 support through their adoption hotlines. On the other hand, adoption attorneys and adoption law firms usually don’t have the ability to answer calls or other questions after work hours. As a prospective birth mother, you’ll quickly realize that there are some questions that can’t wait until Monday morning.
In our opinion, it’s always best to work with an adoption agency alongside a lawyer specializing in adoption, even if you’re considering an independent adoption. That way, you can have the best of both worlds. If you’re thinking about making an adoption attorney your only professional, make sure to do plenty of research beforehand.
Where Can I Find an Adoption Attorney?
If you choose to work with an agency for your adoption, you won’t need to look for an attorney on your own. Your professional can connect you to a trusted attorney in your area. If you are considering an independent adoption, however, you will need to search for adoption attorneys in your area. In that case, a great place to start looking for a private adoption attorney near you is the Academy of Adoption & Assisted Reproduction Attorneys.