What is an Adoption Lawyer?
An adoption lawyer specializes in the legal process of adoption and all the laws that apply. Adoption is the formation of a legal, formal relationship between a child and adoptive parents. Adoptions must go through the court system and be approved. Adoption lawyers usually represent adoptive parents in this process.
What Does an Adoption Lawyer Do?
Adoption lawyers specialize in the laws that govern the process of adoption. Adoption laws and rules vary by state, so they must be well versed in the laws where they practice. An adoption lawyer can assist prospective adopters with every step of the process:
- Find agencies for their clients
- Work with the agency to process an adoption
- Aid in processing a private adoption
- Assist clients with all the necessary paperwork
- Represent clients in court
- Negotiate terms of an open adoption
- Help meet requirements for an international adoption
- Help with family and stepchild adoptions
- Determine if a client is eligible for an adult adoption
Do I Really Need an Adoption Lawyer?
There is no legal requirement to have a lawyer to adopt. Every adoption, even if it is private or of an adult, must go through the court and be approved by a judge. In a straightforward case, such as adopting a stepchild or a child you have been fostering for a while, it may be easy enough to adopt without a lawyer.
If you are starting from scratch or have complicating factors, adoption can get messy. You may face serious pitfalls that extend the process or even prevent you from adopting a specific child. You should have an adoption lawyer guiding you from the beginning if possible, or at least once you begin the legal process.
What Are the Benefits of Hiring an Adoption Lawyer?
Never assume that adoption will be simple and easy. It may be, but roadblocks and complications are typical. For the best, fastest outcome, you need an adoption lawyer to guide you through the process.
These are just some of the top benefits of working with a lawyer for your adoption:
- Meet legal requirements
Adopting a child can be an emotional event, but it is also a legal process. A lawyer will make sure you meet all the requirements so that you don’t end up disappointed. This leaves you free to enjoy the connection with a new child.
- Identify problems
A lawyer knows all the laws and requirements in the state in which you hope to adopt. They will be able to identify any potential problems with your adoption and handle them before they derail the entire process.
- Court representation
If an issue does arise, such as a birth parent contesting the adoption, your lawyer will represent you in court. Only a lawyer with this area of expertise can successfully advocate for you.
- Assist with international adoptions
If you’re interested in adopting a child from another country, the process may seem overwhelming. You must follow the law in your own state and meet requirements in another country. A lawyer can put your mind at ease and take care of all the details.
- Speed the process
Simple adoptions don’t take long. Complicating factors can arise even in the most straightforward circumstances, turning a month-long process into a year or more. An experienced lawyer cannot work miracles, but they can speed the process.
How to Choose an Adoption Lawyer
There is no shortage of lawyers and firms advertising adoption legal services. Adoption is a process many people go through, and there are plenty of lawyers who help them. Make sure you line up some options and interview and research the lawyers and firms before making your choice. Parents you know who have gone through successful adoptions are great resources for finding a good adoption lawyer.
Start by selecting a lawyer who provides the services you need. Some adoption lawyers only handle the legal aspects of adoptions, including paperwork and going to court. Others work with you for the entire process, even finding agencies and birth parents.
Reputable firms and attorneys will be happy to meet with you for an initial consultation and to answer your questions before you hire someone. Set up a few interviews, so you are informed when making your decision. Some important questions to ask include:
- How long have you been practicing adoption law?
- Do you only work on adoption cases? If not, how much of your caseload is devoted to adoption?
- How long have you been working in this state?
- How many successful adoptions have you been a part of?
- Do you work on all types of adoptions or just relative adoptions?
- Can you negotiate an open adoption?
- Do you see any issues with my plans to adopt?
- How comprehensive are your services throughout the adoption process?
- How long do you think it will take me to complete the adoption process?
- What are your fees, and how do you charge?
How to Work with Your Adoption Lawyer
Any working relationship with a lawyer should be a two-way street. The lawyer does a lot of the work and lifts a significant amount of the burden from you, but they also need your help to get the best outcome. One of the most important things you can do when working with your adoption lawyer is to be honest. Give them all the information and documentation necessary to aid your case.
When it comes to adoption, there is a lot of personal information to share. Your lawyer needs to know about your family, home, relationships, income, and more. The court must approve your adoption, which means you must prove you are a fit parent. Your lawyer can help you do that, but you must be open with them.
An adoption lawyer is an ally for anyone looking to make a child a part of their family. Adoption is both emotional and legal. You need legal representation to make the process smooth and worry-free.