Choosing an Attorney

WomanIf you have decided to adopt independently, you are going to need a (strong emphasis here) reputable adoption attorney to help you. An experienced adoption lawyer can answer your questions and address other concerns.

You should get recommendations of attorneys from friends, relatives, and adoptive parent support groups and also see if the local Bar Association or the Better Business Bureau has ever received complaints about a specific attorney.

For a list of questions you should ask when you are interviewing attorneys, see Parent Soup's checklist for adoption attorneys.

You might also want to discuss some of the following concerns with the lawyer:

Preplacement Counseling
Does the attorney think that birth parents should have counseling before the birth and placement of the child, and that it is okay for adoptive parents to cover this expense? Even if such counseling is not required in your state, we recommend that you suggest it and offer to pay for it. In most of the contested controversial cases, preplacement counseling did not occur.

Future Contact
This is an important issue. The discussion should include the frequency and kind of contact (for example; face-to-face, correspondence or telephone), limits surrounding that contact and access to medical information that may only become known in the future.

Separate Legal Representation for the Birth Parents
Even if it is not required in your state, adoption experts recommend that separate legal representation be provided to the birth parents, rather than representation by your attorney. If the birth mother and father are no longer together as a couple, they can each have an attorney to represent their best interests. Although this may cost more, it is the ethical thing to do and may prevent much heartache further along in the adoption process. If an attorney recommends otherwise, you may want to reconsider using that attorney.


Benefits of a Putative Father Registry
You may decide to adopt only in a state that has a putative father registry. Otherwise, if the birth father is not actively participating in the adoption plan, is unidentified and not willing to take a paternity test or if the birth mother is not able or willing to name a birth father, you and your attorney will have to evaluate such circumstances very carefully. These are the kinds of situations that involve the most risk.

Overall, less than one percent of adoptions are contested. Thousands of adoptions are successfully completed every year. Headlines notwithstanding, with good adoption practice, you can minimize the risks of a contested independent adoption.

Most of this article was originally written by the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse.

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