Are you thinking about going through the adoption process? Read this to get started and find out important questions to ask an adoption lawyer!
Adopting a child is one of the most significant events in your life. Unfortunately, the adoption process can be long and complex. You don’t have to handle it alone.
An experienced adoption lawyer can guide you through the adoption journey. Asking the right questions will help you find the right attorney. You’ll have a better idea of what to expect in the adoption process.
Keep reading to learn some of the questions for adoption lawyers you should use.
What Licensing and Professional Memberships Do You Have?
You only want to consider hiring a licensed adoption lawyer. Licensing for attorneys is on a state-by-state basis. You can usually find out whether a lawyer is licensed by checking with the state bar association.
Several professional organizations exist for adoption lawyers. They include:
- Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys (AAAA)
- American College of Assisted Reproduction and Adoption Lawyers (ACARAL)
- American Bar Association Section on Family Law, Adoption Committee
Membership in at least one of these organizations demonstrates that a lawyer is dedicated to the practice of adoption law. Members commit to upholding ethical standards. They typically take part in continuing education.
How Much Adoption Experience Do You Have?
Adoption law is very complex. Each case has its own legal and emotional issues. You need an adoption attorney with the experience to handle whatever may happen.
The length of time the attorney has been practicing adoption law is important. You can ask about the number of adoption cases the attorney personally handles each year. You can also ask what percentage of the practice is devoted to adoption law.
What Is Your Expertise in My Particular Type of Adoption?
The adoption process will be somewhat different depending on the type of adoption you’re pursuing. The main categories of adoption within the US are:
- Foster care adoption
- Private adoption
- Agency adoption
- Relative or kinship adoption
Each type of adoption has unique challenges. For example, foster care adoptions involve working with social services agencies.
In a private adoption, the birth mother or birth parents choose the adoptive parents. Private adoptions may involve an adoption agency.
An adoption agency serves as the intermediary in an agency adoption. You’ll be dealing with the agency instead of directly with the birth parents.
A relative or kinship adoption is often simpler than other types of adoption. You’re adopting a member of your own family. However, you must still follow the required legal adoption process.
International adoptions involve a child from a country other than the US. These types of adoptions are especially complex.
You must follow US law and the laws of the country where the child was born. International laws like the Hague Convention also apply. The laws and procedures in other countries can change during your adoption process.
Non-Traditional Adoptive Situations
If your family situation doesn’t fit into the traditional two-parent heterosexual norm, your adoption will likely face additional challenges. Having an adoption attorney with experience is essential.
Adoption by same-sex couples and single people is legal in all 50 states. Discrimination still exists, though. You want an adoption lawyer who knows how to reduce the barriers as much as possible.
In an open adoption, you have contact with members of the birth family during and after the adoption process. The type of continuing relationship depends on what you negotiate with the birth family.
An open adoption can benefit the child. Determining the best arrangement requires expertise and good communication from your lawyer. You want someone with experience in facilitating this type of adoption.
What Is Your Communication Policy?
Communication with your lawyer is critical throughout the adoption process. Asking about the attorney’s communication policy helps you know what to expect.
You need to know what type(s) of communication the lawyer prefers. Knowing the times of day the lawyer is available to receive phone calls, emails, and/or texts is important.
You should also be aware if a paralegal or assistant will be handling routine questions. No matter who will be responding, you should know what the average response time will be. Knowing the policy for weekend and after-hours communication is important as well.
What Is Your Fee Structure?
Choosing an adoption lawyer based solely on their rates is usually a mistake. Understanding the fee structure is important, though.
Adoption attorneys may charge an hourly rate. Some attorneys use a flat fee instead. If the lawyer charges an hourly rate, ask what the rate is.
Be sure to ask about billing for other members of the team, like paralegals and assistants.
Will I Need a Retainer?
An adoption lawyer may ask for a retainer payment. You pay a certain amount of money upfront. A retainer gives the lawyer assurance that enough funds are available for the adoption process.
The retainer money goes into a trust. The lawyer either receives the funds periodically for services or after fulfilling the terms of the agreement. Be sure to clarify what services the lawyer will bill against the retainer.
Evaluate How You Feel About the Adoption Lawyer
One of the most important questions when you’re looking for an adoption attorney is to ask yourself how you feel about working with them. The adoption process is an emotional journey. It will be a more positive experience if you’re working with someone who makes you feel comfortable.
You want a lawyer who works efficiently. They shouldn’t make you feel rushed, though.
An adoption attorney should be able to explain the complexities of your case in an understandable way. You should feel confident that they’re answering your questions fully and honestly.
You’ll be interacting with staff and other members of the practice. These interactions should be professional and courteous. You want a lawyer with a high-quality team at all levels.
Choosing Your Adoption Lawyer
Choosing the right adoption lawyer is essential. Having the right legal professional helps you navigate the complexities of adoption law. You can avoid some of the challenges of the adoption process.
You have many adoption questions. The experienced attorneys at Blattner Family Law Group are ready to answer. We provide the essential legal services and guidance you need for the beauty and difficulty of the adoption process.
Learn more about Blattner Family Law Group today and schedule a complimentary consultation. Let’s discuss the next steps for your family.