Couples and single people may adopt babies and children either through an agency or privately. Either way, a local court needs to approve the adoption, and those wishing to adopt will need the services of a family law lawyer specializing in adoption. The adoption process may take one to two years, which makes finding the right attorney important, as you will be working them during this entire time.
Write a list of questions and concerns regarding the legal aspects of the adoption. Your concerns about adoption may include how long the process will take, the rights of the birth mother, how to handle an out-of-state or out-of-country adoption, or how to handle the adoption of a stepchild or child that is related to you.
Compile a list of prospective lawyers by consult friends and family who have been through the adoption process, contacting local adoption agencies for adoption attorney referrals and referring to an online attorney directory (see “Resources”).
Approach a lawyer as if you were an employer and she a prospective employee. Interview the adoption lawyer. Set up an appointment for a consultation. Meet with multiple lawyers if any offer free consultations for their services. Ask the attorney if he has ever handled cases resembling yours and about the outcome. Press the attorney for details on how she can help you make the adoption process a smooth one and how she plans to help you.
Discuss hourly fees, billable hours and costs of filing documents. Inquire up front about any additional costs that are both common and uncommon in the adoption process. Narrow down the list of possible adoption lawyers you want to hire based on how much you can afford to pay. In some areas, attorney fees may be comparable, but in others there may be more room to shop around.
Inquire as to the availability of the attorney. Ask if the attorney is available in the evening or on weekends, or whatever times fit your schedule. Discuss with the attorney if he is planning any time off soon and if he has a backup to cover emergency situations. Ask the attorney about how and when you will receive updates regarding the pending adoption
Choose the lawyer with whom you are most comfortable based on her knowledge, and her willingness and ability to answer your questions in a way you can understand.
- Do not be afraid to ask the attorney if he has ever been suspended or disciplined. As a prospective client you have the right to know.
- If you are not happy with an attorney you can dismiss her, pay what you owe and hire someone else.
- Do not neglect to discuss any concerns about a criminal background check, bankruptcy or other legal issues with prospective attorneys.