Adopting a child is one of the most personal and important decisions you will make in your life. It’s often not a decision that someone comes to easily. As a result, emotions often can get in the way. While you may think you can go through the process without professional advice, it’s always best to consider bringing in an attorney to help you through the process.
Adoption is one of the most complicated areas of the law. State laws differ and things can become even more complicated if you are considering an international adoption. Attorneys who are well-versed in the area of adoption law can walk you through the process to ensure that everything goes smoothly. They also can represent you in court if there are any legal complications, such as the birth parents changing their mind at the last minute.
There are many types of adoption. You may be considering adopting privately, or you may be going through the foster system. You might be looking to adopt a child from another country, or perhaps take in the child of a relative who no longer can care for him or her. Whatever the case, make sure your attorney is skilled and knows the legal implications of the type of adoption you are considering.
Many attorneys will work for a flat fee for issues such as drafting documents, reviewing and filing paperwork. For more complex issues that might require going to court, such as a parent or grandparent contesting the adoption, an attorney might charge an hourly rate. Costs can vary depending on how complex the issue. It’s always best to discuss costs upfront so there are no surprises.
Adoption is a complicated process that can take time depending on the type of adoption you are considering. While some adoptions can take just a matter of months, others can take a year or more. Discuss with your attorney what steps you can expect to take along the way and what kinds of matters might come up that could slow down the process or perhaps even result in an adoption not going through at all.
Whether you decide to work with an adoption agency, go through the foster care system or engage in a private adoption, it’s always best to hire someone who has your best interest at heart. While you may not need an attorney’s assistance at the beginning of the process, it’s always good to consult with one to ensure that you clearly understand what choices and decisions are right for you, for the child you will be adopting, and to provide you with unbiased counsel.
While financial considerations are important, hiring someone just because they charge less may not be putting your, or your prospective child’s, best interest first. You wouldn’t hire the cheapest doctor to cure your cancer, don’t base such an important decision on fees. Interview a few attorneys and don’t avoid talking about costs. Discuss flat fees versus hourly rates and when they are applicable.
While giving birth to a child typically takes nine months, the adoption process is much more uncertain. Anyone who tells you otherwise may not be telling you the truth. The good news is that an attorney who has handled many adoptions can prepare you for what lies ahead, what roadblocks you might face and what can be done to move the process along as quickly and smoothly as possible in a legal fashion.
Someone’s word isn’t good enough. Even an agreement between two people that is notarized more than likely will not hold up in court. The birth parent may not have full legal rights to their child; a father might come along and contest the agreement. Then what? Without a formal legal adoption, the child might be taken away at any time.
Adopting a child is a complicated process. Having competent legal counsel to assist you along the way is essential to ensure that at the end of the day your rights, and the rights of the child you are planning to adopt, are protected before, during and after the adoption is finalized.
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