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Adoption Option: Agency, Attorney... or Both

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By Neetal Parekh on August 26, 2009 10:50 AM

In our ongoing series, Adoption Option, we are going over the basics of adoption to help guide you through the life-changing, family-forming decision to adopt.

After asking yourself whether you should adopt and taking a look at types of adoption available, you may now be ready to get professional assistance in making this dream a reality.  With so many options available, it is important to know about what is available.

1. Adoption agencies can help you with the child-finding process. 

An adoption agency is a state-licensed organization that screens prospective parents and then takes on the task of locating a child who may be a good fit.  The adoption agency then guides the adoptive parents through all parts of the process--including offering services such as support groups, financing options, parenting classes, child counseling, and foster programs.  The agency will prescreen parents and likely only introduce parents to a potential child's profile if they think it will be a good fit. 

While agencies are well-connected and often have numerous resources at their disposal to locate children and to support the adoptive parents' needs throughout the process, they do drive the process.  The agency may give preference to certain types of adoptive parents, often based on marital status, religion, etc. 

2. Adoption attorneys will be able to handle the legalities of the adoption.

Adoption attorneys specialize in legal issues, whether straightforward or complex, that may arise in the course of an adoption.  Aspects ranging from consent from birth parents, immigration issues, putative fathers, re-adoption requirements, and court proceedings related to the finalization of adoption are all matters that an adoption attorney should be equipped to handle. 

Especially in instances of private (also called "independent") adoption, an attorney can play an important role in not only overseeing the legalities of the adoption, but may also assist the adoptive parents in locating potential children and providing support resources to help parents through stages of the process.  Prospective parents should seek attorneys who are members of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, suggesting the attorney has experience in administrating adoptions and has pledged to the Academy's code of adoption ethics.

3. To get things right, you may consider going with both. 

In this important decision, you may opt to engage both an agency and an adoption attorney.  While the agency can help locate a child and support you through emotional ups and downs of the process, provide parenting guidance, and avail you to financing options and foster programs, an attorney can oversee the legal aspects of the adoption.  Since the entire process can take months or sometimes even years, using a team approach to adoption may be effective in ensuring a smooth journey to growing your family. 

Keep a lookout for more upcoming posts that breakdown the adoption process in the series, The Adoption Option. Don't miss a single Adoption Option post-- subscribe to the Law & Daily Life RSS feed to get daily posts delivered right to your feed reader.

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