Making the decision to adopt a child is usually filled with positive emotions for most couples. That is, until they start looking into the process and get bogged down by the complexity.
Adoptions are not simple. There is a lot of very important legal paperwork that needs to get done and done right. Since adoption laws vary from state to state, it is advisable to seek the help of an adoption attorney at the outset and at various times throughout the process.
While hiring an adoption lawyer to handle the entire process can frequently set soon-to-be parents at ease, full service is not necessary. Adoption lawyers, like any other lawyer, may be rather costly. To control costs, you may wish to only have an attorney handle certain tasks. At a minimum, adopting parents should have an attorney review all agreements they sign. Also, an attorney can help educate prospective parents on the various types of adoption, such as international adoption, and their risks and benefits.
When You Absolutely Should Hire a Lawyer
Adoption is a legal process that requires several steps. If you are not using an adoption service or agency, such as when adopting a spouse's child from a previous marriage, then hiring an attorney to help is advisable. Typically, a service or agency will help with setting up the documentation that a court will want to see in order to approve of the adoption. When an adoption is between private individuals, an attorney should be used to ensure that everything is done properly.
If you plan on using a service or agency, you will want to hire an attorney to review all the agreements you sign with the service or agency, as well as any court documents that get filed. Agreements with adoption agencies or court filings may have specific terms that can impact your parenting, such as terms regarding a birth mother or father's rights after adoption.
Full Service Adoption
Sometimes agencies or services will provide legal counseling as part of their package, or as part of a premium package. In these situations, you may wish to have an independent attorney review the initial agreement or maybe even give you a second opinion later on.
Similarly, many adoption lawyers offer assistance with every step of the process, and may even be able to save you time and money by connecting you to the best or most cost effective services or agencies in or outside your area.