Choosing to adopt a child, or to give up your own child for adoption, is a complicated and emotional situation, regardless of which side of the case you happen to be on. Aside from the complex family matter that can be involved, and the many emotions that are most certainly present, the legal process itself can be quite lengthy and complicated, depending on the type of adoption you are pursuing. That’s why many people—both birthparents and prospective adoptive parents—choose to work with a family law attorney during an adoption. Here are 5 reasons you might consider doing so as well.
Move the Adoption Forward
The time it takes for an adoption to be completed can vary widely, and can be influenced by a number of different factors. For example, stepparent adoptions tend to be relatively straightforward, and will take less time than the adoption of a non-relative child. Additionally, there are many things that can delay an adoption that will be beyond your attorney’s control—such as waiting for a biological parent to give up their parental rights.
However, where the timeline is within your control, an attorney can help to save time in the adoption process. There is a significant amount of paperwork involved, and it is vital that this be filed properly and in a timely manner. For a prospective adoptive parent who has never gone through an adoption before, deciphering the paperwork’s legal language and ensuring every detail is accurately filled out can take a lot of time. But, for an experienced adoption attorney, the paperwork can be done much more quickly, is unlikely to have any errors, and will help to move the adoption forward.
Understand Your Rights
When it comes to family law, the rights of adoptive parents and birthparents can be extremely complicated. What happens if a birthparent wants to undo an adoption after it’s already done? What if either birthparent refuses to give up their parental rights prior to the adoption? Whether you’re the birthparent or a prospective adoptive parent, it’s important that you understand all of your rights and legal obligations when it comes to the adoption process.
An adoption attorney can provide you with this information, as well as ensuring that your rights are protected throughout the process. Regardless of whether you’re adopting the child or giving your child up for adoption, this is a protection that you simply can’t do without.
Get Advice on Home Studies
This really only applies to prospective adoptive parents, but it is a vital service that an adoption attorney can provide. When you’re pursuing the adoption of a child, you will have several “home studies” conducted by a social worker or adoption agency. These are in-home interviews conducted to ensure that your home is suitable for a child.
While you may feel completely confident in your ability to “pass” these interviews with flying colors, it never hurts to be prepared. An adoption attorney can give you advice and let you know what to expect in an upcoming home study, so you can ensure that there are no surprises during the interview.
Have Representation at Adoption Hearings
Adoption hearings aren’t an issue in most adoption cases; the majority of adoptions go over smoothly, and the child joins a new, loving family without any complications. However, in some cases, issues do arise, and the matter is brought to court. If this happens, the last thing you want is to be left scrambling to find an attorney to represent you.
By hiring a family law attorney at the very beginning of the adoption process, you’ll have someone on your side who is already familiar with the detail of your case, and who can competently represent you at any adoption hearings. Again, no matter what side of the adoption you may be on, this is really the type of protection that you shouldn’t go without.
Get Referrals for Other Adoption Services
It’s important to be aware that your adoption attorney is there to handle all legal matters associated with the adoption, and to protect your rights throughout the process. They typically cannot offer any other adoption-related services, such as matching a birthparent with a family waiting to adopt, or offering counseling through what may be an emotionally trying process.
However, an experienced adoption attorney will have worked with adoption agencies and other adoption service providers in the past. This means that they will be able to refer you to a professional who can help you with any related services. Many adoption agencies offer both matching services and counseling services to birthparents and prospective adoptive parents, so be sure to ask your attorney for a referral if you need such services.
If you’re considering adoption—either as a birthparent or as an adoptive parent—please reach out to our experienced family law attorneys today, to ensure your rights are protected during the adoption process.